Fighting the System
Josh Krall (l) and Sheel Mohnot (r)
Score one for the little guy. In the opaque world of credit card processing, good deals are no longer the exclusive domain of the WalMarts, thanks to new startup, FeeFighters.
"Smaller guys have always gotten ripped off," explained Sheel Mohnot (TPR'02), FeeFighter's Director of Marketing.
"The pricing models are tiered for different types of credit cards. It's confusing and often full of bait and switch."
FeeFighters, co-founded by Carnegie Mellon alum Josh Krall (CS, CFA'01), offers an online marketplace where payment processors are held to strict guidelines. In just a few minutes, a merchant can enter information and receive clear, one-tier, competing bids.
Mohnot states that customers can save an average of 40 percent on their credit card processing fees. More than 20,000 customers have already used the service.
He adds that processors are eager to participate due to intense industry competition. Even with lower margins, each incremental customer adds to the processor's bottom line.
"We literally get at least five emails a day from processors asking to be in our marketplace," said Mohnot. "We include only the top processors that can service our customers with absolutely honest pricing and great service."
FeeFighters is the only company of its kind. Online lookalikes merely gather merchant information as leads to sell.
And FeeFighters is getting ready to launch a new product — a more powerful and flexible gateway for merchants to accept online payments.
Mohnot was inspired to join the startup world during his CMU days, where he began running side businesses.
"CMU enabled me to be here," he said. "I was encouraged during my entire time at school. I learned a lot from some really great professors in the classes I took at the Don Jones Center for Entrepreneurship."
The Center is now part of Carnegie Mellon's Greenlighting Startups Initiative — a consortium of campus incubators with an impressive record of turning campus innovations into sustainable new businesses. The group also includes the new Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund (OFEF), providing early-stage financing to young alumni.
"I'm really excited by the initiative," said Mohnot. "I think it's fantastic for the university and for the city. The new OFEF is awesome — a great thing. I've heard it being talked about as a reason for attending CMU."
"CMU is such a big part of the startup environment," he added. "You won't believe how many times I'll be in a roomful of people and run into someone that I recognize from campus."