Leaf adds new COO, continues rapid hiring push

Sarah McCray headshot_small

Cambridge-based Leaf is making some noise today, announcing a few new additions to its leadership team.

The company, which built a mobile payment platform for small business, added Sarah McCrary as its new chief operating officer. Additionally, Leaf added Dan Smith as its vice president of engineering and Chad Kelly as its new vice president of finance.

Since the company raised $20 million from Heartland Payment Systems this past fall, they have been scaling rapidly. It’s no secret that Leaf may be one of the most active companies hiring new employees since the new funding; almost every local job board is filled with postings from Leaf looking for software engineers, product managers, and more.

In fact, the company has stated that they are looking to double in size in 2014.

Too big for its former home, Intrepid Labs, Leaf recently moved to a 15,000 square foot office in the Athenaeum building in the Kendall Square area. With the recent additions and more new hires expected soon, the company may get too big for its new space rather quickly as well.

McCrary, who most recently served as Strategic Planning Director for Heartland, worked intimately with Leaf’s leadership after Heartland’s investment. At Heartland, she coordinated with the company’s senior executives and partners on strategic initiatives and co-invented Heartland’s E3 encryption technology.

As its new chief operating officer, Leaf expects McCrary to add her knowledge of and experience with payment technology, and hope to add to the development of Leaf’s innovative platform.

“The team’s done an excellent job developing its vision and product roadmap toward an open and easy-to-use platform that will become the business owner’s best friend,” McCrary said in a statment. “[They have] really put the company in a unique position to challenge the way business operators think about the tools they use to run their business.”

“It’s an exciting time to join the team to help bring the company to the next level,” McCrary added.

Kelly, who will be the new vice president of finance, comes to Leaf after working at Verivo Software. New vice president of engineering Smith  was most recently the president and chief technology officer of Locally Co., before that, he was the chief executive of go2.com.

Chief executive Aron Schwarzkopf often says that Leaf is trying to become “the best friend to small business.”

The company has already grown quickly and found success with its point of sales offerings. Yet, even with the investment from Heartland and the new hires, Leaf has a long way to go to win the hearts and minds of small business owner in a mobile payment space that is becoming more crowded every day.

Although the company is at its core a payment platform, Leaf has taken a big bet on its mobile payment hardware, including LeafPresenter, a tablet designed for small businesses.

With companies like Square, LevelUp, as well as many of  credit card companies looking to dominate the market for mobile “point of sales” products, Leaf has some hefty competition.

When I asked Schwarzkopf about the company’s focus on its POS system tablet, he said that having a device connected to all of Leaf’s other point of sales services is a huge differentiator in the mobile sales industry.

As of yet, I have not seen many Leaf tablets being used by merchants in Boston. The only one that I did see was at Voltage, a coffee shop within walking distance of both Leaf’s old and new headquarters. However, the shop no longer uses Leaf’s POS system (it does still accept payments from LevelUp, however).

We could not find any specific numbers on how many of its devices are being deployed by small businesses, but were told that Heartland is pushing the company’s hardware and services throughout the nation.

Another interesting local connection to Heartland involves the company’s relationship with LevelUp. Early last year, LevelUp and Heartland partnered up so that Heartland would distribute LevelUp’s payment system through its sales team. As Heartland seems to have more of interest in the success of Leaf’s POS offerings, we wondered how they were handling the two local companies different products. We are still waiting on a response from Heartland’s PR firm.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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