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Streamlining Electronic Payments, With Inspire Commerce’s Mark Fischer


Article originally published September 27, 2012 on


If you’re an e-commerce software developer, how do you connect your systems into credit card and other electronic payment services? Right now, every payment provider provides its own proprietary interfaces and software, and moving between those providers is a huge amount of work and hassle. How do you make that easier? Boulder-based Inspire Commerce ( is looking to solve that issue with its services. The company recently raised a $500,000 seed funding from merchant services provider Axia and the Story Stock Exchange venture fund. We spoke with Mark Fisher, CEO of the company, to learn more about the service.

What is Inspire Commerce?

Mark Fischer: We’ve been involved in the e-commerce space, as a group and as individuals for the past twelve years. For the past five years, we’ve been focused on financial transaction technology and credit processing. What we’ve seen in the last two to three years, is that this marketplace is absolutely broken. Give our background in development, marketing, and online, we felt we were the best people to solve the problem.

Who cares most about this problem?

Mark Fischer: Pretty much any developer spent building applications understands that, by the time you’ve coded to PayPal, and your business starts to grow, and the owner says–I want to connect this to a merchant account–it becomes a massive pain. In order to talk to a provider, you’ve got to code to individual providers. If you want to add something like Dwolla, that’s another development push. We’ve simplified that by creating a platform, where anyone can work with us once, and then just turn on Dwolla, and it will show up in their app and on your payment page. It’s really about solving the pain, which we’re really excited about solving.

What’s your background?

Mark Fischer: Inspire Commerce came out of my background. I was an entrepreneur working on branding, messaging, internet strategy, and worked with companies like baby carrier company Boba, Sabrix, and a whole list of other companies. A great example is ERGObaby, which was started by a friend of mine who was selling baby carriers from her house. We helped her with online commerce and her brand, and it ended up as a $91 million exit in 2010.

How was your experience with AngelList–did you raise the seed funding from there?

Mark Fischer: We didn’t primarily raise through AngelList, but it’s a great resource if you have connections. For us, we mostly used it to do communications, and drove connections there to our profile, which helped a lot. We used it for investors and to expose the technology to them.

What’s your vision for the consumer site?

Mark Fischer: We launched a website last year called InspirePay. That’s definitely a consumer facing product. It addresses a huge need in industry. It allows anyone to get paid. Our adoption has been typically been from users like attorneys, consultants, designers, and developer who need to get paid a random dollar amount. It’s usually tied to an invoice. It’s a simple way to go online and specify how much you want to be paid, and request money from a single location. You wouldn’t think it would be a problem, but it is. Most proprietary services require you to go into the system to generate that money request. If you’re using PayPal, the invoice comes from PayPal, the links come from PayPal. At no time do they see your face, or do you get a choice to pay using another method. That site has been a huge success, and has been growing 25 percent month over month in terms of user adoption.

What are you doing with your recent round, and what are you working on next?

Mark Fischer: We’re currently working on making available our own payment methods within InspirePay, and also let you turn on your own instant merchant account. That should be available in early Q4. Right now, we’re completing our PCI Level 1 compliance in the next week and a half, which is a really big deal in our industry. It’s the highest level of security possible for an application. We’re also putting a significant amount of time into simplifying our user experience and  payment pages. We’re really focused on InspirePay for our development push, because all of InspirePay is built on our larger platform. It’s all focused on simplifying payments, and that gives us a place to field test it before exposing it to other developers.