Meet the team - Simon Bocca, Founder and CEO of PayCaptain

Meet the team - Simon Bocca, Founder and CEO of PayCaptain
Meet the team - Simon Bocca, Founder and CEO of PayCaptainMeet the team - Simon Bocca, Founder and CEO of PayCaptain

PayCaptain was founded by Simon Bocca with the vision to transform the way people are paid in the UK.  Simon believes the process of paying people for the work they do should be quicker, easier and fit for the way people want to run their lives.

Prior to PayCaptain, Simon was Chief Operating Officer at Fourth – a global SAAS business, specialising in workforce management and payroll for the UK hospitality industry. Simon’s 16-year tenure at Fourth equipped him with the knowledge and skills to scale a business from loss-making in 2004, to a profitable £120 million revenue business in 2019.

During his time at Fourth, the company made six acquisitions and had 1,500 customers operating in 60 countries. Simon was responsible for sales, marketing, professional services, customer success and payroll operations.

Why did you create PayCaptain as a solution?

After working in a large business for so many years, I wanted to be entrepreneurial again and to create a SAAS HR/payroll solution completely from scratch.

My ambition was to make payroll easier for employers, but I also wanted to create a solution that really improves employees’ financial well-being.

A recent study found that over 20 million adults in the UK don’t feel confident managing their money. Over 11 million adults have less than £100 in savings and nearly 9 million people are in serious debt.

I wanted to make the experience of getting paid better but also to provide tools and support to improve the financial well-being of those people who are struggling with their finances. I also wanted to offer a solution that gives employees more flexibility and control over their pay.

When did you launch PayCaptain?

I started writing the plan and building the solution in January 2020, just a month or so before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic reached the UK!

PayCaptain is built on the Salesforce platform and I’d been using that since 2004, so I’m very familiar with the platform. I know it’s enormous strength in areas such as security, automation and user experience.

Using Salesforce as a platform allowed us to build the solution quite quickly and we started beta-testing in July 2020. Our first paying customers came on board in April 2021.

We’ve scaled the business steadily. We take on only a handful of customers every other month, so they're successfully onboarded and their transition to PayCaptain is brilliantly supported by our team.

We continue to innovate with new functionality and more automation, so that PayCaptain can continue to grow and offer more and more benefits to employees and employers.  

What were the challenges of launching the business in a pandemic?

I think the biggest challenge was our inability to go out and meet with customers because we were all social-distancing and couldn’t have in-person meetings! While Zoom is great, there’s nothing like getting in a meeting room with prospective clients and really getting to know them and understanding their pain points and how we can help them.

I know each member of our team really well, so we didn’t have problems with communication or the fact that we had to work remotely – luckily!

What’s PayCaptain’s aim?

Our aim is simple – we want to transform the payroll process – both for employers and employees. It’s a process that every company has to go through, and for many companies, it’s quite tedious! Simply put, I want to make the ‘transaction’ of getting paid a really positive experience - for both employees and employers.

What are the benefits of PayCaptain over other Payroll solutions?

We have some really innovative functionality, designed around our desire to improve employees’ financial health. PayCaptain is an app that lets employees control their money - setup and send money to savings accounts, draw on emergency funding if needed, split payments direct from net pay so an important bill or financial commitment is never missed, for example.

The app also delivers advice and support through our partners at Money & Pensions Service, so employees who are struggling with their finances can get help and advice. We offer sustainable pensions through the app as well as Payroll Giving and donating Pennies from Pay. There’s a whole host of other functionality and we’re continually innovating and automating the solution to keep it at the forefront of payroll technology.

What are your future aspirations for PayCaptain?

I want us to continue to innovate and release new functionality to continually improve the service for our clients and their employees.

Why did you decide to become B-Corporation certified?

What was really important for me, from the very beginning, was to establish the business on a really solid foundation. I wanted PayCaptain to be a force for good and operate as good as it possibly could be, from every angle.

From day one we used the B-Corporation framework as our guiderail for being the best company we can be. We’re dedicated to creating positive experiences for our own employees as well as those of our clients. We were awarded full B-Corporation certification in April 2022 and we’re the first payroll company in the world to be certified.

B-Corporation certification was, and is, important to us. But this isn’t the only part of our solid foundation. PayCaptain is ISO27001 certified, we’re HMRC accredited and we’re registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) – all really important things for me from the outset. I wanted to start as I mean to go on and by doing this early, we’ve been able to do this.

What does it mean for the company to be a B-Corporation?

When setting up PayCaptain, it was critical that the business was set up to align with my own personal values. Whilst being profitable is an important factor, there’s so much more we can do.  We’re in the middle of a climate and social crisis that everyone has a responsibility to address. By becoming a B-Corp, we nailed our colours to the mast to demonstrate our commitment to a better future.

How big is your team?

We’re a team of eight and recruiting three more people now.  At the time of writing, the team has a combined 157 years of payroll experience!

Do you work remotely or in an office?

We work remotely but talk together every morning.   We also get together as a team once a quarter for a two-day retreat to do strategic stuff and have some fun together.

Working remotely was forced upon us by the pandemic. Initially I’d wanted to be office-based, but I’ve recruited based on skillsets and expertise. We’ve got some amazing people in our team and they’re based all over the world, so it’s not really practical to be office-based.

I’d rather have the brilliant people in the team rather than people locally who may not have as much knowledge and ability! Despite 100% remote-working, our team is really close-knit and we’re all very supportive of one another.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I was on track to be a pilot in the RAF, but my eyesight deteriorated suddenly in my late teens, so I was forced to change my plans (quite significantly)!

What was your first job, and for who, when you left school?

I worked for the Savoy Group of Hotels in London. I did a five-year management training programme, working in all departments. Whilst on the programme I discovered my passion for technology, so once I’d finished my training, I moved into the IT department and managed multiple systems for the group’s hotels and restaurants.

What is the proudest moment in your career?

I’m most proud of launching PayCaptain from scratch and creating a company that reflects my own personal values. I’m also incredibly proud of the team and the difference PayCaptain is making to both employees and employers in the business-critical task of paying employees.

Further back in my career, I feel extremely proud of what we achieved at Fourth, growing it from a tiny team of five to a global technology superstar. I learned a great deal about operating a software-as-a-service company through all the stages of growth.

To learn more about how PayCaptain can help your business and improve the financial well-being of your employees, please contact us for an informal, no-obligation chat. We’ll be happy to demo PayCaptain for you.