According to Brian Goudie, CEO at Aurora Solutions, the company's present-day business structure was designed to, "bring the band together and grow together." A long-time First Data Corp. executive, Goudie assumed the helm at Applied Merchant Systems in 2017, months before the company rebranded as Aurora Solutions.
"We decided to leverage what everybody does well, then add value and resources through a management-parent company that stays focused on running the business while the subsidiaries continue doing what works for them," he said.
The idea gelled in 2015, when AMS took over a majority of the BlueSquare portfolio. Within the next two years, AMS raised capital from Prudential and Goldman Sacs, bought out key stakeholders, and actively scouted for acquisition prospects.
In 2018, AMS assumed control of all remaining BlueSquare assets and signed an agreement to bring Chosen Payments into its fold. In April 2018, the firm unveiled the new Aurora Solutions identity and operating structure, which placed AMS, BlueSquare and Chosen Payments under the new parent organization as subsidiary brands.
Aurora Solutions is based in Tempe, Ariz. and its senior executives include Goudie, Chief Operating Officer Adam Spencer and Chief Financial Officer Clay Hunt. Goudie oversees the AMS book and Aurora's organic portfolio. Jeff Brodsly and Adam Spencer manage the various other portfolios.
"The Aurora payments architecture supports everybody under the umbrella," Goudie said. "We run each property independently with guidelines and rules, and the parent entity checks the pulse, handles the finances and runs the platform." He believes the holding company keeps the brands strong by building the collective and growing a shared topline, with Chosen focused predominantly on independent software vendors and BlueSquare dedicated to financial transactions.
With respect to the overall package, Goudie stated, "We operate as a full-service provider, do all of our own settlement funding and own all of our merchant relationships." He cited the company's relationships with First Data and TSYS, indicating these partnerships afford Aurora with open access to multiple platforms and sponsor banks, providing them a wide net to offer selling partners and merchants. "We are agnostic to the platform, will work with any distribution company, and can offer a single Schedule A with enterprise-level pricing and no minimums, regardless of where the business goes," he noted.
In addition to in-house underwriting, boarding and support, Aurora has close-knit relationships with several POS providers, including Clover and Bluume, the engine that powers Aurora's social reputation product, Brand IQ. This platform monitors, measures and manages a merchant's social standing, enabling the merchant's business to grow. According to Goudie, a merchant's social reputation and presence can make or break a company within certain vertical industries. "We're big in petroleum and salons, and customers of these retailers are always looking for the company that has five stars in social," he said.
Indeed, serving vertical markets with the right tools and expertise is one of Aurora's primary ambitions. Goudie sees the company growing vertical by vertical, focusing on five to seven key vertical markets with companies that offer best-in-class technologies. "People like First Data have to create generic solutions to cover the broader markets, but we can isolate five to seven specific vertical markets and the companies within them that have a sustainable brand," he said.
As far as developing a bigger presence within those industries, Goudie confirmed Aurora will continue growing organically, but will also work with its investment partners to find portfolios that have a certain acumen in the firm's targeted areas.
And acquisitions outside these core markets are not off limits either. "There are other people that will come to us and won't have an area of specialty or a strategic vertical market," Goudie said. "We may purchase them, but they will be rolled up under the Aurora Solutions brand."
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