In a Nutshell: The best business ideas are inspired by a problem someone in the trenches experienced. As owner of Tyler Petroleum, Zil founder and CEO Sabeer Nelli wrote software to handle his payment problems. That platform became Zil Money, an all-in-one payment solution for SMBs that provides hassle-free payment services and integration with popular accounting systems. Zil Money is simple and easy to use without requiring expensive subscription fees or exorbitant transaction fees. Plus, it offers credit access at the point of payment to extend transactional flexibility. Zil Money is a no-brainer for SMB owners wanting to focus on building the business, not ensuring everyone gets paid.
Small business owners have a lot on their plates. But only some of their responsibilities bear directly on the passion that led them to start a company.
For example, most SMB owners don’t go into business to manage the technical details that ensure vendors, contractors, suppliers, and employees receive the money they have coming to them. Payments can be complex and costly, especially for resource- and personnel-strapped SMBs working in competitive environments with a larger purpose.
Sabeer Nelli was one of those entrepreneurs. Nelli ran an oil and gas distribution business with hundreds of vendors that required different forms of payment, including checks, ACH, and credit cards. There were times when things were so convoluted that Nelli didn’t know the status of his funds.
So he did something about it. In 2012, Nelli built a software platform to gather his payment responsibilities under one umbrella. He shared it with a few peers, who responded positively. He decided to market the solution to provide SMB owners like himself relief from the seemingly endless grind of ensuring everyone got paid.
That platform, Zil Money, is now the trusted payment solution for more than 600,000 small business customers needing simpler, faster, and cheaper payment management. Zil Money partners with more than 22,000 global banking institutions to facilitate payments everywhere and has processed more than $50 billion in transactions.
COO Justin Timlin told us Zil Money got to where it is today because it saves time and money and allows entrepreneurs to focus on growth and innovation rather than sitting in front of a screen.
“That’s a home run value proposition,” Timlin said. “Zil Money allows SMB owners to do what they love without getting caught up in the weeds of managing the day-to-day.”
Connect or Create a Bank Account or Wallet
The platform has managed spectacular growth because innovation is at its heart. Zil Money started as a check-writing solution before taking on ACH payments and wire transfers and incorporating a credit solution that allows businesses to pay via credit card even when vendors don’t accept that method.
Zil Money brings unique versatility to SMBs in a crowded payment space, while other platforms target enterprises or focus on discreet industry segments.
“We’ve built the perfect solution for the small- or medium-sized business that requires all the tools they need for their payments and banking experience in one place,” Timlin said.
At its core, Zil Money is a B2B payments service focused primarily on accounts payable for the SMB space. Signup is free, and SMBs may connect and work through their financial provider or leverage Zil Money’s extensive partnership network to create a bank account or digital wallet on the platform.
From there, owners can send money to vendors, contractors, suppliers, and employees through their chosen payment modality. The platform supports check printing to help SMBs serve vendors requiring that. It doesn’t require subscription fees and keeps transaction fees as low as possible.
“The magic of it is it allows payors and payees to pay and get paid how they want to,” Timlin said.
Many businesses create an account or wallet through Zil Money because it allows them to save on already reasonable transaction fees. The healthy partnership network also allows Zil Money to ensure deposits beyond the $250,000 stipulated by the FDIC.
“Creating a business bank account or wallet with us makes payments cheaper and faster,” Timlin said. “Zil Money is simple and easy to use, not something that takes tons of time to learn and integrate.”
Credit Access at Point of Payment Alleviates Cash Crunch
Timlin said Zil Money’s credit solution enables small businesses to work proactively within real-world payment challenges and motivates many SMBs to choose the platform.
“Our credit card rail allows our customers to pay their bills on their card even when it isn’t accepted,” Timlin said. “It opens up credit at the point of payment where it previously didn’t exist.”
Imagine a kitchen remodeler that works multiple jobs simultaneously. The owner needs to purchase supplies for the next job but hasn’t received payment for the previous one.
That puts the business in a cash crunch: The cash is on the way but not quite where it needs to be, a common problem for small business owners.
Meanwhile, the supplier is ready to accept payment for the required countertops and faucets. But the supplier doesn’t accept credit cards because they don’t want to pay the fees associated with accepting card payments.
“If you’re selling countertops, you might be working at a 10% margin,” Timlin said. “You’re not going to accept a card at a 2% transaction fee because 20% of your profit goes to accept the payment.”
Zil Money allows that vendor to receive a check or ACH while facilitating payment via card, opening up credit at the point of payment for the SMB space that doesn’t typically have access to traditional lines of credit.
After all, these aren’t venture-backed businesses with a revolving line of credit at a big bank. But they have a company card, and unlocking that at the point of payment is powerful. Zil Money also automatically offers revolving credit lines to businesses that can support it, helping companies manage cash flow more effectively.
“That’s truly what differentiates us,” Timlin said.
Helping SMBs of All Types Achieve Their Goals
Many Zil Money customers are companies on the larger side, but Zil Money is not an enterprise-level solution. Instead, it provides tools and simplicity to serve businesses without ready access to low-cost credit via relationships with big banks.
The Zil Money team designed the platform to help the little guy compete against peers — and win — by taking on frustrating and time-consuming payment details without requiring considerable investment.
Zil Money also integrates seamlessly with accounting platforms so entrepreneurs can know where their money is at any point. That big problem for Zil Money’s founder, Sabeer Nelli, led him to create the platform.
“He had to pay the gas guy a million-dollar check, the slushie guy through ACH, and the candy guy through a wire,” Timlin said. “He was going down to the bank to send wires, signing up for something to do ACH, and writing out checks. That really highlights the pain point we solve.”
The kicker is that Zil Money works for all businesses. Construction companies comprise 11% of its customers, but no other vertical approaches that level.
And while Zip Money is an all-in-one platform, the company offers custom solutions to businesses that require them. For example, many customers use Zil Money as a check-writing solution. Others integrate the platform’s seamless credit card solutions.
The Zil Money team works with customers to provide custom solutions through its comprehensive programming interface.
The result is a payment platform that can be all things to all SMBs, enabling owners to take control of what they do during the day and keep the focus on what matters most.
“There’s a lot of time and effort required just to run a business right, and payments are a big part of that,” Timlin said. “Having a single hub to do it from is super valuable.”