Before he had even matriculated at Boston College, Bill Clerico, CEO of WePay and BC ’07, met his future roommate, business partner, and friend Rich Aberman, vice president of Product of WePay and BC ’07, at Boston Logan International Airport while waiting for a bus to pick them up to take them to BC. Now, their joint venture, WePay, an interface for facilitating payments, has just raised $15 million to fund further growth and development.
“We just raised our Series C financing of $15 million,” Clerico said. “This was led by Phil Purcell, former CEO of Morgan Stanley and creator of Discover Card.”
The WePay that is on the market now is not the same product that Clerico and Aberman created just a year and a half after graduation. Clerico explained that, when he quit his job in investment banking in August of 2008, it was because he and Aberman wanted to “make it easy for friends to collect money from friends.”
“We reached a point where this is what we wanted to do,” Clerico said. “Rich left a full tuition scholarship at NYU, and we started working on the idea. We built an early prototype ourselves.”
Later on, Clerico said that they hired a few students from MIT to work on the project part-time and connected with Peter Bell, a trustee of BC, who served as an early mentor. After being accepted into Y Combinator, an incubator program based out of Silicon Valley that fosters, advises, and offers seed funding to startups, they moved the company out west and set up in San Jose. He said that their next project was to get users and funding.
“We raised some money-$1.7 million-led by August Capital and Max Levchin, the co-founder and CTO of Paypal, in November of 2009,” Clerico said.
When they were looking to raise money for their Series A funding, they did not go very far, turning to Bell and, through him, Highland Capital Partners, with whom they raised $7 million.
By 2012, when WePay raised $10 million as its Series B round of financing, Clerico said that they were starting to change their product.
“We started a transition,” Clerico said. “We moved away from group payments, person-to-person payments. Instead of helping individuals raise money, we are trying to build for platform businesses-marketplaces and crowd funding. We are working with big partners who leverage our product.”
Now, Clerico said they are trying to make a shift again, albeit a different kind of one.
“I think the last series was about that transition,” Clerico said. “The Series C is about scale-it’s about scaling that strategy. There are two key initiatives. One is international expansion-a lot of the large companies want to be able to work cross-borders. The second is more flexibility … to further invest in our product.”
In choosing to leave investment banking to start up WePay, Clerico cited several influential experiences that he had while attending BC.
“I took a couple of classes with professor John Gallagher-management info systems, TechTrek West, and that was for me a pivotal moment in sparking my interest in start-ups,” Clerico said. “It was the first time I set foot in Silicon Valley. It awoke a passion in me [for] business technology.”
Another influential experience he had was his first venture, also with Aberman-a business that sold taxi advertisements but was ultimately unsuccessful.
What was successful, however, was the BC Venture Competition (BCVC), which he started his senior year with a couple other BC students.
“On the leadership side, I think of my time working with the American Red Cross in Boston,” Clerico said. “I volunteered on the Disasters Response Team. I became a Disasters Services Team Leader … it taught me a lot about being a team leader.”
In addition to Clerico and Aberman, WePay now has BC grads in sales, support, and risk management, including one of Clerico’s classmates from TechTrek.