As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Austin Mac Nab, CEO and Co-Founder of VizyPay.
Austin Mac Nab is CEO, co-founder and executive leader of VizyPay, a West Des Moines, Iowa-based provider of payment technology solutions for businesses across the U.S. Mac Nab has been in this role since April 2017 when he co-founded the company.
Mac Nab, an expert in the payment processing, bank card and retail industries, is responsible for overseeing the company’s strategy and running the day-to-day business operations. Since co-founding VizyPay, the company has experienced consistent triple-digit revenue growth, going from $96,000 in 2017 revenues to a projected $8 million plus this year.
Prior to joining VizyPay, Mac Nab was executive director of San Rafael-based Central Payment from 2006 to 2017; regional manager of Card Payment Solutions from 2004–2006. Prior to that he was in management roles for retailers GameStop and Best Buy
Mac Nab was a board member of Waukeee Youth Football League, dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of football to athletes in grades 3rd through 7th. He is married to Malisa Mac Nab and they reside in Waukee, IA with their three children.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I am the son of a Vietnamese immigrant. I grew up with my hardworking, Asian mother and emotionally abusive stepfather, and committed as much time as I could to helping provide for his family. I pushed a lawnmower from house to house, sold eggrolls, candy and more — all of which taught me the sales skills and work-ethic I carry with me to this day. In 2017, my entrepreneurial dreams came to life when I co-founded VizyPay, a leading payment processing company.
I have extensive business and sales experience across various industries including telemarketing, retail, and now the bankcard industry. I have a passion for building a company that makes a difference for small to mid-sized businesses across the USA. With over 16 years in the bankcard industry I have seen the major pain points in payment processing for businesses and I have a vision that Simple Pricing will make for Simple Decisions for business owners. My goal is to create one of the most powerful companies throughout the bankcard industry, with transparency and honesty at every level.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One of the funniest mistakes (that ended up not being one) was when I hired an employee for a W-2 sales role and he came out swinging with five new accounts within the first week, then the next four weeks he got zero. I brought him into my office, and I had to let him go, he was just not a good fit. But something stood out to me and that was this individual was a hardworking, dedicated worker and always came in with a good attitude and gave his best effort. Without any type of budget or even money for that matter I rehired him on the spot to go into Tech/Customer service. Here we are 2+ years later, and he is one of the best fired, and rehired (literally within the same 5 minutes) people we have on our staff. We still joke about firing him to this day.
The biggest lesson I learned from this is “Attitude & Effort” are the only two things you can control in life, and he did just that each day regardless of having a negative run in sales for those four weeks. Actions of a person should allow you to pivot with them to put them in a position to be more successful within your organization. Go with your gut!
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The only book or things I listen to that have helped me consistently in my career are the experiences of myself and others. I am writing a new page of my own book daily, and I read the pages of the book of others around me (successful or not so successful) each day. I have learned much more from really real-life experience than actually reading books or listening to podcasts. Although I do like a little motivational YouTube videos on occasion or reading news stories about successful entrepreneurs that started with nothing, and now have everything.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When we started VizyPay our vision was simple…. Create a payments company that is nothing but transparent and give the business owners we work with the ability to fully understand what they are paying for processing, and ways to avoid paying for them completely. This business is cutthroat, and there is a lot of “fog in the mirrors” type of sales tactics and I don’t believe small business owners need to have games played with their hard money. Our purpose is to be a disruptor in the payments business where old school dinosaur ideas, and one-way street thinking is a thing of the past. We know by doing that we are looking out for small businesses, and that’s something we can all rally behind.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My number one principle is always wanting “more”. In bad times, you want more because it’s not good enough, in good times you want more because it’s not good enough. It never should be good enough, that makes the processes we put in play efficient and on point.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
COVID-19 impacted millions of people worldwide, and much worse than myself or family. The challenges you face as a parent during these times is explaining to your children (if you have any) what’s going on in the world. Why are people scared, or why are people upset? It was important to me to make sure they understood the seriousness of what’s going on with both sides of COVID-19. One side is why are we shutting everything down, and the reasons why. The other side is by shutting everything down, how it impacts businesses and families as well. Both sides lose, and there is no right or wrong answer.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
There were a couple of challenges we faced once COVID-19 hit. How do we keep our employees, and sales partners safe, as well as how do we avoid letting anyone go due to revenue decreases?
We learned how to work mobile (70% of our staff worked from home) and became efficient at doing so over the last 6+ weeks. Our office culture means everything to me as a leader here at VizyPay, and my fear was that it would be lost if everyone worked from home. It was actually the exact opposite. We became stronger, more efficient (finding the chinks in our armor if you would), and the company culture remained intact, even a little better to be honest. We also avoided any type of layoffs; the partners of the company took the financial burden to avoid passing that downline to our employees and our clients. At no point did we even consider a rate increase to our clients in order to keep our employees, in our minds that is never even an option. It’s our responsibility as executives to be on the front lines with a situation like this, as they are on the front lines of representing our company on a daily basis with our clients and sales partners.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Quite honestly, it’s as simple as removing yourself from the thing that is causing you anxiety. I pay close attention to the news because I have to as we deal with small business owners, but when you are seeing nothing but negativity there and on social media it’s easy to let it bring you down. Sometimes the answer is to avoid social media or the news altogether for a day or two. Stay informed, watch your state and national announcements but you don’t have to get wrapped up in it. Spend your time doing other things.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Our company has adapted how we work. I have a lot of confidence in our ability to change and change quickly. I don’t think we are alone here; I know many companies across a variety of industries had to get creative in order to keep business operating smoothly and I know we have all learned a great deal through that. Not only that, but the small businesses we work with have been diversifying how they attract customers. People who said they’d never sell online or have social media pages because they weren’t comfortable with it have now almost been forced to attempt it, and we have seen them have quite a bit of success with it! I think all in all, it’s making us all try things we aren’t comfortable with which in turn will help us grow.
The biggest opportunity our company has and all the business owners and sales partners we work with have is being better than before this all started as we had to adapt accordingly.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Everybody will now have an emergency plan in place for how they would handle something like this in the future. Naturally, people will be more aware of their surroundings more than ever when it comes down to being clean and safe.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
As of today, there are over 33+ million unemployed Americans and millions of small business owners impacted by Covid-19. Our company offers individuals an opportunity of becoming a sales partner with us to promote our products and services which in return helps small business owners understand and avoid paying processing fees altogether (which is a huge line item on their P & L each year). There is nothing but opportunity for VizyPay, our sales partners, and future clients (business owners) moving forward.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Put a focus on your employees and company culture so that everybody is excited to come back and be around each other again. Make sure to plan for everything in your organization and be as flexible as you can because you never know when you will be forced to completely change the way you run your business. Lastly NEVER forget your “Why” and make sure you always want “more” in whatever you put your time and effort into.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have two but I think they are similar:
1- “The difference between your dreams and reality is called ACTION”
2- “Actions speak louder than words”.
My entire life I watched my mom work 2–3 jobs just to put food on the table while being taken advantage of by my lazy stepfather who did nothing but watch TV all day and struggle to hold a job. For years I watched her fall for his words and excuses for unemployment while she grinded day and night to support us. Starting at age 10 instead of playing with other kids after school I would go door-to-door selling everything from lawn mowing to egg rolls to candy just to try to help her out. Through that experience I learned two things: 1) always pay attention to what people do rather than what they say they’ll do; and 2) hard work and taking action in your own life is the only way you’ll achieve anything.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Social media! I am very active on LinkedIn and encourage our company to be as well. Look me up, I am always willing to spit some game with like-minded people!