In an article by Mary Ann Azevedo for TechCrunch, one startup is banking on the fact that businesses are eager to earn as much yield as possible on their cash.
Mayfair is a new fintech startup that offers businesses up to 4.02% APY, a number it claims is among the highest out there. How a startup that is barely two years old is able to offer such high earnings to businesses goes back to its partners. Mayfair itself is not a bank, but rather a fintech company that offers cash management services through Stripe. The money is held by Stripe via its technology in an account at an Arkansas-based bank called Evolve Bank & Trust, an FDIC member.
“We’ve tied all that together,” said Mayfair co-founder and COO Munish Chopra.
Chopra and Daniel Chan had worked at private equity hedge funds for most of their careers and grew frustrated by not being able to put any of their own money to work “for decent yields, with the average savings account for businesses paying 0.3% in interest.”
“And we didn’t want to take any risks with our money either,” said Chopra, who previously worked as managing director of Triton Partners.
The pair teamed up with serial entrepreneurs Kent Mori and Kevin Chan in February 2021 to start a company, exploring different business models before settling on Mayfair’s current offering.
Beyond providing access to higher earnings, Mayfair says its software gives businesses a way to choose how much they need for operations and earn yield on the rest via automated cash management.
“On a daily basis, we’ll rebalance your accounts to make sure that if you’ve got say, more than half a million in your operating account, we’ll move that into the cash account so that it can earn maximum yield,” Chopra said. “And if you dip below that, then we’ll top up your account so that you always have the half a million bucks that you need for your operating purposes.”
Notably, Mayfair managed to raise $10 million in venture funding across a $2 million pre-seed and $8 million seed round before it had even settled on its current concept. The raises took place before the downturn that has hit the startup world began in full force, with the seed round closing in April of 2022 in conjunction with the closing of a $4 million debt line. Amity and BoxGroup co-led Mayfair’s pre-seed financing. Tiger Global, led by John Curtius (who has since departed the firm), led the company’s seed raise with Amity and BoxGroup also participating.
“As we were going around and trying to figure out what our options were, it turned out that if we pushed hard enough and negotiated hard enough, we could get far better [interest] rates, and we could develop far better partnerships,” Chopra told TechCrunch in an interview. “So as we were doing that, it became obvious to us that actually we were supposed to start a company that makes that rate available to others, whether they’re startups, or more successful companies…That’s obviously a very sensible thing for people to do with cash, especially now when there’s trouble with inflation and everyone’s downsizing and needs to do something with their cash.”
Mayfair went live with its offering in late 2022, and is emerging from stealth with “dozens” of customers, including freight logistics startup Factored Quality, on its platform.
“Some of them have very small balances, like tens of thousands of dollars,” Chopra said. “Some of them have tens of millions of dollars. And it’s not limited to the U.S. either.”
In the short term, Mayfair is eager to line up more partner banks and build out more products. The company believes that it can attract banks as partners by pledging to deliver a higher amount of deposits than they would get on their own.
“They don’t have to pay to have a marketing force or for distribution,” Chopra said. “We’re doing that effectively, and then handing them a pot of cash. If they had to borrow overnight, they’d have to pay more.”
Evolve pays Stripe a fee. Stripe in turn pays Mayfair and Mayfair pays its customers, keeping what Chopra described as a small cut. Down the line, the company is planning to charge for certain functions related to cash management that is not yet built out. Chopra said the company doesn’t view fellow fintech Mercury as a competitor (that company too is partnered with Evolve), and views its services as “complementary.”
Presently, Mayfair has 12 employees. It is using its funding toward hiring, with a focus on engineering, product and design.
Patrick Yang, founding general partner of Amity Ventures, told TechCrunch via email that he was drawn to the caliber of Mayfair’s founding team.
For example, Kevin Chan also founded Headway, which has raised more than $100 million from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, GV and Thrive. Meanwhile Dan Chan founded JANDI, which is dubbed the Slack of Asia.
“I’ve known the team for many years before investing and was drawn to their ability to execute and the speed at which they’ve been able to ship quality products that are being used at scale. They have a massive vision to be an end to end finance platform for fast growing companies that includes management and automation around treasury, finance, accounting, and operations,” Yang told TechCrunch. “As an investor in Carta, I see a similar path for Mayfair to being a vital part of every business starting with treasury management as Carta did with cap table management.”
Mayfair Cash Account Launches with 4.02% APY and Automated Treasury Management
The company is helping companies put every last idle dollar to work. Its clients avoid the price and liquidity risks of financial products typically marketed to businesses, and can take advantage of automated cash management to earn 4.02% APY.
Mayfair created the product with Stripe and its partner bank, Evolve Bank & Trust. The partnerships gave Mayfair access to superior yields on deposits, pass-through FDIC insurance for clients, and the financial infrastructure needed to create interbank automations.
“As many companies struggle to cope with inflationary pressure, we are delighted to be able to offer startups and established businesses industry-leading yields for any cash they have in their bank accounts,” says Munish Chopra, COO of Mayfair. “As founders ourselves, the team recognized that companies wish to avoid the typical trade-off among yield, safety, and convenience. We designed the product to address customer needs with the benefit of our own backgrounds and experience.”
“The Mayfair product is a no-brainer and I’d recommend it to all of my portfolio companies,” noted Patrick Yang, Founding General Partner of Amity Ventures. “In this environment, companies have to do everything they can to extend runway, and they should all be taking advantage of higher interest rates and Mayfair’s best-in-class automated treasury management.”
“Mayfair made it super easy to get 4% back on cash in our bank account,” said Prince Ghosh, CEO of freight logistics startup Factored Quality. “This is compared to the likes of Bank of America who offer 0.01-0.04%. When markets started crashing and we wanted to extend our runway, it was the easiest way to reduce our burn rate and offset the cost of a full-time employee.”
The benefits Factored Quality are realizing aligns with how Daniel Chan, Mayfair’s CEO, envisions firms using the product: “For early startups that have raised a Seed or Series A, 4% a year on cash offsets the salaries of several full-time employees. For later stage companies, it pays for an entire department. That’s a compelling case for companies of all sizes.”
“It’s simple math. We’d much rather be generating return on our cash than letting it sit in a savings account for negligible return,” said Michael Otis, CEO of procurement service provider Procoto. “While the rates are important to us, as a startup, the liquidity and safety we get with Mayfair are even more critical. We actually came over from a competitor and couldn’t be more glad we made the switch. Mayfair is the easiest way for us to earn some extra yield while still having the security of an FDIC-insured bank.”