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Above & Beyond Talent Acquisition

Above and Beyond Talent Acquisition, Inc. is a full-service staffing firm based in New York City. A&B Talent Acquisition Inc, provides services such as contingent staff, full-time staff, and executive search.

A&B Website Video Link Rounded

Tell me a bit about Above & Beyond Talent Acquisition, Inc. When was it founded? What is the story behind its inception?

Above and Beyond Talent Acquisition, Inc. is a full-service staffing firm based in New York City. A&B Talent provide services such as contingent staff, full-time staff, and executive search. I decided to start the business back in late 2018 and since have been able to grow the business by 1000% annually through 2022.

I decided to start the business after 22 years working for a Wall Street based staffing firm in which I was able to lead the charge in growing that business from a $6 million a year business to over $130 million per year.

After receiving little to no recognition for my efforts and production, I finally decided to leave and do what I did for them, but for myself – hence the birth of A&B Talent. I’m looking forward to continued success.


How has your work/business changed as a result of COVID-19?

COVID-19 had a profound impact on every business on a global basis – some good, some bad. Fortunately, for small business owners and entrepreneurs like myself, the outcomes from the pandemic were more good than bad.

For instance, it was a time when all companies, big or small, were forced to adapt to a 100% remote workforce. This transition saved small business owners time and money because they didn’t have to search for or pay for an office.

Additionally, with more workplaces going online, the talent pool became exponentially larger. Geography and proximity to a workplace were no longer a factor in the hiring process.

With no geographical boundaries, the world was our oyster. A&B Talent was able to find various pearls throughout the world and create a highly talented internal workforce. A workforce that has produced above and beyond anything that I could have imagined.

In fact, after spending more than 30 years working in an office, I meet with my team directly in its entirety more frequently on a weekly basis than I ever did pre-pandemic. I think ultimately as sure as tragic as COVID-19 was, the outcome will benefit small businesses for years to come.


As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

The short answer? Everything. The longer, more concentrated answer is primarily delivery of service to our clients and to meet their expectations. As an individual who's running your own business, when just getting started you will work 24 hours a day. You will travel thousands of miles a week. You will do everything from the admin function, to the accounting function, to the reception function, to anything else involved in making sure that you are delivering and exceeding what you promised.

Though it's inevitable as your company grows, you will have to hire others to delegate these responsibilities. It is your hope that they will deliver in the manner in which you've delivered, but you have little control over how they actually do things or when they actually do them. While this can be a point of contention and concern for me, my best advice is to have confidence in your screening and hiring process. With the right process in place, you can rest assured they will deliver.

Another thing that is stressful for a business owner is access to capital. In a case like mine, A&B Talent has grown exponentially over the past few years – and in that growth, there is a requirement for capital. But while necessary to grow, access to capital can be very limited. It is something that keeps me up at night, wondering how I'm going to pay this invoice that's due in two days when my client's next invoice to me isn't due for two weeks.


Are late payments a point of stress/anxiety for you? How have late payments impacted your business and its cash flow? 

Late payments have been the biggest challenge that A&B Talent has ever faced. A&B Talent saw a tremendous amount of growth in a very short period of time. And within that tremendous amount of growth came a tremendous amount of added responsibility, staff, vendors, and resources – all of which have additional fixed costs that cannot be put off. To cover these costs, A&B Talent heavily relies on payment from our client invoices. If those invoices are paid late, it sets off a chain reaction of bad events. If those invoices aren’t being paid at all, they’re meaningless.

In the recent past, it got to a point where A&B Talent was in danger of failing as a business simply because our company could not maintain a positive cash flow due to the late payments from our clients. In fact, our little access to capital caused us to reach out and entertain offers from predatory lenders. However, after looking in-depth at their terms, it was not the right decision to make. Thankfully, A&B Talent did not go this route, but I can see where other companies have no choice. It’s safe to say late payments are one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses. 


What methods have you tried to get people to pay on time/ recoup outstanding debt?

Very, very careful methods. As any small business owner would tell you, your clients are your lifeline. Therefore, you cannot bombard them with demands for payment, despite you providing a service and them owing money. There's a limit as to how often and how aggressively you can request payment against their outstanding invoices.

Some of the methods my business has used have been to simply reach out to our original point of contact. My team has asked if they can connect us with the Head of Finance, Head of Procurement, or someone who has access and the ability to facilitate payment. It’s been a challenge and it takes time, but I've found that continued follow-up in a very diplomatic way has been successful.

For example, A and B Talent had invoices that were set to pay in 30 days that ultimately took upwards of 180 days to pay. That was only after multiple efforts and follow-ups. I would be hesitant to really be any more aggressive than that just because again, these clients, as a small business, are our lifeline.


Have you previously used traditional lending/credit products from banks? What was your experience like? 

I have traditionally used and currently use a multitude of products from traditional banks such as mortgages, car loans, and lines of credit. With traditional banks, the process is a nightmare. I understand their need to mitigate risk, but the requirements needed for a moderate loan or line of credit are just absolutely tremendous. From the documentation, to the signatures, to the contracts – the process in my experience, regardless of if it's a loan or a line of credit, takes months.

When it comes to business, I've tried to get business loans to try to get lines of credit. The process is once you supply them with the 500 documents they ask for, they come back and ask for 300 more. It's an ongoing process. But for the sake of small businesses, when you're growing you often need that money and capital instantly. You need that money to pay the bills that are due in 24 hours and days to come. You also need that money to scale up.

I think my biggest frustration with the big banks is when I have applied for loans that would help me grow my company and meet their demands, their offer comes back with only 10% to 20% of what my requested amount was. It’s helpful, but not enough. 


How were you introduced to Crowdz?      

I was introduced to Crowdz by an online forum of which I'm a member. I came across a thread about financing, and one person on that thread mentioned a Crowdz program through Meta Invoice Fast Track for minority-owned businesses.

I clicked on the link and read more about the program. My initial thought was that it was too good to be true, but I went ahead and filled out the application anyway. I spent 20 minutes completing an application and received an offer in no time. Better yet, the offer was well above and beyond anything I ever expected and stated that it could be funded in 24 hours.

Again, I thought it was too good to be true. I sat on it for about three weeks because I was reluctant until I reached a point of no return and finally decided to do it. Lo and behold the funds were deposited as promised and A&B Talent was able to carry on with the business. I am incredibly thankful because it's been life-changing and honestly I'd venture to say business saving. 


What challenges were you facing and how is Crowdz helping you solve those cash flow issues?

This is actually an easy question because not only have I answered it several times in the past, but it's something that I enjoy discussing.

I was facing challenges in the area of access to capital. So, I met with the heads of my traditional bank, which I've banked with for over 30 years. Regardless of having excellent personal credit, provable exponential growth within the company, and everything necessary to get a loan, the money being offered was not helpful.

Crowdz stepped in and not only purchased invoices at a ridiculously low rate but delivered the capital within hours. The experience has been fantastic and the helpfulness is insurmountable. 

I've definitely told plenty of people about this, but this Crowdz program has literally saved my business. I feel as though they've given us an opportunity to really grow and expand the way every small business wants to. I cannot overstate how much Crowdz has helped me to be able to stay current on all of my fiscal responsibilities to my vendors while waiting for invoices from my clients.


Ballpark figures - How many invoices have you financed and to what amount? What were the payment terms you were waiting on from your customers?

In a ballpark range, A&B Talent have sent hundreds of invoices to the Crowdz platform, totaling millions of dollars. Today, our company has probably received close to $2 million if not a little over $2 million from Crowdz.

Our payment terms against those invoices were set at anywhere from 45 to 90 to 100 days. Crowdz funded those invoices in less than 24 hours. Again, the Crowdz methodology, process, and effectiveness are something that I’m so appreciative of. I’m thankful that I was introduced to the platform and very happy to be a part of it. The amount of money and provided access to capital against our invoices has saved our business.


How would you describe your experience using the Crowdz platform to trade your invoices?

The Crowdz platform offers an easy setup and remains to be very simple and straightforward. The application process is a breeze, especially if you have your documentation on hand. It took me 20 minutes to complete and felt as if I was approved instantly.

The platform is intuitive. My team was able to get through it with no problem. If A&B Talent ever did meet any kind of issue, the Crowdz support team jumped in and resolved it quickly. But, to date, I have not experienced any impactful issues with using the Crowdz platform, which I’m very appreciative of.


What other alternative funding sources have you utilized and how does Crowdz compare?

I have applied for loans (which are still in the application process, even after months from when I originally applied 🙄) and I currently use two separate lines of credit. The lines of credit took months of supplying document, after document, after document. Even more frustrating, the amount that was offered in the lines of credit A&B Talent currently is a fraction of what’s available to us through Crowdz.

Additionally, what A&B Talent has been able to do with Crowdz was expeditious. The amounts offered are exponential when compared to the money made available to us through the lines of credit. Through Crowdz the costs remain to be the most competitive I've ever seen in any kind of business loan, line of credit, or invoice purchase offer. The Crowdz platform is absolutely my preferred vehicle in which to access capital for my business.


How did you use this tool? 

By reducing the payment terms on our invoices, A&B Talent was provided with additional access to capital in a very short period of time. A&B Talent has since leveraged it to maintain consistency in paying our vendors and our employees. While our company was never late on payments before Crowdz, it was becoming harder to do. The number of invoices A&B Talent needed to pay was growing all while our clients were not paying us on time.  

Crowdz helped alleviate those concerns and issues, allowing us to grow the business. For example, A&B Talent increased our internal staff and have been able to take on more business because we have more working capital. Before Crowdz, our company saw slower growth to a point because A&B Talent was growing too fast and didn’t have the capital to fund the new growth.

I’m currently smiling because yesterday, our team had a very positive day. A&B Talent was able to take on new business because we have the capital to fund and leverage in multiple ways.


What are the biggest challenges for small businesses that potentially prevent them from growing/succeeding?

The two biggest challenges that prevent small businesses from growing are (1) competing with larger, tenured businesses and (2) access to capital.

To my first point, as a small business, you’re going to compete against larger corporations that have entire back offices that focus on specific processes. Simply put, they can deliver more because they are equipped to do so. This will be especially apparent when you’re bidding on a project and it requires you to fill out an extensive RFP. 

Larger companies have access to capital that allows them to take on new business because they can hire new staff to support that new business. Even if they don’t have the capital, because they’re a big business, they have a track record where banks are more willing to provide $2, $5, or $10 million loans.

This leads me to the second biggest challenge of owning a small business, access to capital. A&B Talent doesn’t have that same luxury. As a small business owner, if I go to the bank and say “I need $2,000,000 to take on this new challenge and grow my business,” the bank will say “Okay, we can give you $100,000.”

It takes money to make money. But if a small business doesn’t have access to capital or the privilege of getting million-dollar loans, then the ability to take on large opportunities is not possible.


What advice do you have for small businesses that are on the fence about using the program?

If you are a small business on the fence about using this Crowdz program, my advice is to use it. I wholeheartedly endorse it. I am a current user, but I was a skeptic initially because it truly seemed too good to be true. Usually, when something is too good to be true, it turns out not to be true. This was not the case with this program.

I did as much research as I possibly could and I consulted with multiple people, but once I finally did decide to use the Crowdz program, I have not looked back. Comparatively speaking, the rates are lower than any other product I've ever seen, including things outside of business needs like car loans, mortgages, and student loans. The rates being incredibly low is probably why it seemed too good to be true.

There is very little impact on your business. It is far better than working with predatory lenders that charge upwards of 18%. I would not hesitate at all to jump in headfirst. The capital is real and available.  


Anything else to add?

The Crowdz program is unlike any kind of program that I have been looking for as a minority-owned business. There are tons of companies and programs out there that make false claims and say they support minority-owned businesses through loans and grants. 

Trust me, I have researched as many as I possibly could and still do. I’ve had conversations with the heads of executives at traditional banks and other programs. But, 99% do not help in an impactfully meaningful way. It’s just gestures.

Crowdz is the only solution that states that they’re going to help minority-owned businesses, and actually does it in a meaningful way. I'll stand by that statement any day of the week. I have not seen another program that is as helpful and meaningfully impactful as Crowdz, especially at a time when my business was in dire need of saving.



Keith Harper, Founder & CEO at Above & Beyond Talent Acquisition Inc. - October 8, 2022


About A&B Talent Acquisition

   New York City, United States

   Founded 2018

   ~$2,000,000 Invoices Funded



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