Photo courtesy of Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel.

A New Way to Do Business

After working in the payment processing industry for about four years, Suneera Madhani had seen enough. She wanted to end the lack of transparency and never-ending gimmicks merchant service providers (MSPs) imposed on their customers.

Now, Madhani is doing exactly that. As the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fattmerchant, Madhani is not nickel-and-diming her customers. She’s offering a subscription-based model to businesses that is completely transparent and cost-effective.

If you own a business, it is likely that you’re using an MSP. MSPs, like banks and third-party processors, provide businesses and individuals the products and means to accept credit cards, debit cards and other forms of electronic payments.

However, with the service, customers have experienced hidden fees and hefty markups that are embedded into their contracts causing a lot of frustration.

“Customers were getting the short end of the stick every time,” said Madhani, 27. “I would challenge my bosses and I would try to find a solution, but nobody would listen.”

After hearing an abundance of complaints while working for various national payment providers, Madhani presented her concept of a flat rate plan that would provide merchants the true cost of payment processing without surcharges and other markups.

“I pitched it to my old company, but they hated the idea,” she said.

Madhani (BSBA ’09) quit her job in November 2013, and launched Fattmerchant with her brother, and the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Sal Rehmetullah in early 2014.

Fattmerchant offers customers a monthly subscription plan with no contracts, no strings attached and a completely transparent model that is cost-effective. While banks usually charge business owners 3 to 5 percent per transaction, the company’s users only pay interchange. Customers will never receive any percentage on top of the interchange, and Fattmerchant will never profit from a company’s volume.

Fattmerchant customers can start a membership the same day they apply, and can avoid the lengthy approval processes of Wells Fargo and Bank of America, some of the company’s main competitors.

When she first launched the company, Madhani said one of the biggest challenges she faced was believing in herself.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn't scared when I first went to start Fattmerchant. That's a big change - leaving a company, starting over from scratch, but life will always go on around you. There will always be things that can make something harder if you let them be a problem. You just have to pull the trigger and keep tunnel vision toward your goals,” she said.

Madhani said that as a female entrepreneur, a lot of the time women put the fear into themselves. That is not the case with her. She has the confidence to fulfill her vision.

“Let's be honest, most CEOs are men, especially within the FinTech industry. We're entering a really cool time where women are finding their voice and excelling in business, but numbers are still in the favor of men and that can be daunting to some,” Madhani said.

Still, Madahani loves making waves within the industry, and says women are more supportive of each other and their businesses.

Madhani said Warrington helped her prepare for the business world. She said the finance and leadership classes she took were extremely helpful, and being part of the Gator Nation has allowed her to network with influential businesspeople like Martin Suter, who has held senior executive positions at some of the world’s leading technology companies and serves on Fattmerchant’s Board of Directors.

Fattmerchant’s goal is to attain 10,000 customers in the next three years. The company is currently on track to attain and reach its short-term goal of 1,000 customers by the end of the year.

“Success is defined by customer happiness. Our merchants are the reason why we're here in the first place, and their ultimate satisfaction is our success. So whether it's saving them money, or providing them top of the line technology or amazing customer service, their happiness and peace of mind is what we're in it for,” Madhani said.

—Mauricio Almenara (BSPR ’16)