How ClassBento scaled their business overseas during a global pandemic

4 minutes
Customer storiesBusiness tips
How ClassBento scaled their business overseas during a global pandemic
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The ClassBento platform was born to give users a taste of different creative outlets. It was designed as a way to encourage people to unplug, de-stress and help fight burnout in a hyperconnected world. But as the platform grew quickly, they realised their financial processes weren’t built to scale into international markets. ClassBento sought a next-generation solution that could help them move fast and cash in on the demand.

Connecting skills, creating opportunities

ClassBento was co-founded by friends John and Iain. Both working in high-pressure eCommerce roles, they found a creative and mindful outlet in taking craft lessons. But classes and teachers were difficult to find. Most teachers weren’t marketers, which meant they lacked the skills to promote their services and lessons.

John and Iain saw the potential as the marketplace for these services was growing. They could help make these classes more marketable, more accessible (who’s free to take a woodworking class at 2pm on a Tuesday?), and as a way to create connections and opportunities for people looking to learn new skills.

The name was inspired by the idea of a Japanese bento: a lunch box containing a taste of different things, many you may discover for the first time. ClassBento also honoured their very first service provider, a Japanese ikebana teacher who truly embodied the philosophy of the platform.

ClassBento enjoyed its own journey of discovery

The platform resonated with a lot of people, and ClassBento grew steadily, delivering around 4,000 in-person experiences.

And then COVID-19 hit.

Snap lockdowns meant they had to pivot quickly and move their classes online. ClassBento created special kits for teachers with the necessary gear and teaching aids.

But this hasn’t stopped the team. They quickly expanded from a small Aussie platform, to a global business launching into the UK in just a few months. Now they’ve got their sights set on the US.

Airwallex empowered ClassBento to take control of their banking

In the beginning, ClassBento was managing a lot of small payments, all across different platforms. But with so many users and teachers involved, they needed comprehensive automation, otherwise the system would fall apart. There had to be a better way.

When they came across Airwallex, they discovered that our mass payouts infrastructure could enable streamlined payout methods for their online marketplace. By leveraging our unique API capabilities, ClassBento could take the shortcut to deliver large-scale, global payouts. They knew it would give their community of teachers greater flexibility and control—and their business a strategic advantage and market share in other countries.

After a speedy implementation they had Airwallex up and running in less than a week.

Automating their processes and payments meant they could scale internationally, pay their global teachers with a range of international currencies in an automated, cost-effective way. The ability to create virtual debit cards also simplified expense management for their growing global team, while empowering their employees to manage their own budgets.

ClassBento was going from strength to strength.

“As we expanded to different countries, then Airwallex became even more useful. [Airwallex] helped us have financial presence across all these countries, very easily. The ability to create credit cards on the fly to manage employee spend is also super helpful.” — Iain Wang, Co-Founder at ClassBento

Accessing a corporate market for even greater growth

Once ClassBento made the switch to Airwallex, they started generating interest from corporate clients. These businesses now had a pathway to pay via bank transfer rather than credit card to match their internal accounts payable processes and eliminate the additional 2 - 3% international card payment fees.

What’s ahead for ClassBento

COVID-19 brought a once-in-a-lifetime shift to global ways of working. And through some quick thinking and careful pivoting, it actually helped ClassBento grow, allowing them to further their service offering.

And they’re not slowing down any time soon. As restrictions ease all over the world, they’re going from strength to strength—continuing to expand into the US with both in-person and online classes.

Their next steps are to look at ways to branch out from the marketplace side of things and build booking software that enables teachers to manage their workshops, classes and student bookings much more effectively.

Airwallex will be right there with them when they do.

“[Airwallex] solves a lot of really important issues for ClassBento. You help us to improve efficiency… you enable things for us that we otherwise might not be able to do, to be honest,” says Ian.

“I can see that [Airwallex is] still kind of like a startup at heart... You’re still moving very quickly, adding lots of functionality over time—and that gives me confidence that [Airwallex] will be a partner that we can use in the long term, because you guys will be at the forefront of finance tech. To be a partner as we also grow globally.”

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