Sep 17, 2018

Pay It Forward: Next Generation Alcohol Beverage Marketing Support



PayBev is a financial services company that specializes in the collection and management of voluntary alcohol beverage marketing support. Traditionally handled by beverage agencies and specialized print shops, this industry is ripe for change and innovation. Building on years of hospitality experience and powered by IMI, PayBev set out to focus solely on the financial bridge between supplier brands and operator activations. This has resulted in greater financial transparency, more consistent legal approvals and most importantly, faster collections and payments.

Program investments can be difficult to predict because supplier terms vary significantly. PayBev account holders have access to the current status of every invoice, based on the individual terms of each supplier. The platform also tracks vendor payments from submission to approval, payment and through deposit. This final step is often neglected, but it provides assurance that payment has been received by the vendor. These processes, complemented with status notifications, increase the likelihood that operator promotions and activations are funded and executed properly.

PayBev seeks to disrupt the alcohol beverage and hospitality industries by providing a financial tool that promotes branded activations within the strict guidelines of the federal, state and local jurisdictions. PayBev is operated out of Atlanta, Georgia, which is a hotbed for fintech companies across the country.

Our chat with Adam Billings, the founder of PayBev with some insight into the creation of the company, how it works and some future plans.

What was the impetus for creating PayBev?

While I was living in Manhattan in 2015, I was working with a few of the burgeoning restaurant and nightlife groups in the city, like Ark Restaurants, Morgans Hotel Group, André Balazs and BR Guest. The fast pace at which they brought promotions and activations to life was unlike the typical chain accounts I was familiar with. They needed funding options that met the speed at which they were creating branded experiences for their guests. We knew we needed to provide them access to current account balances, transaction detail and program metrics, while ensuring the proper legal guardrails were in place. Six months later, our development team had a working app and the start of PayBev financial services.

What are your two biggest advantages over other agencies that collect and manage marketing support?

Speed and transparency. Our team monitors payment and investment requests that come through the PayBev application in real time. Anyone who has had experience working through an agency account manager knows that they are typically managing multiple clients and traveling half of their time. Emailing requests and waiting days for responses or financial reports is not the ideal scenario for processing payments or investments quickly and efficiently. We approve requests that come through PayBev within minutes, rather than the hours or days that are more typical in our industry. We also utilize a third-party payment processor for ensuring payments go out daily rather than weekly. And just as important as transacting quickly, we provide confirmations and notifications to let you know the status of every request, through completion.

What changes do you notice from the investors?

Large suppliers have pivoted to more complex PO processes and third-party accounting tools to better track their ROI and ensure legal adherence. This undoubtedly creates longer processing times and puts more responsibility on the invoicing party. We have combatted this by training our accounting team in these applications and carefully programming each supplier’s process into our application. There is no sign supplier terms are going to reduce and in some cases, they are expanding. For instance, the top domestic beer suppliers now have payment terms between 90 and 120+ days after a PO is issued. This can easily push a payment out five months from when it has been requested. Agencies need to be hyper-aware of these challenges in order to best advise their clients. We utilize various touch points within each supplier’s organization to ensure investments are processed quickly and account holders know when to expect payment.

Do you have traditional account managers?

Most of our account holders manage their own programs using the PayBev application and our online tools. This allows us to be competitive on pricing while still offering platform support by online chat or over the phone. We also offer service agreements for accounts that need assistance getting started or want more personal investment advice. We pride ourselves on ensuring a great user experience in the application as well as timely and professional support.

Who is best suited for utilizing PayBev?

While any hospitality operators who currently utilize an agency for marketing support collections could benefit from our financial transparency, we are focused on expanding to up-and-coming regional hospitality accounts and large casual dining operations. It’s not necessarily about the number of units, considering we have single unit account holders all the way up to a thousand-unit chain. We look for high volume, well-managed accounts that want to lead their beverage program and partnerships. We provide all the tools and support to be successful.

What’s next for PayBev?

The big picture for PayBev is to create a community where beverage suppliers and hospitality operators are able to connect over shared interests. One step in that process is to build a proposal tool where suppliers are able to submit their brands for consideration in operator programs. RFPs have long been criticized by industry professionals for being tedious and inaccessible, so we’re excited to introduce this new application in late fall.