Tech at Heart: How Mollie Scaled from Bootstrap to Highly-Valued Scale-Up

Mollie is a Binx customer_logo

How a Unique Platform Provides Competitive Edge

If you’ve purchased anything online in the Netherlands or Belgium in the past few years, you’ve probably been exposed to Mollie — the pioneering Amsterdam-based startup that’s disrupting the payment industry. The company provides website owners with an easy-to-implement method for integrating payments into an app or a website. Founded by Adriaan Mol in 2004, its backend was built by the then 18-year-old Dutch tech entrepreneur while he was still living in his parent’s basement. Today, Mollie is one of Europe’s fastest-growing payment service providers (PSP), processing some €20 billion in payments in 2021 (up 100% in a year) and adding around 450 new customers each day.

More than 120,000 merchants actively use Mollie monthly, including Deliveroo, Unicef, Acer, and Guess. And recently, a round of massive funding catapulted the originally bootstrapped company into being one of Europe’s most valuable startups. So, what’s at the heart of Mollie’s fast track to success? You guessed it, tech. 

Providing a Seamless Experience

Mollie uses advanced technology to power its website and maintain an edge over its competition. Its unique platform uses intellectual property secured with a registered trademark so none of Mollie’s competitors can use the same, or even similar, technology. On top of that, Mollie’s website actively uses 59 different technologies that work behind the scenes to provide a seamless experience for its users. These are distributed over 35 different tech-related products and services, including jQuery, Google Cloud, Google Analytics, HTML5, iPhone Mobile Compatible, Google Font API, Viewport Meta, and more.

“Mollie is driven by technology, data, and the cloud,” said its chief technology officer, Marco dos Santos, “For me, that means the technology needs to be present throughout the business.”

Data-Driven and Cloud-Native

According to Dos Santos, Binx and GoDataDriven are at the heart of that business, having helped Mollie kick-start its data-driven and cloud-native journey, long before he joined the company.

“When we started, we didn’t really have much knowledge about what it takes to run and build services in the cloud, so that knowledge and infusion of knowledge and that aspect of training really helped us get going,” said Dos Santos, “It’s clear that Binx and GoDataDriven continue to bring the expertise that we don’t have here, especially in our transformation, migration and build phases, and in doing so, add value.”

Previously, all of Mollie’s application infrastructure was hosted on dedicated servers, running its PHP applications and MySQL database on virtual machines. If an error occurred, it could lead to slower transaction times until the technical team time had detected, located, and corrected the problem. To eliminate as many manual processes and associated errors as possible, Mollie decided to migrate its application infrastructure to Google Cloud. 

Building More Reliable Products

The cloud offered Mollie a better platform so it could offer better products to its merchants in a more reliable way. Plus, the multi-zone, multi-region accessibility meant Mollie also had more options for its operations. Since Google Cloud was a reliable provider, the company could build more reliable products.

“Google and Mollie have common goals in terms of providing vendors with the tools to build their brand online,” explained Dos Santos.

But there was another reason why Mollie chose Google Cloud over another cloud service provider. According to Binx, Google Cloud was a better fit for Mollie because the company already had a strong internal engineering culture.

“We were able to create an infrastructure design pattern so Mollie’s developers would have everything they needed to deploy a web application with database content using Google Kubernetes Engine,” explained Bart Verlaat, Binx CEO and co-founder. 

After initially taking a lift-and-shift approach, Binx helped Mollie reconfigure its applications and create a cloud-native stack that could deliver the low latency response times required. 

“We still have a big chunk of our services running on-prem, but we believe the future is cloud,” explained Dos Santos. “What’s most important is that the cloud expedites our time-to-market for new features and new products. Our ability to ship a new service should be measured in minutes, not in days. So that’s where we see the cloud playing a key role in our growth journey. Accelerate it, ship faster, innovate faster, broader ownership, and add the self-service idea of the cloud,” he said.

The Importance of Data

Binx and GoDataDriven’s vast experience of working directly with banks, like ING and ABN Amro, also provided a template for Mollie to emulate, according to the CTO.

“It gave us a bit more understanding of how to run and scale, and what technologies to use,” said Dos Santos.

Both companies also helped the people at Mollie accelerate their skills, empowering them to build innovative products, identify and resolve technical challenges, and contribute to achieving the company’s long-term ambition — to grow from a payment service into a financial services provider and expand across Europe.  

“When you’re small, you’re just basically trying to get that product-market fit,” said Dos Santos. “But as we grow (and we already have over 100,000 customers), every change we make has an impact that can be a positive impact. And it could be a tremendous impact, but we need to be able to know what that is — so that’s the importance of data in our business.”

With the help of GDD, Mollie is developing its data capabilities, shifting from reporting to predictive analytics to improve the way data is ingested, stored, and consumed. While data is being applied more broadly throughout the organization, the data platform will become more important to facilitate automated decision-making like risk management and automating manual processes. 

“GoData Driven understands customer problems and helps organizations like ours optimize by using data as an extra tool in the toolbox,” the CTO explained. “Data-based decision-making and building data-related products all rely on a reliable data lake. GoDataDriven is really helping us to get that data lake and that data infrastructure to the next level, bringing more of a mindset of experimentation, and connecting cause and effect and impact to the changes we make,” said Dos Santos.

Mollie is already using data for risk assessments and some automation and now has big plans to collaborate with GDD to create an infrastructure for production models and to ship models to production.

“Our ambition is, of course, to expand in Europe. Because we believe we have a great product that really satisfies the needs of customers across the European market. It’s definitely a journey. We’re not there yet, but we’re leading by example. And GoDataDriven and Binx are both crucial elements of our team.” 

For more related content, read more about the collaboration between Mollie and Google Cloud and the interview between Renald Buter from GoDataDriven and Marco dos Santos, CTO at Mollie, about the role of cloud and data in the process of scaling up the organization.