Matan Bar is the CEO and founder of Melio, a Tel Aviv start-up that aims to keep small businesses in business by simplifying and digitalizing supplier payments. Prior to founding Melio, Bar had already proved himself as Head of PayPal’s Consumer Product Center and Global P2P Payments. With Melio now valued at $1.3 billion, the future seems bright for the young entrepreneur. Find out more as we run through ten things you didn’t know about Matan Bar.
1. His first technology experience came in the army
At the age of 18, Bar was drafted into the Israeli army, a mandatory experience for all Israeli citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 years old. Shortly after joining, Bar was put in charge of managing a team of 20 engineers for the army’s intelligence unit. He’s since credited the experience as giving him his first exposure to cutting edge tech, not to mention his first experience of handling large-scale responsibilities.
2. He studied Computer Science and Management
Considering his career path, Bar’s choice of degree subjects couldn’t have been more relevant. After finishing his compulsory period in the army, Bar enrolled at Tel Aviv University studying Computer Science and Management. During his time at the university, he served as the team leader on the ‘Computer in the Community’ project. He also played on the Tel Aviv Soccer Team. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he continued his education in the Executive Product Management program at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
3. He launched his first startup at college
During his final year at Tel Aviv University, Bar showed his entrepreneurial spirit when he founded his first startup, the Gifts Project. The start-up was an online group payments platform designed to simplify the process of buying and paying for goods bought online via Facebook and email. It proved a huge success. Within a short time of launching, it was picked up by major retailers like eBay and Crate and Barrel.
4. He sold Gifts Project to eBay
Within 2 years of launching, the Gifts Project had become hot property. So hot, in fact, that eBay approached Bar with an acquisition offer. The offer was attractive, but Bar still had doubts about whether or not to accept it. During an interview with Product Management Festival, Bar explained why he eventually decided to sell. “I was twenty-six years old at the time and the offer was compelling, but we were doing well and we were having fun,” he explained. “What enticed us to sell was that they wanted us to start a new independent center of innovation. It was an incredible opportunity, and we could really do something with the resources and make an even bigger impact.” After the deal went through, Bar took up his new position as Head of Product and GM at the eBay Israel Innovation Center. Over the coming few years, he focused on executing innovative user experiences across verticals such as 2C Selling, group payments, AI purchase recommendation engines, and wearables.
5. He joined PayPal in 2015
After three successful years with eBay, Bar moved onto new pastures when eBay and Paypal split in 2015. Bar decided to stick with PayPal, where he was promoted to Head of PayPal Consumer Product Center. During his tenure with the business, he was reasonable for developing the company’s peer-to-peer platform.
6. He went solo in 2018
After three years as the Head of PayPal’s Consumer Product Center and Global P2P Payments, Bar decided the time was ripe to revisit his entrepreneurial roots. In 2018, he quit PayPal to launch Melio, a company with the central mission of keeping small businesses in business by facilitating smarter payments. Since its inception, Melio has grown exponentially, tapping into an ever-growing number of markets and extending its base in Tel Aviv to include offices in New York.
7. He’s a game-changer
Melio was set up to revolutionize how small businesses do business. It succeeded. Prior to Melio, small businesses relied on old fashioned tools to manage their supplier payments. By capitalizing on the same kind of payment apps that consumers use to transfer money to friends or service suppliers, Melio has radically improved the speed and ease with which small businesses make payments. Speaking to The Times of India, Bar explained how Melio has improved the flexibility available to small businesses. “Our mission is to keep small businesses in business,” he said. “We do this by letting them manage payments remotely, paying how and when they need, giving them greater control, and helping them manage cash flow. Business payments shouldn’t be any more complicated than paying a friend on your phone.”
8. He raised $144 million in a year
Within just one year of launching, Melio had raised $144 million in investments. Funding was led by Accel, Aleph, Bessemer Venture Partners, Coatue Management, and General Catalyst. Other investors included Corner Ventures, LocalGlobe, and American Express Ventures. In a statement issued last year, Bar said that the funding would be used to accelerate Melio’s rate of growth, allowing it to reach out to new customers looking for innovative digital solutions to mitigate the economic effects of COVID.
9. His company is now valued at $1.3 billion
This January, Bar confirmed that Melio had raised a further $110 million in funding on top of the $144 it had raised in the first three quarters of 2020. The new round of funding, which was led by Coatue, puts the company’s valuation at $1.3 billion.
10. COVID has presented him with new opportunities
While the economic effects of COVID have had a devasting effect on many businesses, Bar is one of the lucky few who’ve managed to work the pandemic to their advantage. Speaking to Pyments, Bar explained how, at the beginning of March 2020, he was unsure of how the pandemic would affect him, his business, and his customers. In the months since, the massive acceleration of the digitization shift that was already underway has bought new opportunities and new markets to Melio’s door. Without being able to pick up checks from customers or hand them over to suppliers, businesses have been forced to embrace digital payments and tech like never before. The upshot is that for companies like Melio, business has never been so good, while for entrepreneurs like Bar, the future has never looked so promising.