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Refined business model has CEO’s firm billed to last

Billtrust aims its outsourcing services at middle market, with plans to grow

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Flint Lane hatched the idea for an outscourced billing company in the early days of e-commerce, in the late 1990s.
Flint Lane hatched the idea for an outscourced billing company in the early days of e-commerce, in the late 1990s. - (AARON HOUSTON)

Billtrust CEO Flint Lane's passion for simplifying billing predates the e-commerce age.
Once a tech-savvy software programmer from the corporate world, Flint Lane recalls paying his personal bills online in the late 1990s, with the Internet's transformation of commerce just taking root.

He did so manually — companies weren't marketing the service then — but the aspiring entrepreneur saw an opportunity to make business and workflow more efficient everywhere.

“E-mail is taking off,” Lane recalled thinking at the time. “Why can't billing be as easy as e-mail?”

Now, as CEO of Billtrust, in Hamilton, he's bringing his brand of outsourced billing services to a much wider audience.

According to Billtrust, revenue surpassed $40 million in 2012, up from $32.8 million in 2011. It has 175 workers, about triple what it employed three years ago. That growth has turned heads among watchers of fast-moving companies — it ranking No. 1,347 on Inc.'s 2012 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies.

From the outset, Billtrust sought to distinguish itself by handling both print and electronic options for its clients' customers, acting as a middleman that makes such services possible.

That ranges from the old school method of billing via mail — which Lane said is still the preference of about half of consumers — and electronic payments, which are processed through a customer's billing company or bank. Payments through mobile apps are rising, also.

Whatever the customer prefers, Billtrust sees itself as adept at both. It owns a printing facility on Route 130; it also employs software developers to manage more technologically sophisticated billing transactions.

“It's hard to be good at both of those, because it's two completely different” realms, Lane said. “But we set out to be great at those from the outset.”

Billtrust's clients range from telecommunication companies, to utilities, retailers and newspapers. It targets its products to small to midsize businesses that have complex enough billing process that require an outsourced solution.

Lane said some businesses are too small to justify hiring outside help — such as your local landscaper — while some are big enough they can handle billing in-house — think Verizon.

But everyone in between is fair game. And Billtrust has grand plans for expansion, through both organic growth and acquisitions.

“We haven't even scratched the surface internationally, which we think is a great market for us,” Lane said.

E-mail to: tomz@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @biztzanki

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