20VC Checkout.com Founder Guillaume Pousaz on The Transition From Bootstrapped Founder to Raising $830M and a $15Bn Valuation, What It Means To Have 3 Roadmaps For Life & How Becoming a Parent Changes the Type of Leader You Are



In this episode of 20 VC, Harry Stebbings interviews Guillaume Puzaz, the founder and CEO of Checkout.com, a leading global payment solutions provider. Puzaz shares his journey of bootstrapping Checkout.com from its inception in 2012 to securing a record-breaking $230 million Series A in 2019, and subsequent funding rounds totaling over $600 million from notable firms like Insight, DST, CO2, Tiger Blossom, GIC, and Green Oaks. With a valuation of $15 billion, Checkout.com has grown to over 900 employees and has become a category leader in payments. Puzaz reflects on his early passion for technology, the pivotal moments that led to founding Checkout.com, the strategic decision to delay fundraising until after proving the company's value, and the importance of hiring for cultural fit. He emphasizes the role of humility, passion, and kindness in both personal and professional life, and the need for continuous learning and embracing challenges as an entrepreneur.

Summary Notes

Introduction to 20VC Podcast Episode

  • Harry Stebbings hosts the podcast 20VC.
  • Transcripts for episodes are available at 20VC.com for newsletter subscribers.
  • Harry introduces Guillaume Pousaz, founder and CEO of Checkout.com.

This is 20 VC with me, Harry Stebings, and if you'd like to see the transcripts for 20 VC episodes, you can now go to 20 VC.com and sign up for the newsletter.

The quote establishes the availability of episode transcripts for those interested in the podcast's content, promoting the newsletter subscription.

Guillaume Pousaz and Checkout.com

  • Guillaume Pousaz built Checkout.com away from the public eye for seven years.
  • Checkout.com is a leading global payment solutions provider and highly valued European private company.
  • Pousaz bootstrapped Checkout.com until a record-breaking Series A funding round.
  • The company has since raised additional funds and scaled significantly.

I'm thrilled to welcome Guillon Puzzaz, founder and CEO@checkout.com. One of the world's lead in global payment solutions providers and one of Europe's most valuable private companies, Guillaume founded Checkout.com in 2012 and bootstrapped the business until its record breaking $230,000,000 Series A, led by Insight and DST in 2019.

The quote introduces Guillaume Pousaz and outlines the impressive growth and funding of his company, Checkout.com, highlighting its significance in the payment solutions industry.


  • Harry thanks Carmen Alfonso Rico for the introduction.
  • Harry also thanks Devon at Insight for question suggestions.

I'd also have to say a huge thank you to Carmen Alfonso Rico for the fantastic introduction today, and then also to Devon at Insight for some brilliant question suggestions.

The quote shows Harry's appreciation for the contributions of individuals who facilitated the podcast episode, emphasizing the collaborative nature of the show.

  • Carter offers equity issuance services to employees of over 16,000 companies.
  • Cooley is a law firm specializing in startups, venture capital, and IPOs.

Carter makes it as easy to issue equity to your employees as it is to issue payroll. [...] Cooley's form more venture capital funds than any other law firm in the world.

The quote promotes Carter and Cooley, highlighting their services and expertise in equity issuance and legal support for venture capital, respectively.

Guillaume Pousaz's Background and Checkout.com's Origin

  • Pousaz has been involved with computers since childhood.
  • His early exposure to technology shaped his belief in its progression.
  • Pousaz's "aha" moment came while working at a payment company in California.
  • He foresaw the growth of internet commerce and the role of payments in it.

One of the things I will say is that I started with computers at a very, very young age [...] it didn't take two and two for me to understand that commerce on the Internet was going to be a big thing.

The quote reflects on Pousaz's early interest in technology and his realization of the potential for online commerce, which led to the founding of Checkout.com.

Checkout.com's Funding Journey

  • Checkout.com was bootstrapped until winning a significant contract.
  • Pousaz focused on building a strong foundation before scaling.
  • The company prioritized hiring quality engineers over quantity.
  • Insight and DST led the Series A funding round due to their scaling expertise.

So I think that when we actually won this, we then realized that we were, like, changing gears. [...] We had built a lot of the business, but we knew that the time was infinite.

The quote explains the strategic decision to seek funding after achieving a milestone and the desire for mentorship and expertise from investors to facilitate growth.

Capital Efficiency and Growth Mindset

  • Checkout.com maintained capital efficiency despite large fundraising rounds.
  • The company's growth has been disciplined, and funds raised remain largely unspent.
  • Pousaz sought investors who aligned with the company's vision and offered mentorship.

I mean, we have lightened the fires because the company is growing at 100%, but we have never spent a single dollar of the money that we have raised.

The quote highlights the company's disciplined growth approach, emphasizing that raising capital was not for immediate spending but for strategic stability and mentorship.

Personal and Company Identity

  • Guillaume Pousaz discusses the intertwining of personal identity with the company's identity.
  • He acknowledges that while Checkout is a huge part of his identity, it is also developing its own distinct identity.
  • The company's identity is shaped by its management team, employees, and the CEO/founder's identity.
  • Guillaume emphasizes the importance of both paths complementing each other and maintaining coherence.

"Obviously, checkout is a huge part of my identity, and I think it will always be. But at the same time, now checkout is basically building its own identity."

Guillaume Pousaz is expressing how Checkout.com is an integral part of his personal identity, but he also recognizes that the company is evolving to have its own separate identity that is shaped by its leadership and employees.

Long-Term Strategic Planning

  • Guillaume Pousaz outlines his approach to long-term planning with two-year, five-year, and ten-year roadmaps.
  • The two-year roadmap is set and focuses on execution, while the five-year roadmap involves strategic decisions.
  • He emphasizes capital efficiency and strategic investor partnerships with firms like Tiger and Kotu for growth and understanding public markets.

"I basically have, like, three roadmaps, a two year roadmap, a five year roadmap, and a ten year roadmap."

This quote illustrates Guillaume's forward-thinking strategy and structured approach to leading Checkout.com, with clearly defined short, medium, and long-term goals.

Leadership and Self-Doubt

  • Guillaume Pousaz discusses the challenges of scaling leadership and dealing with self-doubt.
  • He credits mentorship, a humble approach, and a supportive personal life, including his wife and family, as key to managing these challenges.
  • He emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and growth as a CEO and entrepreneur.

"I was never the CEO of 100 people company 300 or 1000. So first of all, don't be an entrepreneur if you don't want to deal with hardship, because I think that's part of the job and you're going to have to live with it."

Guillaume Pousaz addresses the inevitability of hardship in entrepreneurship and the necessity of adapting to new challenges as the company grows.

Impact of Parenthood on Leadership

  • Guillaume Pousaz reflects on how becoming a father at 26 provided him with stability and discipline.
  • He draws parallels between being a good father and being a good CEO, suggesting that both roles can be nurturing and thorough.
  • He encourages those considering parenthood not to overthink the timing and to embrace the experience.

"I always said, like, being a good dad also makes you being a good CEO."

This quote connects the skills and values of parenthood with effective leadership, indicating that the qualities that make one a good parent can also contribute to being a good CEO.

Relationship to Money

  • Guillaume Pousaz shares his views on the evolving relationship to money and the importance of maintaining a sense of hunger as an entrepreneur.
  • He stresses that Checkout.com was not founded with the goal of making money but has grown beyond expectations.
  • He shares personal practices, such as flying economy with his family, to instill discipline and avoid spoiling oneself.

"I think it's fair to say that we never thought it would be as big as it is today. And now we still believe that we're at chapter zero because we really believe we're scratching the surface of what's possible."

Guillaume Pousaz reflects on the unexpected growth of Checkout.com and maintains a humble perspective, emphasizing that there is still much potential to explore.

Advice on Parenthood and Timing

  • Guillaume Pousaz advises against over-engineering the decision to have children and suggests following one's gut feeling.
  • He shares his personal experience of becoming a father earlier than planned and how it positively impacted his life and leadership.

"When is the right time is the right time. And if you try to think about it, I'm not saying you're in the wrong. We're all different. But I wanted to have kids when I'm 32. I ended up being a father when I was 26."

Guillaume Pousaz advises that there is no perfect time to have children and that becoming a parent can have a transformative effect on one's life and character.

Personal Contentment and Professional Drive

  • Guillaume Pousaz expresses satisfaction with his personal life, including leisure activities and family.
  • He emphasizes the importance of appreciating what one has, while also maintaining a drive to achieve more professionally.
  • Guillaume discusses the balance between gratitude for current achievements and the desire to build a lasting, impactful company.

"So, first of all, we are super grateful for what we have. And that's something like, every day I look at the company, I look at my kids, I look at my wife, we're a happy family and achieved a lot with work."

This quote highlights Guillaume's recognition of his achievements and his gratitude for his family and work life.

"Because I want to build really a company that is long lasting, that transcends generations, and we have a town a total addressable market. That is huge."

Guillaume expresses his ambition to create a company with a lasting legacy and acknowledges the significant market opportunity that exists for his business.

Decision-Making as a CEO

  • Guillaume Pousaz discusses his approach to decision-making, which is largely based on instinct and gut feeling.
  • He describes the CEO role as navigating a probability tree, where the quantity and speed of good decisions are crucial.
  • Guillaume is open to making mistakes and views them as learning opportunities.

"I don't have a framework. I make a lot of gut feel decisions and instinctive decisions."

Guillaume admits to relying on his instincts rather than a structured framework when making decisions.

"It's the ratio of good decision and the average waited time that you take them. That is actually the key."

He emphasizes the importance of making good decisions quickly and learning from any mistakes that occur.

Hiring and Team Building

  • Guillaume shares his experience with hiring, including a nine-month process to find the right CTO.
  • He stresses the importance of cultural fit and shared values over just talent.
  • Guillaume believes in the power of quick, instinctive decisions in hiring, as long as the candidate aligns with the company's values.

"It's just like, it's the light bulb moment. And I think talent is really. Of course you want people who have experience in everything, but talent is not the only thing."

This quote reflects Guillaume's belief that finding the right team member is about more than just talent; it's about a moment of recognition and shared values.

"But the reality is that I'm not the sole decision maker ever, especially for a role like the CTO, where two thirds of the company is product and engineering today."

Guillaume acknowledges the collaborative nature of the hiring process, especially for key positions like the CTO.

Stress Testing Cultural Fit

  • Guillaume discusses the challenge of assessing cultural fit in a fast-paced labor market.
  • He describes the interview process at his company, which includes a data-driven approach with scorecards to evaluate candidates against the company's values.
  • The importance of a united management team is emphasized, as it sets the tone for the rest of the company.

"We are a value driven company. We believe in our values. We believe in our operating principles."

Guillaume explains that the company's values and operating principles are central to their decision-making process, including hiring.

"And if it is, then we go for it. But I think a united management team is probably what's most important, because everything starts from the top and then it's being pushed down."

He underlines the significance of having a management team that is aligned and can effectively disseminate the company's vision throughout the organization.

Encouraging Dissent and Debate

  • Guillaume highlights the importance of open debate and dissent within the company.
  • He mentions specific practices like whiteboarding rooms and one-on-one meetings to foster communication and feedback.
  • The culture of the company is described as organic, with an emphasis on transparency and action on feedback.

"It's not one of our operating principles, but it's something that everyone knows at checkout is the obligation to dissent."

Guillaume points out that while not formally stated, the expectation to voice disagreements is well understood within the company.

"It's the sum of the parts. And I think if you really have a kind of transparent structure and you actually action the feedback of people, then it kind of works."

He believes that the collective contributions of all employees, facilitated by a transparent culture, lead to a successful organizational environment.

Company Scaling Challenges

  • Guillaume reflects on the challenges of scaling the company, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • He talks about the necessity of open communication channels and responsiveness to employee needs.
  • The CEO's role is portrayed as both driving the business forward and being attentive to the well-being of the company's people.

"So, I mean, we're in a very strange time. I mean, when Covid hit, there was 550 of us, and now there's nearly 1200."

Guillaume provides context for the company's rapid growth and the unique challenges presented by the pandemic.

"But the people of a company are the catalyst of that company."

He acknowledges that the employees are the driving force behind the company's success and growth.

Importance of Company Culture and People

  • The company's success is directly tied to the happiness of its people.
  • A value-driven and mission-driven approach is central to the company's philosophy.
  • Belief in company values and instilling those values in employees is crucial.

"The company is only as good as the people. So you need to really make sure that as many people as possible are happy."

This quote emphasizes the importance of employee satisfaction in the overall success of a company.

"A value driven company is about the people, and we believe in our values and we believe in people."

This quote highlights the company's commitment to its core values and belief in the positive impact of its people.

Time Management and Delegation

  • Effective time management is achieved through delegation and empowering team members to make decisions.
  • The speaker has developed a system of meetings and time slots to optimize his schedule.
  • Regularly reviewing and assessing the necessity of meetings to improve time management.

"The less decisions I see, the better. I very much more, like, empower people to make decisions."

This quote demonstrates the speaker's strategy of delegating decision-making to improve efficiency.

"I have three types of meetings. I have the 15 minutes meeting, the 30 minutes meeting and the 45 minutes meeting."

This quote outlines the structured approach to scheduling meetings to maximize productivity.

"I always keep 15 minutes in each hour to do emails and whatsapp."

The speaker reserves time for communication within a tightly managed schedule.

Email and Communication Management

  • The speaker uses a labeling system in Gmail to prioritize emails.
  • Despite the high volume of emails, this system allows for effective management of communication.
  • WhatsApp remains a challenge for the speaker due to its personal nature and volume.

"I have three labels only in Gmail. I have urgent, end of the day, end of the week."

This quote explains the speaker's method for categorizing and prioritizing emails.

"WhatsApp is personal. I have my wife sending me pictures of my kids and things like this."

This quote highlights the personal aspect of WhatsApp, making it harder to manage like work emails.

Personal Growth and Reading Habits

  • The speaker values continuous learning and personal growth through reading.
  • He listens to a significant number of books, particularly enjoying sci-fi like "Dune" by Frank Herbert.

"I listen to a lot of books as well. Audible is actually hugely important to me."

This quote reflects the speaker's commitment to learning and the importance of audiobooks in his routine.

"Dune from Frank Herbert, because ultimately it's an amazing book. It's one of the best Sci-Fi books ever."

The speaker shares his favorite book, revealing his personal interests and influences.

Work-Life Balance and Decision-Making

  • Balancing the demands of work and personal life is a key challenge.
  • The ability to say no and manage time effectively is crucial for maintaining balance.

"Balance. Everything. You have constant people coming to you for questions and things and being able to say no."

This quote identifies the difficulty in managing the numerous demands on the speaker's time.

Perspective on Competition

  • Competition is viewed positively as it encourages improvement and staying proactive.
  • The speaker sees the value in competition within his industry space.

"Competition is very good. Keeps you on the tip of your toes."

This quote suggests that competition is beneficial as it drives the speaker and his company to be better.

Traits for Future Generations

  • The speaker hopes his children will adopt humility, passion, and kindness.
  • These traits are seen as essential for personal fulfillment and contributing positively to society.

"Humidity, for sure, because I think this is in our dna at checkout. And for me as a human being, passion, because I want my kids to have the same passion that I have."

This quote reflects the speaker's desire for his children to share his values and enthusiasm for life.

Admiration for Leaders

  • Bill Gates is admired for his business success and philanthropic work.
  • The speaker is inspired by Gates' ability to transition from a business leader to a global philanthropist.

"I'm amazed how at 53, when he's on top of the world with Microsoft, he says, hey, I'm going to quit and I'm going to work in my foundation."

This quote shows the speaker's respect for Bill Gates' decision to focus on philanthropy after a successful career in technology.

Acquiring Talent

  • Authenticity and genuineness are crucial when attracting top talent.
  • People can discern inauthenticity, which can lead to issues later on.

"Just be genuine. If you're not genuine and authentic, people see through you."

This quote underscores the importance of honesty in the recruitment process.

Future of Checkout

  • The speaker anticipates continued growth for Checkout in terms of people, merchants, products, and geographies.
  • The company aims to reinvent how businesses interact with financial services.

"I think nothing compounds like payment, so it's kind of hard to say, but I think it's going to be more growth."

This quote predicts significant growth for Checkout, emphasizing the scalability of the payment sector.

"We're still at chapter zero. And I really believe that. I believe that we can sell a lot more products to merchants."

The speaker conveys a strong belief in the potential for Checkout to expand its offerings and impact on the economy.

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