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42 Justin Brownhill and Nicolas Perkin

Receivables Exchange

Since going live in 2008, Receivables Exchange has proved a classic example of financial technology entrepreneurship. It introduced electronic trading to a market in need of efficiency and transparency — in this case, business receivables. By the numbers, it’s a roaring success: Trading volume increased 466 percent last year as more than 1,400 small and midsize businesses had signed on to raise working capital by auctioning accounts receivable to institutional investors. So one piece of advice from the New Orleans–based company’s 40-year-old president, Nicolas Perkin, may sound a bit odd: “Don’t overautomate.” Automating too much too soon can result in “not knowing the right processes,” he explains. “Over time you can always automate more.” Perkin says he and co-founder Justin Brownhill, 40, who together brought fixed-income and equity system backgrounds into the venture, “got a lot of things pretty much right” as measured by market feedback. Still, Receivables Exchange “has hardly scratched the surface” of a market potential of $17 trillion, with millions of sellers, says Perkin. Over the past year it has begun to bring Fortune 500 companies into the mix.