When electronic transfer company Infintech opened its doors in 2005, its executives weren't sure if those doors might be slammed back in their faces.

Five years later, the entrepreneurial brainchild of former Fifth Third Bank employees is branching out and solidifying its place as a local business success story. With new innovations, philanthropic leanings and dedication to the Tristate's growth, it's no wonder the region (and increasingly, the country) has greeted Infintech with open arms.

A Leap of Faith

Starting a new company meant a loss of security for Ryan Rybolt and Tom DeBord. After Rybolt's three years and DeBord's 19 at Fifth Third, blazing a trail too quickly could have burnt them out.

Both in the processing division of the company, Rybolt and DeBord saw an opening in the marketplace. Fifth Third had recently opted to sell its small-merchant processing business in order to focus on larger clients, leaving a void in its wake.

The timing could not have been better.

"The market was right, where we could go out and cater to the small- and medium-size business owners, so we collectively made the decision to take the leap of faith together to go on our own," Rybolt says. "We saw that if we could position our products and services right, that there was a great opportunity in the market."

So Infintech (Innovative Financial Technologies) was born. The company contracts with merchants (often through smaller banks) to process credit card payments, which can rack up huge transaction fees when customers purchase with credit cards.

If someone pays with a credit card, Infintech makes sure that that authorization turns into a deposit into the business owner's bank account. Other companies offer similar services, but what differentiates them is the pricing and how they qualify transactions from the network. In the end, it delivers a lower cost to the merchant.

"We treat the small merchant much like the Fifth Thirds of the world treat the very, very large, national merchant," DeBord says. "Well our philosophy is, let's give that small merchant that same treatment, whether it be from the pricing management perspective (what the costs are from credit card companies) all the way down to just picking up the phone when they call."

Rybolt took on the position of President/COO, focusing on business development and gaining a presence in the market. DeBord became CEO, dealing with the business's day-to-day operations. Finding themselves in need of a sales manager and marketer, they brought on Joff Moine as an EVP just a few months later.

"We started from scratch, with an empty office building that had nothing in it," DeBord recalls. "All the things you kind of took for granted, from how you pay someone to wiring the office so the phone systems worked, we did every bit of that. We were down there the first month pulling wire into the office with this vision of how many people we were ultimately going to have and where to put them."

Giving Back, Getting Ahead

As a young professional in 2000, Rybolt saw a need for a YP service organization to, as he says, perform random acts of kindness on a grander scale.

Today, his brainchild Give Back Cincinnati has thousands of members that take part in volunteer projects citywide. This philanthropic bent didn't just result in Give Back Cincinnati "” Infintech also found it an inspiration for a new product.

The company created PledgeConnect, a custom payment tool for nonprofits and religious groups, after about a year in business.

"A lot of nonprofits five years ago were relying on sending out mailers and then waiting on a check to come back," Rybolt says. "We saw an opportunity to offer small nonprofits and religious organizations the opportunity to cast that giving net and capture more recurring and consistent contributions."

PledgeConnect, which allows people to give recurring donations out of their accounts, is now one of the fastest-growing e-giving platforms in the U.S.

Another key strategy for Infintech has been pairing up with chambers of commerce. After forging a relationship with a chamber, the internal sales team engages individual businesses in that group to present the product. Once a salesperson meets a client, he or she becomes the first point of contact for customer service and ongoing maintenance "” a relationship many of these businesses have never had.

"A lot of people set it up so that the person who goes out and signs that person up, once they sign them up, they'll never see them again. They're on to that next new business," DeBord explains. "We just didn't want to set it up in that model."

Sweet Home Cincinnati

While the last few years were focused on honing the product and expanding to new markets, today Infintech has found its rhythm.

Though many companies have lost business or even shut down in the last couple years, DeBord says he has been able to confidently tell his staff not to worry "” they didn't bite off more than they could chew. Infintech has even moved to a larger office to accommodate a growing staff.

"It's rewarding, but in the same breath, it's also stressful. It's a good stress though, just knowing you're providing opportunities in these challenging times, to over 30 people, and we're able to deliver on our commitments and still grow that, adding more individuals in the coming year," Rybolt says.

"We've never looked back," DeBord echoes. "From day one it's been so rewarding to see that everything you do is paying off and moving towards something."

From the office in Sharonville, the team has expanded business across the country. Even outside the region, Rybolt says clients recognize Cincinnati's strong work ethic and qualified talent that saturates the country, crossing industry lines.

Frankly, he's not surprised. Rybolt, who has served the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber in various capacities, is passionate about creating a roadmap of sustained growth for Cincinnati in the global economy.

He and his partners at Infintech are ready to make that goal a reality.

"This year and 2011 will be years of, "¢Let's execute this plan and really blow the doors off,'" Rybolt says.

And clearly, that shouldn't be a problem for a company that didn't consider the doors closed in the first place.