Anyone who has ever changed bank accounts knows there can be headaches that come along with the process. That’s what Plymouth resident Cale Johnston thought when he was working at a startup for remote deposits using photos of checks.
Johnston says that when the companies he was approaching told him they were looking for a product that would offer more benefit to their customers, an idea came to him. He would create ClickSWITCH, a tool to help customers switch their “banking account from their old financial institution to their new [one],” Johnston says. ClickSWITCH also helps clients connect automated payments like direct deposits and bills to their new accounts to save all the trouble of doing it themselves.
The first step in ClickSWITCH’s creation was building a demo site. Then Johnston brought the demo to banks and asked them to give feedback, he says. Once Johnston found clients, he was able to begin production in June of 2014, but the road to get there wasn’t easy.
“It’s a very humbling experience when you start your own business,” Johnston says. “You’re calling people, and they’re not answering ... and they’re not calling you back.” Johnston also had his family to consider. “[We] had a two-year-old and a one month old. I was sitting at my desk thinking, 'What did I just do?’”
The outcome ended up being “big risk and big reward” for Johnston. He says he loved the “organic growth in the community.” ClickSWITCH had no institutional funding from companies—instead, the business became a “bootstraps” organization, as Johnston calls it. The team was able to do it all themselves.
Since its inception, ClickSWITCH has grown to work with over 350 businesses in all 50 states as well as in Canada. They’ve grown from having 15 employees in January 2018 to having over 40 by January 2019.
“We focused on sales and growth and then capital,” Johnston explains. He wanted to make sure the business had a solid foundation and has received a tremendous response since.
“Walking into the office and seeing forty people now and the jobs we were able to create…It’s a very rewarding feeling for me,” Johnston says.
In 2018, the company won the Benzinga Fintech Award, a global award for the most innovative work in the financial technology and media sectors. Johnston says that while the company has been making money and receiving press, which are of course satisfying, winning the award was additional reassurance that ClickSWITCH was “still headed down the right path and still has a ton of people encouraging [them.]”
Employees love the company’s environment. ClickSWITCH’s human resources director, Cindy Deuser says she calls Johnston the “People’s CEO,” and adds that it’s “a rarity in the tech world.”
Thanks to all of Johnston’s hard work, and the efforts of ClickSWITCH’s team, switching bank accounts doesn’t need to be something to dread anymore.