Rohan Champion, 43, cofounder, chairman, and CEO of eTime Capital, a Sunnyvale, California-based startup that was launched in 1999. ETime offers an automated accounts-receivable process that helps companies get paid faster.
"There's a big difference between making the sale and collecting the cash. For decades, companies have been telling their customers that they have to pay up in 'net 30 days.' But in the United States, the average age of outstanding receivables is 53 days. In parts of Europe, that number climbs to 77 days, and in Japan, companies sometimes take more than 180 days — 6 months — to collect.
"When receivables go beyond 40 days, it's usually because customers can't figure out what they need to pay for and how much they need to pay for it. Often, there are big discrepancies between how much customers think that they owe and how much suppliers think that they're owed.
"Our job is to eliminate those discrepancies. As soon as an order enters a seller's information system, our service knows that it's there. We learn everything about that order: customer information, line-item information, payment information and terms, 'bill-to' and 'ship-to' information. Then we process that data: Do the quantities and prices match up? If everything matches up, then we notify the seller that the transaction is clean, and we tell the company how much the customer owes."
Hedging the Bet
"This service is not just about managing receivables — it's also about generating information. The lifeblood of any company is the transactions that flow through it. We give companies the capability to manage those transactions in real time."
"The promise of e-commerce is that customers can buy anything that they need — instantaneously. In other words, almost the entire GDP of the United States is just 24 hours away. And 70% of the whole world's GDP is a mere 72 hours away. If we're moving toward instant ordering and overnight fulfillment, why would any company wait 40 days to get paid?"
Contact Rohan Champion by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or visit eTime Capital on the Web (www.etimecapital.com).
A version of this article appeared in the June 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.