Founder Spotlight: Kyle Collier, CEO of Phaze
Phaze provides large enterprises with a secure payment API to issue digital gift cards, cash cards, and prepaid mobile top-ups to their users. Phaze supports digital gift cards in over 100 countries, making it the go-to platform for digital wallets, neo-banks, and gaming platforms.
Phaze founder and CEO Kyle Collier is ready to cash in on the growing usage of digital wallets by providing a white-label infrastructure solution for large enterprises. Collier is a University of Waterloo systems engineering graduate and is an experienced founder. He said Phaze is solving an emerging problem for businesses and consumers who interact digitally.
"There are many ways to accumulate value online, whether you're in a game, clicking on ads, or performing a task through a service. These kinds of actions are essentially a way to accumulate value—but converting it into something spendable on a global scale is a significant challenge," Collier said.
The challenge that Phaze solves is providing a way for users to convert their digital currencies and points into a form consumers can use for everyday purchases. Phaze does this by providing a way for consumers to convert their digital currencies into 3,000 different brands of digital gift cards, including prepaid credit cards and Amazon gift cards. Phaze's customers include online gaming, neo-banks, and other platforms. Phaze is being used in 150 countries, supporting 30 currencies.
"These platforms always strive for a global audience, but that comes with the challenge of paying out to people in different countries. That's what we focus on—a single integration that gives you a way to pay out users in prepaid cards."
Phaze is designed to be used in a system where people accumulate value or currency in a digital wallet. Collier said one example is users completing tasks in an app like TaskRabbit.
"Maybe you walk someone's dog and you get paid in the app. Instead of receiving the funds in your bank—which can include a fee and a waiting period—our system lets the user get a gift card for Starbucks or a Visa card. That's the infrastructure we provide," Collier said.
Phaze is also a potential solution for providers looking to offer financial services to underserved markets. According to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) report, an estimated 4.5 percent of U.S. households were considered unbanked in 2021. Unbanked is defined as a household where no member has a chequing or savings account at a bank or credit union.
"That's one of the other very unique things about prepaid digital cards you don't need to have a bank account to use them. All you need is a mobile device to redeem it online or in-store. This is kind of where we see the majority of our customers," Collier said.
When he was a student at the University of Waterloo, Collier said he had always been intrigued by the successful companies graduating from the Accelerator Centre. He said he had spoken to other entrepreneurs who shared their positive experiences over the years.
"All those experiences gave me a sense of trust and security that this space is actually doing meaningful things for people and helping them build their businesses. The AC:Studio program is great because it provides direct mentorship for a lot of the things that we as entrepreneurs want to do, but don't know how to get started."
The majority of Phaze's team are engineers by training. Collier said that getting guidance on sales and marketing was critical to setting the company up for success. He added that until joining AC:Studio, most of the outreach was through their existing networks.
"We went through the mentor sessions and they helped us put structure around what we're doing. Kevin Hood introduced us to people that can help us streamline the sales process and helped us figure out how to hire people for sales roles," Collier said.
Collier said that the mentorship is adding value to their entire team. From executives to developers, Phaze staff have booked sessions with Hood to extend their understanding of B2B sales.
"This is another thing that was really valuable for our company. As a small company, we don't have a structured training program or mentorship program. Giving our junior employees access to all these mentors was really helpful for them. I was really surprised how many of them actually wanted to set up meetings and things that are outside of their normal job duties."
Knowing what you don't know and when to ask for help have been critical to Collier's success. He said the Accelerator Centre mentors provide founders with expert mentors who guide them through issues in business areas outside of their expertise or experience.
"First-time entrepreneur experiences are always quite learning-focused. But even as an experienced founder, the Accelerator Centre has been really helpful in many regards. The one on one mentor sessions has taught me how to look for the right qualities in people and ask the right questions."
AC:Studio is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and is delivered in partnership with WEtech Alliance, Innovate Niagara, Conestoga College, SnapPea, Uvaro, Bereskin & Parr, PWC, and Gowling WLG.