#MeetTheMember: Michel Gulick, Small Business Consultant, SpotOn

Member news | July 08, 2020

In our latest #MeetTheMember feature, we interviewed Michel Gulick, Small Business Consultant, SpotOn

Having raised billions in the private sector and millions in the nonprofit sector, with various entrepreneurial and leadership roles across multiple industries internationally, Michel is thrilled to provide his expertise to SMBs throughout the US, and empowering them with mission-critical payment and software solutions. Today, Michel is particularly focused on helping business owners to reopen smarter and stronger, and setting them up for long-term success and profitability in this 'new normal'.


FACC-NY: How have the events of 2020 impacted your industry in the ‘new normal’?

As a key SaaS and Fintech player, SpotOn serves tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in nearly every type of business sector across the country. Sadly, SMBs have suffered the most from this pandemic. As business closures rolled out in March, studies showed that 37% of small businesses did not have enough cash reserves to last more than one month, and another 32% wouldn’t make it past three months. In other words, 2 out of every 3 small businesses may never reopen again. 

Small businesses make up 99.9% of our economy, and of the 30.2 million small businesses that were registered in the US, 215,000 of those were in New York City… that is, before the pandemic. While a mind-blowing 11 million SMB jobs were lost in March-April, ADP showed some positive news that small business employment increased by 937,000 jobs in May-June, where 547,000 of those jobs were for small businesses with 1-19 employees, and 729,000 of those jobs were in the service-providing sector. However, SMBs need all the help they can get if they are fortunate enough to reopen, remain competitive and profitable.

Interestingly enough, this pandemic has created a ‘new normal’ for SMBs resulting in three significant changes. First, merchants and customers are shifting to a contactless payment experience as much as possible. Second, takeout and delivery for restaurants, previously accounting for only 10% of their revenues, suddenly forced restaurateurs to adapt to make this 100% of their business in order to survive, but not everyone has been properly or optimally setup, and delivery services continue to eat up 30% or more of their profits. As restaurants continue to reopen, it is clear that takeout and delivery will be a significant portion of their business moving forward, but they must adapt accordingly and strategically. Third, ‘by appointment only’ has become the ‘new normal’ for most retail types, particularly in small shops where social distancing limits the amount of people in their stores. 

The solution to all of these changes lies with the right technology. Fortunately, SpotOn is well positioned to help these merchants in all of these areas and more with our mission-critical payment and software solutions.

FACC-NY: How have the events of 2020 impacted your business in the ‘new normal’? 

For SpotOn, total processing volume of our SMB merchants dropped by 42% at its lowest point. Fortunately, volume has increased steadily since March 30th as businesses started reopening across the country. Here’s a thorough analysis to see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small business across the different business sectors: click here.

Before COVID, SpotOn had powerful payment and software solutions for business owners. Today, these solutions have become mission-critical for SMBs. 

Most notably, SpotOn offers: (1) contactless payment solutions for all our merchants, (2) digital marketingplatform to better engage with their customers, (3) integrated online ordering saves restaurants thousands of dollars while keeping revenues rolling and controlling their valuable data, and (4) appointment software for online booking, previously used only by merchants like salons, dentists and chiropractors yet now with social distancing, nearly all service-based SMBs need this from auto repair and florists to boutiques and hardware stores.

While some of our competitors laid off over 50% of their staff and cut programs or support for their merchants, SpotOn did the opposite. Fresh off of a $50 million investment from former Twitter executives in March, SpotOn immediately reinvested into product development and support, and has also been helping merchants in every possible way, as praised by Forbes magazine in March.

For instance, we waived all software fees for merchants from April-June, and waived online ordering setup and monthly fees for restaurants for all of 2020. As a result of this ‘new normal’, we reprioritized future product releases and have started rolling out product improvements and new products almost weekly the past month, and will continue to do so regularly. For instance, this week we released the alpha version of SpotOn Capital so that merchants will have an easy way to get the financial support they need. With SpotOn merchants, things are only getting better and better. 

For FACC members, SpotOn has created a special offer – please contact me for more info!

FACC-NY: If you could attribute three words to the future of your industry, what would they be?

Contactless. Communication. Technology. 

FACC-NY: Describe your approach for helping businesses achieve long term-success? 

Every business is unique, and while SpotOn has a large portfolio of solutions, every business is handled in its own way to streamline the business and optimize its growth potential. I start by researching the business and the industry, if I don’t know them already. My first meeting is much like going to have your car serviced, where in order to really understand the problems, I need to open up the hood and look inside the business. Once I identify the problems together with the merchant, I’m able to tailor solutions for them. 

SpotOn’s payment solutions are designed to help save the business money, and the software solutions are designed to help the business grow and earn more revenue. This unique solutions combo, coupled with white glove support and service, ensures long term success for our merchants. Our solutions are also extremely affordable, a prime consideration for any SMB, starting at only $25 per month. 

My personal favorite business type is restaurants, which are notoriously complex businesses with razor-thin profit margins, but this is where we shine the most. Our restaurant solutions are like the Ferrari of our product suite, with tools so extensive and powerful that can help them thrive and outperform in any scenario. 

Perhaps the best part is, SpotOn does not have contracts, so we need to earn our merchant’s business every day. If we do not perform the way we say we will, or if the merchant isn’t happy, they can always switch to someone else. Many of our competitors lock merchants into 1-3 year contracts, and then take advantage of them one way or another with no repercussion. This will never happen at SpotOn. We have no junk fees, no hidden fees, and only believe in transparent pricing with the best possible service (hence our A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau).

SpotOn’s motto is “your business is our business,” which means your success is our success. 

FACC-NY: Why did you choose NYC as your current home base?

I spent my early years in California between Silicon Valley and San Diego, then went to Europe for my MBA at ESSEC near Paris with an exchange at Bocconi in Milan, where I happened to meet my future wife, who was from Saint Petersburg. A year later, we were married, returned to San Francisco for the dot-com boom and bust, then spent seven years in Saint Petersburg, where I had great success in entrepreneurial ventures from private wealth management to commercial real estate. 

We moved to NYC in 2010, partly because it’s halfway between our families, but mostly for all the unique opportunities NYC has to offer both personally and professionally. As large as NYC is, it’s fascinating to experience the city comprised of many different neighborhoods. After having traveled to 35+ countries and nearly all the states, we settled in the Upper East Side with our kids, and couldn’t have been happier with our decision. 

Don’t’ get me wrong, though, it’s not without its struggles. But as the song goes, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” 

FACC-NY: Why did you join the FACC-NY network?

Being half French, I’ve always been looking for ways to be involved in the French community whenever possible. Now with SpotOn, I’m very excited to join FACC-NY, where I believe I can truly make a difference for SMB members and help educate them along the way. I look forward to making personal and professional contributions wherever I can. Thank you for this opportunity.