Matt Hyman says he has an edge over other technology entrepreneurs: There’s two of him.
He and his identical-twin brother Zach have been in business together since they were kids. At the age of 12, they sold caramel-nut clusters and peanut brittle door to door. Their partnership continues today with the debut of SpotOn, a customer-loyalty service for restaurants and stores. Businesses that sign up can get a Samsung tablet running software that awards customers points for visiting.
“One of the huge challenges is to find someone you can partner with, that you’re 110 percent sure you can trust, that will work as hard as you, manage the business like you will, and not have any types of disputes with down the road,” said Zach, now 35. “We’re able to work together. Our vision is identical. We think alike. Our goals are aligned.”
Matt added, “It does give us an advantage over other entrepreneurs.”
While they hire staff for SpotOn, they will continue to work as co-managing directors at a company they founded in 2005 called Central Payment, which processes more than $3.5 billion in credit card sales annually. TSYS, another transaction-services provider, acquired a 60 percent stake in their company last week, according to Cyle Mims, a spokesman for TSYS who declined to disclose the deal’s price.
The Hymans, who both live in Belvedere, California, have been working together on technology companies much longer than those other lookalikes, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who sued Facebook and became famous in 2010 after the debut of “The Social Network.” About a decade before that movie came out, the Hymans started CardPayment Solutions in Santa Barbara, California, and sold it to IPayment three years later for $15 million, according to a public filing.
Their latest company is based in San Rafael, California, where the Hymans attended high school. This time, they brought on a third founder, Doron Friedman, who runs the technology operations from Chicago. He provides them with a much-needed technical perspective, which is largely outside of the Hymans’ sales expertise, Matt said.
Some venture capitalists argue there’s also a potential downside to partnering with your brother, as familial ties can add complications to the already heavy burden one carries when running a startup.
To that, Matt could say: He ain’t heavy, he’s my co-founder.