How Epic – Happay’s corporate card platform – helps startups gain control and stay ahead of their spending
Launched in 2012 by Anshul Rai and Varun Rathi as an effort to crack an important piece of the payment puzzle, Happay has grown over the years to become a key player in the business expense management solution space. It is all-in-one expense management software for businesses that brings an organisation’s business expenses on one platform, enabling them to fund, track and manage them online, thereby giving real-time visibility and control over business spending.
Varun Rathi and Anshul Rai
Today, the startup’s flagship platform is being used by 6000+ businesses across sectors and sizes – from Xiaomi, V-Guard, Oyo, Swiggy, Jubilant Foodworks and Practo.
Want an insider’s view of how Happay leveraged AWS services to build a corporate card platform? Don’t miss this interactive walkthrough with AWS Solution Architect and the Happay team as they take you through the architectural pillars of Epic, how they boosted its computing capabilities using Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda, and deployed containerised applications using Amazon EC2 and AWS Fargate and more.
A corporate credit card platform designed for startups
During conversations with startup founders and finance heads, the co-founders of Happay realised the challenges of a traditional corporate card for startups. To substantiate the findings and back it up with data, Happay decided to run a survey with five hundred growing startups that have raised over $5 million in individual funding.
“The survey revealed the enormity of the challenge that we had heard about. About 76 percent of these startups were managing spends using either traditional bank corporate cards, personal cards or bank transfers. These channels offered very little control and visibility,” shares Varun Rathi, COO and Co-founder of Happay.
The learnings led Happay to conceptualise and work on a solution. After launching and testing in Beta, Happay announced the launch of Epic, a corporate card platform for startups. Built on AWS, Epic gives startups corporate credit cards that offers enterprise-grade controls, and real-time spend visibility.
“The idea was to bridge the evident gap in the market and keep up with the dynamic needs of startups and democratise enterprise-level technology,” adds Anshul Rai, CEO and Co-Founder of Happay.
Building the platform on AWS has enabled Happay to offer distinct benefits to startups availing Epic. “AWS is the architectural backbone for thousands of startups. As organisations continue to grow, they often need multiple services on AWS to support new ideas and experiments. While the implementation is instant, the payments are staggered as engineering teams struggle with approvals and getting a corporate card for payments.”
But this is just one of the many advantages. The corporate card solution sets itself apart from the regular corporate card offerings by banks and other financial institutions.
The Epic advantage
Epic gives corporate cards to startups without collaterals at zero founders’ liability. The processing time is also much faster than the usual bank cards minus the hassles of documentation. Startups get dedicated physical and unlimited virtual cards to streamline AWS payments, ad spends on Google and social media, and make one-time or recurring SaaS software payments. Moreover, with pre-spend control, analytics and integrations, it will give an organisation-level spending round-up on fingertips.
Epic also brings respite to the common corporate card problems. For instance, one of the key challenges that Epic cards address is helping startups keep a tab on the card usage while also safeguarding from fraud.
“Startup founders struggle to get cards from banks. When they do get, it usually gets shared between teams. With card changing hands, it becomes difficult to track usage and enforce control. Accountability gets compromised, spend management becomes an after-thought, and there lies a window for fraud,” shares Varun.
Epic addresses this challenge with dedicated cards for the teams. With the live feeds of transactions on mobile and web applications that show track spendings in real-time, monitoring usage becomes effortless. This also helps to keep a check on spends, vendors and card usage. And, as an added advantage, in the long run, it makes reconciliation a breeze and keeps the startup ever ready for an audit. Epic also promises the lowest forex markup for international transactions that can come in handy for startups.
Another often overlooked challenge of a regular credit card is that in cases where SaaS subscriptions are mapped to a credit card, the startup continues to be charged if it has not been terminated by oversight. This can result in unwanted spending. To address this, Epic lets startups create time-bound and vendor-specific virtual cards to make one-time or recurring payments. Thereby eliminating the chances of unwanted or overlooked spends.
Ensuring a robust, secure and seamless payment experience
“AWS helps us to implement our operational, regulatory, and security requirements through the breadth, depth, and maturity of the AWS platform which is important for a financial solution,” he adds.
Today, almost all of Epic’s workloads run on AWS. Epic relies on Amazon Simple Storage Service ( S3), Amazon Cloudfront and Amazon Fargate. The Web & Data tier leverages, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS). Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda for computing. For serverless computing. In addition, AWS ElastiCache, the fully managed in-memory data store and cache service, plays a key role in improving the performance of Epic’s web applications.
Amazon Cloudfront for CDNs, Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) for queuing, AWS RDS and Amazon Redshift in addition to Amazon S3 for storage. Amazon Redshift also doubles up for meeting data warehousing needs while Amazon ECS for orchestration. For Batch jobs, Happay leverages Amazon Cloudwatch and AWS Batch in addition to ECS.
“We use Terraform by HashiCorp, an AWS Partner Network (APN) Advanced Technology Partner. We use this ‘infrastructure as code’ tool to deploy containerised applications in Amazon Elastic Container Service (Fargate & EC2) using AWS Codepipeline majorly and sometimes using Jenkins. All of this without having to manage servers or clusters of Amazon EC2 instances. Application Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery(CICD) resources are also scripted using Terraform. This helps exclude the overhead of managing or maintaining different CICD environments and resources.” says Anshul.
With this Happay has been able to achieve a 99.99 percent uptime in addition to benefits w.r.t. cost, efficiency, functioning and maintenance.
“AWS services used in our architecture are scalable which enables us to take control of cost and continuously optimize our spend.” In addition, there are cost-saving plans, RIs, spots, etc for further cost-cutting.
Disruption on the cards
The startup is excited about the launch of EPIC and the opportunity to disrupt the market.
“The Beta launch has already helped us win market confidence. In the weeks to come, we will be onboarding some well-known startups,” says the Co-founder.
While the coming months will see the startup penetrating deeper into the credit card market, it is also working parallely on adding more functionality to be able to position Epic as the default corporate credit card solution for the business ecosystem.
“With our broad suite of applications that are tightly integrated with each other, we want businesses to stay ahead of their spending,” signs off Varun.