Anish Kapoor wants to turn AccessPay into the largest provider of automated banking operations. It may sound an ambitious target, but the company’s CEO has never shied away from a challenge.
“I just focus on building the best business,” he says. “I am constantly pushing myself and the business to grow and deliver faster.”
Kapoor was appointed chief executive of the cloud-based payment and cash management specialist in 2015 and was charged with leading the company’s growth phase. The inspiration for the business, he reveals, was learning that enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems did not connect to banks.
“It was a lightbulb moment for me,” he says. “To find out all of this only worked because people were manually inputting data into systems was crazy. It was clear someone would make this fully digital – and 10 years later, here we are.”
He is also keen to credit his colleagues at the Manchester-based operation and insists they are the best part of running a business. “Meeting and working with great people is what it is all about,” he says.
The most challenging component, of course, is the time spent investing in the business, says Kapoor.
“It is very fast paced with long hours at times, so by the end of the week you can be exhausted. I’ve found that making time for yourself, friends and family is super important.”
During the working day, however, his focus is on growing AccessPay and reinventing the way finance teams use technology. “I have a stubborn drive to deliver the vision we set out 10 years ago,” he says.
This determination has been one of the driving forces behind the tech entrepreneur’s career, which began in the accountancy industry in the early 1990s.
“I trained with Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte – that’s how old I am,” he laughs. During his three years in the business, he specialised in IT systems and due diligence.
“My plan was to become an ACA, learn about business, and then start my own,” he says. “I wanted to be a finance director as soon as possible and I thought that was the fastest way to get there.”
Of course, the business he joined would subsequently merge with Price Waterhouse in 1998 to form one of the Big Four firms – PwC. However, by that time Kapoor had already moved on to the next stage of his career. This challenge came in the form of Telecity Group, the independent European data centre he co-founded in 1997. He was with the business for four years during an exciting period in its history.
“We grew revenues from zero to $50m+ per annum in three years,” he says. “We also grew the team from three people to more than 550 in 12 countries, operating 17 data centres.”
Kapoor led a 40-strong team as the company developed new products and services for telecoms, internet service providers and enterprise customers. The company was successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2000. “I always operated at main board level, and in the latter years of my involvement I was one of the youngest serving FTSE 250 directors, leading investor liaison and corporate development,” adds Kapoor.
Kapoor then served as a director of ConceptMetro, a niche e-commerce business focussing on emerging trends in male grooming, before working with several early-stage tech venture capitalists. As well as sitting on the board of their various investments, this period gave him exposure to a variety of areas, including mobile software, gaming and IP development.
Yuuguu was his next project, a desktop sharing and web conferencing application he co-founded in 2006. “I raised seed and venture capital funding for the company of more than $2m over various rounds,” he says. “I also led product development and marketing.” The company was subsequently acquired by PowWowNow, a fast-growing European telecoms provider in 2010, with Kapoor staying on to help with product development.
The past decade has seen him sitting on the board of various Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, as well as taking the helm of AccessPay, where he currently resides. His aim for the foreseeable future is to expand this business – and he believes the goals set for the company can be achieved sooner rather than later. “In five years, I think we will become the largest provider globally and my role will be very different day to day then it is now – but that is part of running a fast-growing business,” he says.
Find out more about AccessPay here