René Lacerte, the founder and CEO of Bill.com, serial entrepreneur and financial technology legend, is a leader by nature. The tech executive has launched two highly successfully business payments companies, first PayCycle, which was sold to Intuit in 2009, and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Bill.com, a leading online bill payments tool.
As a successful entrepreneur himself, Lacerte embodies the strong work ethic of a visionary tech CEO.
“Entrepreneurship - at its core - is creating something out of nothing. The really hard work begins after planting the seed and then working hard (sometimes for decades) to reach your vision. It requires commitment to a vision as well as commitment to the personal growth to lead the company towards its potential,” René told the Huffington Post in an interview.
Throughout his career, the goal of Lacerte’s businesses was always to make things easier for business owners, allowing them to streamline decision making processes and take action more efficiently.
Prior to Bill.com, PayCycle grew to be the largest online payroll platform for small businesses. The company served about 100,000 customers when it sold to Intuit for $170 million. René attributes much of his success to mentors in his life, including three generations before him of entrepreneurs. He says that he learned from his father and grandfather that “cash is king,” engraining in him the importance of stretching out payables and receivables as far as possible.
The tech CEO says that he came up with the idea for Bill.com in direct response to a problem that he had when he was running PayCycle and trying to follow his family’s advice. At PayCycle, René was extremely frustrated and overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork that piled onto his desk every Friday, missing the information, context and content he felt necessary to make the best payment decisions.
That’s where Bill.com came into play. Founded in 2005, Bill.com helps businesses automate payables and receivables and sync them with their applications. The B2B payments platform uses APIs to connect banks and accounting services such as Xero and NetSuite, connecting partners through a network of data pipes that filters data accordingly. By slashing the time companies spend approving and paying bills, Bill.com seeks to give back its customers time and resources to focus on the most critical aspects of their businesses. It also offers executives, managers, clerks, customers, vendors and accountants a place to collaborate and store their documents securely on the cloud, without the need fore mundane data entry.
The SaaS company competes with the likes of ZipBooks and Wave, along with a growing number of financial technology players. As a leader in the industry, the company helps over 1,000,000 network members process over $25 billion in payments annually. Customers include three of the top ten U.S. banks and 35% of the leading 100 accounting firms.
Along with being partially credited for the idea behind Bill.com, Rene’s father taught his son what it means to overcome obstacles with self-determination and courage. His father, born with only four fingers, found himself without a willing piano teacher. He decided he would learn on his own, and became a “fabulous musician,” Rene told Cleverism in an interview. He highlights a particular memory in 1977, when Chuck Mangione released the hit “Feels so good.” Rene’s father simply brought the song home and was playing it the next day, “just as good as Chuck.” The SaaS leader saw his father successfully apply this work ethic both personally and throughout his career, and took it to heart in all of his endeavors.
“When you care about something it is worth fighting for. And you don’t listen to the detractors, you just kind of focus on what you know you’re capable of and you just do it. So that’s probably the most important lesion that I’ve learned,” said the fourth-generation serial entrepreneur. Rene suggests that while the importance of managing cash flow cannot be understated, launching a successfully company all comes down to perseverance, focus and a drive to get s*** done. He leads Bill.com with values including “no ego,” “love what you do,” “celebrate the moments,” and offer dedication “to each other and the customer.”
Outside of his work at Bill.com, Rene remains active with his two young boys, playing ultimate Frisbee, running, biking and skiing.