Has a problem or injustice ever struck a chord with you such that you can no longer unsee it? When that happens, we face a spectrum of choices, from doing nothing to venturing wholeheartedly. Mesh is a story about the latter.
It all began with a small family business
How my family put food on the table depended upon my dad's small auto parts business. People in our small town knew my dad, and that’s how they initially trusted our family business.
As the world digitized, however, small businesses like ours started struggling to access the competitive credit, insurance premiums, and opportunities increasingly reserved for larger entities on which reporting agencies had better records.
For my dad, Tito, proving our family business’s legitimacy and trustworthiness with third parties who did not know him often ended in an uphill battle or rejection due to perceived risks stemming from a thin file. Seeing my dad struggle was unsettling, and I felt utterly helpless.
Our system hinders legitimate new, small, and micro businesses…
Years later, after attending Stanford and launching multiple businesses for Amazon, I took on an initiative to help small businesses thrive. I told my parents how their journey had inspired me to help other small businesses at scale. Tito was so happy that he cried joyfully.
At Amazon, I learned the same identity and trustworthiness issues persisted despite efforts from product, design, engineering, data science teams, a stack of third-party vendors, and hordes of manual reviewers. If business identity was so tough to solve for the world’s most sophisticated companies, what’s left for the rest of the economy?
The real revelation came when I understood the problem disproportionately affects new, small, and micro businesses. In a system intended to foster fair competition, our data infrastructure hinders the very businesses it should support the most. And we all pay the price.
…and that is bad
This problem is bad, especially since SMBs create 7 out of 10 jobs, but go out of business at record rates1. At the same time, the lack of accurate business data results in significant financial losses for companies; the average company writes off more than 2% of its revenue due to uncollectible bad debts, costing over $20 billion annually in the US. Seller fraud in ecommerce marketplaces adds insult to injury, accounting for 4% of revenue. And as if that were not bad enough, the lack of proper business vetting in the digital economy prevents marketplaces from effectively using accurate data to protect consumers, as one investigation from the Wall Street Journal on a marketplace exemplified.
I had a unique vantage point, understanding the problem vividly from a small business owner's perspective and from a sophisticated company struggling to get small businesses verified.
And I just could not unsee that problem.
Mesh is a purpose-driven startup
Motivated by a deep sense of purpose, I quit a job I loved at Amazon and started Mesh.
As a purpose-driven company, Mesh aims to architect the most trusted platform to help companies verify any business they engage with – no matter how new or small. Mesh is about weaving a fair, inclusive, and accurate fabric of trust, one verification at a time.
Today, Mesh helps companies seamlessly verify, onboard, and monitor any legitimate U.S. business –along with their registration, licensing, insurance, and background information. We call it Multi-Factor Business Identity. And SMBs and sole proprietors love it (99%+ of verified small businesses give a thumbs up to our custom-branded solution companies can integrate with). We work relentlessly to cover 100% of registered businesses and state-licensed trade professionals in a (growing) number of categories. And we deliver a no-brainer ROI for companies using Mesh.
To every Tito out there: we see you
To level the playing field for small businesses, we assist the companies that serve them across the economy, starting with marketplaces, ecommerce, and vendor/contractor compliance. We offer real-time verifications with hundreds of governments, partner data networks, our proprietary data network, and dynamic data capture through a single universal API.
My dad, Tito, passed away unexpectedly only a few weeks after I took that screenshot. His hope for an inclusive identity data layer for all small businesses, however, lives with Mesh.
To all small businesses, sole proprietors, professionals, and entrepreneurs like Tito out there: we see you, we help companies see you, and we’re just getting started.
1 Nearly 70% of SMBs don’t make it to their tenth anniversary.