Profile: John Lunn – Conducting the Payments Orchestra

Profile: John Lunn – Conducting the Payments Orchestra

Mark Beresford
September 6, 2021

John Lunn is an experienced technology and FinTech entrepreneur with 21 years of experience working and investing in financial services, commerce enablement, e-payments, data, security, and infrastructure.  John was the 36themployee globally and worked as the Director of Technology for six years at CyberSource, the world’s first payment service provider, which was sold to Visa for $2Bn in 2010. He then helped found Passmark Security which was sold to RSA Security in 2006.

In 2006, John joined PayPal as the 4 employee in the UK, as the Global Director of Developer and Startup Relations, he built and grew PayPal’s first Developer Relations team. In 2015 he orchestrated the purchase of Braintree by PayPal and joined the team. In 2016, John launched PayPal Ventures, the venture capital arm of PayPal, a $350m fund. The fund quickly became one of the most active FinTech investors in Silicon Valley. John was Board Observer for Dosh, Arkose, Raise, Acorns, Toss and many others.

John was involved in a project in his previous role looking at how to roll out a cashier-less store in San Francisco.  During the project, it became clear that although this was a cool concept and hit all his geek buttons that retailers could be discriminating against people who didn't have the latest smartphone or a bank account/credit card which meant the project was cancelled. This has made John even more driven to work towards making e-commerce and payments accessible to all. If the best deals are online then they need to be available to everyone, not just the most privileged which led John to found Gr4vy to make payments as inclusive as possible using payment orchestration as the key to unlock the full potential of payments.

As we already know when naming your next unicorn company, you don't need vowels to get your point across. If the domain name you want is taken, don’t worry, Flickr, Tumblr, Scribd has made dropping vowels from the company name popular and we have now seen it for the first time in the emerging domain of payments orchestration.

At the end of August, I spoke with John Lunn, CEO & Founder of Gr4vy. Firstly, we spoke about the company name - so why Gr4vy? In the kitchen gravy is a sauce made with meat juices and flour served with meat and vegetables. Memories of Sunday roast dinner spring to mind. Gravy makes a meal so much better. The word “gravy” is also commonly used as slang for “money, success, riches” especially if obtained very easily or unexpectedly, or in addition to what might be expected. For a retailer, gravy could be seen as the sauce to make everything work better - more smoothly and efficiently. Retailing is complex enough with accounting, treasury, supply chain management, fulfilment, logistics, customer services, etc.  Payments have only made retailing more complicated.

The new company, called Gr4vy, pronounced “gravy” closed its Series A funding round of $11.1M, led by Nyca Partners with participation from Activant Capital, Global Founders Capital, and Firestartr in April 2021. Gr4vy was founded in 2020 by John Lunn, Ali Minaei and Cristiano Betta, a team of payment experts with over 30 years of combined experience working in the most successful payment companies in the world. The company is based in California and has people based on both sides of the Atlantic.

Gr4vy generates individual cloud instances for each retailer. This means no sharing server loads with other retailers or the resulting slowdowns and no single point of failure. Any retailer selling to consumers that have two or more payment service providers are potential customers for a POP. Gr4vy as a Cloud Infrastructure offers flexibility to fit into existing and future architecture needs for retailers. Gr4vy understands that more complex needs seen in the travel and airline sectors have meant that John Lunn and his team are prepared to offer a simplification of payments acceptance.

When not orchestrating payments, John enjoys road biking long distances and is preparing to ride the 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the Aids Lifecycle.  John enjoys open water swimming in the cold shark-infested Pacific Ocean.  He is also a keen guitarist, but his 3 kids take up a lot of his hobby time.  John always likes to have two books on the go, one Fiction and one non-fiction.  His current fiction book is Salvation by one of his favourite Sci-Fi authors Peter F. Hamilton. The non-fiction book is “Survival of the Friendliest” by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods which is a counterpoint to Darwin’s “Survival of the fittest” and that we survived as a species by cooperating not competing. It has some interesting learnings for some of the societal problems we face today.

The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of Edgar, Dunn & Company. The information and views expressed in this publication belong solely to the author(s).

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