Owning the paycheck is the key to fintech success

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week, Natasha and Danny, otherwise known as your two new favorite Book influencers (inside joke, you’ll get if you listen to the show), hopped on the mics to take everyone threw the news, with Grace and Chris in the background.

Here’s what we got into:

Well, as you can tell, it’s been a busy writing and speaking week for your humble hosts. We’re grateful for the opportunity, and will be back in your ears on Monday.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

P.S. We can’t wait to see you all at our live show next week. If you haven’t grabbed free tickets, GET THEM!

#20vc, #a16z, #bookclub, #carbyne, #clair, #commsor, #community, #early-stage-startups, #edtech, #equity, #fintech, #future, #gusto, #harry-stebbings, #hbcuvc, #meetsy, #neo4j, #tc, #transferwise, #wise

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Wise announces plans to go public via direct listing

Wise, the fintech company formerly known as TransferWise, has announced that it wants to become a public company on the London Stock Exchange. Instead of following the traditional IPO route, Wise plans to go public via a direct listing. This is going to be the biggest direct listing on the London Stock Exchange.

If you’re not familiar with Wise, the company specializes in cross-border money transfers. If you want to send money to someone living in another country, traditional retail banks charge a lot in foreign exchange fees, foreign transaction fees, etc.

Of course, there are some well-known alternative options, such as Western Union and MoneyGram. While those companies provide some convenient on-ramp and off-ramp methods, they’re still more expensive than Wise.

With Wise, users first upload money to their Wise account using a bank transfer or a debit card. They can then send money in another currency to a recipient’s bank account. The company tries to be as transparent and upfront as possible when it comes to fixed and variable fees.

Originally founded in 2011, Wise has grown quite a lot as its revenue grew from $422 million to $586 million in its most recent financial year (from £303 million to £421 million respectively). It represents $57 million (£41 million) in profit before tax — the company says it has been profitable since 2017.

Overall, Wise has 10 million customers who process around $7 billion (£5 billion) in cross-border transactions every month. More recently, the company diversified its revenue by adding new products.

For instance, customers can hold money in 56 currencies in their Wise accounts. They get account numbers in 10 different currencies as well as a debit card. This feature is particularly useful for freelancers who want to accept payments in another country or people moving abroad for a year or two.

The company has also expanded beyond B2C with Wise Business. Those accounts work a bit like regular Wise accounts, but with multiple users and additional features. Wise also powers cross-border transactions in third-party services, such as Monzo and N26.

Opting for a direct listing is an interesting move. A few companies have chosen direct listings in the U.S., such as Spotify, Coinbase and Slack. It means that you’re confident there’ll be enough interests from investors as banks aren’t helping you with your introduction.

It also means that Wise doesn’t need more money as a direct listing doesn’t let you raise additional capital.

Like many tech companies, Wise plans to introduce a dual-class share structure, which means that all of Wise’s existing shareholders will get more votes per share for a while. This is going to be an important listing for the European fintech scene and also for the British tech ecosystem. Now, let’s see how investors feel about Wise.

#europe, #finance, #fintech, #startups, #transferwise, #wise

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#DealMonitor – Habyt bekommt 20 Millionen (und übernimmt homefully) – Finleap Connect sammelt 22 Millionen ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 17. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Habyt
+++ Vorwerk Ventures, HV Capital, P101 und Picus Capital investieren 20 Millionen Euro in den Co-Living-Anbieter Habyt. Im Zuge der Investmentrunde übernimmt Habyt zudem seinen  Wettbewerber homefully. Das Unternehmen wird “zunächst als eigenständige Marke weitergeführt”. homefully, von Sebastian Wuerz gegründet, vermietet seit 2016 möblierte Zimmer. In den vergangenen Jahren investierten HV Capital, RTP Global und Co. rund 6 Millionen in das Startup aus Frankfurt am Main. Habyt, 2017 von Luca Bovone gegründet, übernahm in den vergangenen Monaten bereits das Madrider Unternehmens Erasmo’s Room, den Berliner Wettbewerber GoLiving und das US-Geschäft von Quarters. Nach eigenen Angaben bietet Habyt derzeit über 5000 Wohneinheiten in 15 Städten und sechs Ländern an. Mehr über Habyt

Finleap Connect
+++ Der Softbank-Ableger SBI Investments und Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital investieren 22 Millionen Euro in Finleap Connect – siehe FinanceFWD. Das Geschäftskunden-FinTech, das 2019 aus dem Zusammenschluss der beiden Unternehmen Figo und Finreach hervorgegangen ist, positioniert sich als Full Stack-Plattform für Open-Banking-Dienstleistungen. Die Bewertung von Finleap Connect liegt offiziellen Angaben zufolge nun im “dreistelligen Millionenbereich”.

emax digital
+++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), Bayern Kapital sowie die Business Angels Dirk Freytag und Arndt Groth investieren in emax digital. “Mit dem Investment will das Startup den
Aufbau seiner KI-gestützten Reporting- und Analyse-Software vorantreiben”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. Das Münchner Unternehmen emax digital wurde 2018 von Andreas Kleofas und Dominik Pietrowski gegründet.

Limitd 
+++ Das Unternehmen eValue und die Hamburger Wünsche Group sowie einige Angel-Investoren investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Limitd. Das Berliner Startup, das 2019 von Ronald Horstman, Sebastian Weil, Malte Fehr und Roman Blumenstock (alle früher bei ProSiebenSat.1 tätig) gegründet wurde, entwickelt gemeinsam mit Influencern Produkte für den Einzelhandel – etwa die Chips-Marke ROB’s für CrispyRob. Das frische Kapital soll “in die laufenden Geschäfte und neue Marken” fließen.

Threatray
+++ Verve Ventures, Hammer Team, SICTIC, BackBone Ventures und innofund.vc investieren 2,3 Millionen Schweizer Franken in das Cyber-Security-Startup Threatray. “Threatray’s malware intelligence platform gives enterprise and government security teams deep visibility into attempted and unfolding malware attacks, facilitating effective defense and response to cyber-attacks”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das Spin-off der Berner Fachhochschule wurde 2018 von Endre Bangerter und Jonas Wagner gegründet.

Txture
+++ Corecam Capital Partners und red-stars data investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in das Innsbrucker Startup Txture – siehe Trending Topics. Das Spin-off der Universität Innsbruck, das 2017 von Thomas Trojer und Matthias Farwick gegründet wurde, bietet eine “Software-Plattform zur Analyse und Cloud-Transformation globaler IT-Landschaften” an.

VENTURE CAPITAL

encourageventures
+++ Mit encourageventures bauen 60 Top-Managerinnen ein Netzwerk für Gründerinnen auf. “Aus welcher Branche die Startups kommen, spielt dabei im ersten Schritt keine Rolle. Einzige
Grundvoraussetzung für eine Aufnahme in das encourageventures-Netzwerk: Es muss mindestens eine Frau an der Gründung beteiligt sein”, teilt das Netzwerk mit. Gemeinsam mit Auxxo plant encourageventures zudem den Aufbau eines All-Female-Growth-Fonds (100 bis 200 Millionen Euro). Zu den Unterstützerinnen von encourageventures gehören unter anderem Ina Schlie, Alexa Hergenröther, Filiz Albrecht, Astrid Frohloff, Anna Kaiser und Miriam Wohlfarth.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #backbone-ventures, #bayern-kapital, #bern, #corecam-capital-partners, #emax-digital, #encourageventures, #evalue, #finleap-connect, #fintech, #frankfurt-am-main, #habyt, #hammer-team, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #homefully, #hv-capital, #ilavska-vuillermoz-capital, #innofund-vc, #innsbruck, #limitd, #munchen, #p101, #picus-capital, #sbi-investments, #sictic, #threatray, #txture, #venture-capital, #verve-ventures, #vorwerk-ventures, #wunsche-group

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Unit raises $51M in Accel-led Series B to grow its banking-as-a-service platform

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Every company is a fintech.” 

But these days, that’s becoming more and more true as an increasing number of companies that are not even in the financial services space seek to add a fintech component to their offering.

A group of startups poised to benefit from this shift are those offering banking as a service. One such startup, Unit, has raised $51 million in a Series B round to further its goal of making it possible for companies and fintechs alike to build banking products “in minutes.”

Silicon Valley-based Accel led the round for Unit, bringing the company’s total raised since its 2019 inception to nearly $70 million. Existing backers Better Tomorrow Ventures, Aleph, Flourish Ventures and TLV Partners also participated in the latest financing

Founders Itai Damti and Doron Somech are no strangers to growing companies. The pair previously co-founded — and bootstrapped — Leverate, a Tel Aviv-based B2B trading tech provider. Unit has dual headquarters in Tel Aviv and New York City.

Damti and Somech founded Unit in late 2019 and spent the first year stealthily building out the platform with the mission of empowering companies to embed financial services into their product, accelerating their time to market. Unit officially launched its platform in late 2020, and over the last three months, it has seen deposit volume grow by more than 300% and new end users by 600% (albeit from a small base).

With its platform, Unit touts, companies in a variety of industries — such as freelance or creator economy and personal financial management, for example — can build financial products directly into their software. This gives them the ability to build and launch next-gen bank accounts, cards, payment and lending products. Customers include Wethos, Lance, Benepass, Moves and Tribevest, among others.

“Our mission is to expand financial access for all and we do it by empowering the next generation of fintech builders,” Damti said. Only about 20% of its customers are what might be considered true fintechs, he said. The remaining 80% are companies that are not but rather want to embed banking as a service into their offering.

Unit, Damti claims, takes what was once “a very expensive and complex process of 18 months” that includes finding and managing a bank relationship, building a compliance team and building a tech stack “that gets you to a competitive banking offering, and turns it into one API and one dashboard that helps companies launch accounts cards, payments and lending within five weeks.”

In conjunction with the funding, Unit is also announcing today a new offering, Unit Go, which it says allows companies to create live bank accounts and issue physical and virtual cards in minutes. Founders and developers can try it out by creating a free account, building in Unit’s live environment and testing their products using real funds. Unit Go is currently in beta and will be available to the public in the fall of 2021. 

The company plans to use its new capital to grow its headcount of 26 and fast-track its Unit Go offering. It also wants to expand its platform into additional financial products, software development kits (SDKs) and integrations. (It’s already integrated with Plaid, for example).

Of course, Unit is not the only startup in the burgeoning banking-as-a-service (BaaS) space. It competes with the likes of Railbank, Treasury Prime and Stripe. Damti believes there are a few things that help differentiate Unit in the increasingly crowded space.

For one, according to Damti, Unit intentionally “put compliance at the front and center of what we do.” As evidence of that, earlier this year, it tapped Amanda Swoverland to serve as its chief compliance officer. 

Secondly, Damti emphasizes that Unit is not a matchmaker or marketplace along the lines of Synctera.

“We are acting as a company that connects banks to the tech ecosystem and banks are critical vendors and partners to us, but we see them as a built-in element within Unit, because we believe that the most excellent experience in this ecosystem can only come from software companies,” Damti told TechCrunch. 

And finally, he notes, Unit is technically distinct in that it is actually building a ledger, which Damti describes as “the most critical and sensitive part of the ecosystem.”

By owning the ledger and not delegating, he said, Unit is “able to offer a radically better experience.”

“As far as the transaction environment, the cleanliness of the data that we provide and the fees that our customers are able to control and tweak, owning that ledger piece is super critical for the experience,” Damti said.  

Accel partner Amit Kumar notes that in recent years, the landscape has shifted from hundreds of fintech startups “trying to beat incumbents with slightly better products” to thousands of tech companies trying to launch fintech businesses in their verticals.

“Unit’s strong emphasis on managing compliance addresses the risk typically associated with offering banking services and allows customers to bring these products to market much faster than previously possible,” he told TechCrunch. “Unit is building the platform to power the next generation of fintech.”

#accel, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #payments, #recent-funding, #startups, #unit, #venture-capital

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Extra Crunch roundup: TC Mobility recaps, Nubank EC-1, farewell to browser cookies

What, exactly, are investors looking for?

Early-stage founders, usually first-timers, often tie themselves in knots as they try to project the qualities they hope investors are seeking. In reality, few entrepreneurs have the acting skills required to convince someone that they’re patient, dedicated or hard-working.

Johan Brenner, general partner at Creandum, was an early backer of Klarna, Spotify and several other European startups. Over the last two decades, he’s identified five key traits shared by people who create billion-dollar companies.


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“A true unicorn founder doesn’t need to have all of those capabilities on Day One,” says Brenner, “but they should already be thinking big while executing small and demonstrating that they understand how to scale a company.”

Drawing from observations gleaned from working with founders like Spotify’s Daniel Ek, Sebastian Siemiatkowski from Klarna, and iZettle’s Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson, Brenner explains where “VC FOMO” comes from and how it drives dealmaking.

We’re running a series of posts that recap conversations from last week’s virtual TC Mobility conference, including an interview with Refraction AI’s Matthew Johnson, a look at how autonomous delivery startups are navigating the regulatory and competitive landscape, and much more. There are many more recaps to come; click here to find them all.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

How contrarian hires and a pitch deck started Nubank’s $30 billion fintech empire

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Founded in 2013 and based in São Paulo, Brazil, Nubank serves more than 34 million customers, making it Latin America’s largest neobank.

Reporter Marcella McCarthy spoke to CEO David Velez to learn about his efforts to connect with consumers and overcome entrenched opposition from established players who were friendly with regulators.

In the first of a series of stories for Nubank’s EC-1, she interviewed Velez about his early fundraising efforts. For a balanced perspective, she also spoke to early Nubank investors at Sequoia and Kaszek Ventures, Latin America’s largest venture fund, to find out why they funded the startup while it was still pre-product.

“There are people you come across in life that within the first hour of meeting with them, you know you want to work with them,” said Doug Leone, a global managing partner at Sequoia who’d recruited Velez after he graduated from grad school at Stanford.

Marcella also interviewed members of Nubank’s founding team to better understand why they decided to take a chance on a startup that faced such long odds of success.

“I left banking to make a fifth of my salary, and back then, about $5,000 in equity,” said Vitor Olivier, Nubank’s VP of operations and platforms.

“Financially, it didn’t really make sense, so I really had to believe that it was really going to work, and that it would be big.”

Despite flat growth, ride-hailing colossus Didi’s US IPO could reach $70B

Image Credits: Didi

In his last dispatch before a week’s vacation, Alex Wilhelm waded through the numbers in Didi’s SEC filing. The big takeaways?

“While Didi managed an impressive GTV recovery in China, its aggregate numbers are flatter, and recent quarterly trends are not incredibly attractive,” he writes.

However, “Didi is not as unprofitable as we might have anticipated. That’s a nice surprise. But the company’s regular business has never made money, and it’s losing more lately than historically, which is also pretty rough.”

What’s driving the rise of robotaxis in China with AutoX, Momenta and WeRide

AutoX, Momenta and WeRide took the stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 to discuss the state of robotaxi startups in China and their relationships with local governments in the country.

They also talked about overseas expansion — a common trajectory for China’s top autonomous vehicle startups — and shed light on the challenges and opportunities for foreign AV companies eyeing the massive Chinese market.

The air taxi market prepares to take flight

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

“As in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors,” Aria Alamalhodaei writes. “A quick peek at comments and posts on LinkedIn reveals squabbles among industry insiders and analysts about when this emerging technology will truly take off and which companies will come out ahead.”

But while some electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) companies have no revenue yet to speak of — and may not for the foreseeable future — valuations are skyrocketing.

“Electric air mobility is gaining elevation,” she writes. “But there’s going to be some turbulence ahead.”

The demise of browser cookies could create a Golden Age of digital marketing

Though some may say the doomsday clock is ticking toward catastrophe for digital marketing, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, which does away with automatic opt-ins for data collection, and Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies do not signal a death knell for digital advertisers.

“With a few changes to short-term strategy — and a longer-term plan that takes into account the fact that people are awakening to the value of their online data — advertisers can form a new type of relationship with consumers,” Permission.io CTO Hunter Jensen writes in a guest column. “It can be built upon trust and open exchange of value.”

If offered the right incentives, Jensen predicts, “consumers will happily consent to data collection because advertisers will be offering them something they value in return.”

How autonomous delivery startups are navigating policy, partnerships and post-pandemic operations

Nuro second gen R2 delivery vehicle

Image Credits: Nuro

We kicked off this year’s TC Sessions: Mobility with a talk featuring three leading players in the field of autonomous delivery. Gatik co-founder and chief engineer Apeksha Kumavat, Nuro head of operations Amy Jones Satrom, and Starship Technologies co-founder and CTO Ahti Heinla joined us to discuss their companies’ unique approaches to the category.

The trio discussed government regulation on autonomous driving, partnerships with big corporations like Walmart and Domino’s, and the ongoing impact the pandemic has had on interest in the space.

Waabi’s Raquel Urtasun explains why it was the right time to launch an AV technology startup

Image Credits: Waabi via Natalia Dola

Raquel Urtasun, the former chief scientist at Uber ATG, is the founder and CEO of Waabi, an autonomous vehicle startup that came out of stealth mode last week. The Toronto-based company, which will focus on trucking, raised an impressive $83.5 million in a Series A round led by Khosla Ventures.

Urtasun joined Mobility 2021 to talk about her new venture, the challenges facing the self-driving vehicle industry and how her approach to AI can be used to advance the commercialization of AVs.

#artificial-intelligence, #av, #didi, #ec-techcrunch-tc-mobility, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #fintech, #klarna, #nubank, #robotaxi, #spotify, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital

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#DealMonitor – Aitme sammelt 9 Millionen ein – Xilinx kauft Silexica – ImmoScout24 übernimmt wg-suche.de


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 15. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Aitme
+++ HV Capital, Vorwerk Ventures, Global Founders Capital (GFC) und La Famiglia sowie Business Angel Oliver Ringleben investieren 9 Millionen Dollar in das Robotik-Startup Aitme. Insgesamt flossen nun schon  rund 12,5 Millionen Dollar in den Kantinen-Roboter. “Das frisch gewonnene Kapital wird Aitme für die Produktweiterentwicklung und nationaler Expansion im deutschen Markt nutzen”, teilt das Startup mit. Das von Foodora-Gründer Emanuel Pallua und Julian Stoß, zuletzt myTaxi, gegründete Unternehmen bietet vollautomatisierte Küchen für Unternehmen an. 20 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für Aitme. Mehr über Aitme

Dance
+++ Ein ganzer Schwung Angel- und Promi-Investoren investiert in Dance – darunter Chance the Rapper, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sujay Jaswa, Julian Hönig, Lea-Sophie Cramer, Maisie Williams, Suneil Setiya, Greg Skinner und will.i.am. “Dance ist stolz darauf mit Koryphäen aus verschiedenen Branchen, Ländern und mit verschiedenen Hintergründen zusammenzuarbeiten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Hinter Dance verbirgt sich ein Subscription-Service für E-Bikes, der von Alexander Ljung und Eric Quidenus sowie Jimdo-Macher Christian Springub gegründet wurde. Und auch Planet A Ventures investiert nun offiziell in Dance – wie im März exklusiv im Insider-Podcast berichtetMehr über Dance

FinList
+++ Das Unternehmen Strategis, das sich um Vertriebs- und Verwaltungslösungen in der Immobilienwirtschaft kümmert, investiert in FinList. Das junge Unternehmen positioniert sich als “digitaler Atlas für gewerbliche Immobilienfinanzierung”. Das Team beschreibt das Konzept so: “Finanzierungssuchende aus Deutschland und Österreich können hier Informationen zu passenden europäischen Kreditgebern für Fremd- und Nachrangkapital erhalten”. Gegründet wurde das FinTech aus Hohen Neuendorf von Sandra Olschewski und Florian Hollm.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Silexica
+++ Das amerikanische Unternehmen Xilinx, im Segment adaptives Computing unterwegs, übernimmt das Kölner Startup Silexica. Das Unternehmen, das 2014 gegründet wurde, entwickelt SLX-Programmierungstechnologien, die Unternehmen dabei unterstützen, intelligente Produkte wie selbstfahrende Autos vom Konzept bis zur Implementierung zu begleiten. Investoren wie EQT Ventures, Merus Capital, Paua Ventures, DSA Invest und der Seed Fonds Aachen investierten in den vergangen Jahren rund 28 Millionen in Silexica. “Silexica’s SLX FPGA tool suite empowers developers with an unparalleled development experience building applications on FPGAs and Adaptive SoCs. This technology will become integrated with the Xilinx Vitis™ unified software platform to substantially reduce the learning curve for software developers building sophisticated applications on Xilinx technology”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Der Verkaufspreis ist nicht bekannt. Mehr über Silexica

wg-suche.de
+++ Der Immobilien-Marktplatz ImmoScout24 übernimmt WG-suche.de komplett – siehe Gründerzene. “Für die Übernahme dürfte  ein Millionenbetrag geflossen sein”, heißt es im Artikel. ImmoScout24 stieg bereits 2017 bei wg-suche.de ein. Das Unternehmen sicherte sich damals 25 % an der jungen Firma, die WG-Zimmer und möblierte Wohnungen vermittelt. Die Investitionssumme lag vor vier Jahren im niedrigen siebenstelligen Bereich. Der WG-Dienst wurde zudem schon früh von You Is Now, dem inzwischen eingestellten Inkubator-Programm von Scout24, unterstützt. wg-suche.de ging 2012 an den Start. Gegründet wurde die Plattform von Natascha Wegelin (Madame Moneypenny) und Carsten Wagner.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aitme, #aktuell, #berlin, #dance, #exit, #finlist, #fintech, #global-founders-capital, #hohen-neuendorf, #hv-capital, #immoscout24, #koln, #la-famiglia, #mobility, #planet-a-ventures, #roboter, #silexica, #strategis, #venture-capital, #vorwerk-ventures, #wg-suche-de, #xilinx

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How contrarian hires and a pitch deck started Nubank’s $30 billion fintech empire

For most startups, the hardest early challenge is identifying a market and a product to serve it. That wasn’t the case for Nubank CEO David Velez, who understood the massive potential for success if he could break into Latin America’s most valuable economy with even a moderately modern banking offering.

Instead, the challenge was how to rebuild the concept of a bank in a country where banking is widely hated, all while the incumbents heavily entrenched with the state worked to block every move.

Nubank knew its market and geography, and through tenacious fundraising, inventive marketing and product development, and a series of contrarian hires, Velez and his team stripped bare the morass of Brazilian banking to build one of the world’s great fintech companies.

The challenge was how to rebuild the concept of a bank in a country where banking is widely hated, all while the incumbents heavily entrenched with the state worked to block every move.

In the first part of this EC-1, I’ll look at how Velez brought his skills and experience to bear on this market, how Nubank was founded in 2013, and how the team brought a Californian rather than Brazilian vibe to their first office on — no joke — California Street, in a neighborhood called Brooklin in the city of São Paulo.

The makings of an entrepreneur

The idea of being his own boss was ingrained in Velez from his earliest days in Colombia, where he grew up in an entrepreneurial family, with a father who owned a button factory. “I heard from my dad over and over again that you need to start your own company,” Velez said.

But years would pass and Velez still had no idea what he wanted to do. To “kill time,” and also to surround himself with entrepreneurial energy, Velez attended Stanford University — partially financed by the sale of some livestock — and then worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley before switching to venture capital at General Atlantic and Sequoia.

#banking, #brazil, #credit-card, #david-velez, #ec-brazil, #ec-fintech, #ec-latin-america-and-caribbean, #ec-1, #finance, #fintech, #nubank, #nubank-ec-1, #online-bank, #online-banking, #startups, #tc

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One woman’s drive to make a neobank as magical as Disney

As we mentioned in part 1 of this EC-1, David Velez had two key co-founding roles he needed to fill to get started building Nubank. For one, he needed a CTO to lead the engineering side of the business, as Velez didn’t have an engineering background.

Edward Wible, an American computer science graduate who spent most of his career in private equity, would take that responsibility. He didn’t bring years of coding experience, but he had qualities that Velez considered more important: A strong belief in the potential of the product and an equally intense commitment to working on it.

Given the occasionally hostile reaction of most incumbent banks to their customers in Brazil, Nubank’s starkly contrasting openness and transparency has garnered a huge following.

That left an even more important role to fill — one that was much harder to define. This other co-founder would need to blend knowledge of the Brazilian market and local savvy with expertise in banking, all while embodying a Silicon Valley ethos of focusing on customers. This person would also have to work in São Paulo for minimal wages out of a small office with just one bathroom, all in the belief that their equity (both stock and sweat) would one day be worth it.

Velez would eventually stumble upon Cristina Junqueira, who was qualified to do all this, and much, much more.

“Once someone said I was the glue of the operation, and that someone else was the brains. And I said, ‘No, I’m the glue and the brains, and I bet my brain is even better than his,”’ Junqueira said.

Junqueira didn’t just lead Nubank’s drive into the Brazilian market, she also upended age-old notions of what it means to be a 21st-century bank. Her inspiration was nothing short of Disney, and her mission was to create a bank as popular as the magical kingdom itself.

A bank. As popular as Disney. Sounds like a fairy tale, frankly.

Raised to be a doer

Unlike her co-founders Velez and Wible, Junqueira grew up in Nubank’s home market of Brazil. The eldest of four sisters, she remembers her parents — both dentists — always assiduously working to maintain their practice.

Their work ethic trickled down, but so did responsibility. As the oldest at home, she was forced to grow up quickly and take on responsibilities from an early age. “I remember being 11 years old and doing grocery shopping for the month,” she said. “I did everything very young.”

#brazil, #credit-card, #cristina-junquiera, #david-velez, #ec-brazil, #ec-fintech, #ec-latin-america-and-caribbean, #ec-1, #finance, #fintech, #nubank, #nubank-ec-1, #online-banking, #startups, #tc

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How Nubank’s CX strategy made it one of the most loved digital banks

As we saw in parts 1 and 2 of this EC-1, by mid-2013, Nubank CEO David Velez had most of what he needed to get started. He’d brought on two co-founders, assembled ambitious engineering and operations teams, raised $2 million in seed funding from Sequoia and Kaszek, rented a tiny office in São Paulo, and was armed with a mission to deliver the kind of banking services that customers in a market as large and lucrative as Brazil’s should expect.

Despite being named Nubank, however, the startup couldn’t actually be a bank: Brazil’s laws made it illegal at the time for a foreigner-run company to operate a bank. That restriction required the team to develop an inventive product strategy to find a foothold in the market while they waited for a license directly from the country’s president.

Nubank was so adamant about differentiating itself from other banks that it chose Barney purple for its brand color and first credit card.

Nubank therefore pursued a credit card as its first offering, but it had to race against a clock counting quickly down to zero. At the time, Brazil didn’t have ownership restrictions on this product segment like it did with banking, but new rules were coming into force in just a few months in May 2014 that would block a company like Nubank from launching.

The company needed to execute rapidly over the next eight months if it wanted to be grandfathered into the existing regulations. The speed of operations was frantic to say the least, and the company would go on to work even faster, ultimately propelling itself into the stratosphere of fintech startups.

Full faith in credit

It’s easy to assume that the name Nubank refers to “new bank,” but that’s not really what the founders were going for. The word “nu” in Portuguese means “naked,” and Velez and his team wanted the name to reflect their vision: To build a 21st-Century bank without any of the shackles imposed by the traditional banks in Brazil.

The team wanted to offer services to as many people as possible, as there is a huge wealth gap in Brazil, where the minimum wage is around $200 a month.

Launching with just a credit card was both a strategic and practical business decision. Credit cards were widely used in the country, and everyone understood how they worked. Additionally, you could only use credit cards to shop online in Brazil, because debit cards weren’t accepted.

#brazil, #credit-card, #david-velez, #ec-brazil, #ec-fintech, #ec-latin-america-and-caribbean, #ec-1, #finance, #fintech, #nubank, #nubank-ec-1, #online-banking, #startups, #tc

0

Which Nubank will own the financial revolution?

Nubank’s first office, on California Street in the Brooklin neighborhood of São Paulo, makes for a great beginning to the company’s story. It wasn’t a Silicon Valley garage, but this tiny, one-bathroom rented house, where 30 people worked insane hours to push out the company’s debut credit card, lends just as well to an image of entrepreneurial spirit and drive.

As Nubank continues to make international waves, more and more VC investors are taking a look at the Brazilian ecosystem and could potentially fund other upstarts in the years to come.

But as Nubank’s story continued, the team eventually had to move out of that early office, and the next several offices, too. Eventually Nubank had to relocate to an eight-story building in São Paulo, which houses a large part of the company’s now 3,000-person team.

The startup reached decacorn status in far less than a decade, and it is growing faster than ever. When I interviewed CEO David Velez back in January to discuss Nubank’s $400 million Series G, he said, “We’ve gone from 12 million customers in 2019 to 34 million solely based on word of mouth.” By September last year, the company was onboarding 41,000 new customers per day.

In the five months since our interview, Nubank has managed to rope in a whopping 6 million customers to reach 40 million. It’s now valued at $30 billion.

Nubank’s present day headquarters in São Paulo, Brazil. Image Credits: NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP / Getty Images

Getting there hasn’t been easy. The company’s three co-founders, Velez, Edward Wible and Cristina Junqueira, had to make key strategic decisions about how to scale themselves to retain the company’s lead in the neobanking market. That lead is getting tougher to sustain every day. Nubank’s proliferating offerings and broader geographical remit has painted a massive target on its back, and a wide number of competitors have cropped up to run on the paths it pioneered.

Like most Disney films, a fairy-tale ending seems in order, but it’ll take a few more rotations of the film wheel to get to the ending.

Early mistakes and ingredients for success

For the co-founding trio, it became increasingly clear that Nubank’s growing scale demanded critical strategic decisions on how to bring order to the company.

By 2018, the company had thousands of employees, millions of customers, and they still didn’t have a head of HR. Growth until then had been somewhat unstructured. According to Junqueira, waiting so long to hire a head of HR was one of their early mistakes, because it stunted their ability to grow. “[Good] people continue to be our biggest bottleneck,” she says.

#brazil, #credit-card, #ec-brazil, #ec-fintech, #ec-latin-america-and-caribbean, #ec-1, #finance, #fintech, #nubank, #nubank-ec-1, #online-banking, #startups, #tc

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Extra Crunch roundup: EU insurtech, 30 years of ‘Crossing the Chasm,’ embedded finance’s endgame

This morning, Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm dug into the EU insurtech market, interviewing European VCs and collating the biggest recent rounds to take the temperature of the waters across the pond:

  • Alex Timm, CEO, Root
  • Dan Preston, CEO, MetroMile
  • Luca Bocchio, partner, Accel
  • Florian Graillot, investor, Astorya.vc
  • Stephen Brittain, director and founder, Insurtech Gateway

Several European-based insurtech startups entered unicorn territory this year, such as Bought By Many, which offers pet insurance; London-based Zego; and Alan, a French startup that raised a $220 million round.

According to Brittain, EU startups in this sector are “still at the very early stages of innovation,” having only shown “a fraction of what’s possible” in a market that is “as large as banking.” Interestingly, he predicted that AI will play a larger role in the future as companies deploy it for fraud detection, improved customer experiences and processing claims more quickly.

“We are fully expecting the next generation of AI-driven business to unlock real-time risk analysis, pricing and claims resolution in the next few years,” he said.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch; I hope you have a safe, relaxing weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

What do these 4 IPOs tell us about the state of the market?

Earlier this week, The Exchange assessed the looming Monday.com IPO before reading the tea leaves about that flotation and three others to sum up the overall state of the market.

So what do the Marqeta, Monday.com, Zeta Global and 1stDibs debuts tell us? We may have been too conservative.

Toast’s Aman Narang and BVP’s Kent Bennett on how customer obsession is everything

Image Credits: Bessemer Venture Partners / Toast

On a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, we spoke to Toast founder Aman Narang and Kent Bennett of Bessemer Venture Partners about how they came together for a deal, what makes the difference for both founders and investors when fundraising, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned so far.

The episode also featured the Extra Crunch Live Pitch-Off, where audience members pitched their products to Bennett and Narang and received live feedback.

Extra Crunch Live is open to everyone each Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT, but only Extra Crunch members are able to stream these sessions afterward and watch previous shows on-demand in our episode library.

AI startup investment is on pace for a record year

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim solicited feedback from investors to get a temperature on the market for AI startup investments.

“The startup investing market is crowded, expensive and rapid-fire today as venture capitalists work to preempt one another, hoping to deploy funds into hot companies before their competitors,” they write. “The AI startup market may be even hotter than the average technology niche.”

But that’s not surprising. The Exchange was on it.

“In the wake of the Microsoft-Nuance deal, The Exchange reported that it would be reasonable to anticipate an even more active and competitive market for AI-powered startups,” Alex and Anna note. “Our thesis was that after Redmond dropped nearly $20 billion for the AI company, investors would have a fresh incentive to invest in upstarts with an AI focus or strong AI component; exits, especially large transactions, have a way of spurring investor interest in related companies.”

Their expectation is coming true: Investors reported a fierce market for AI startups.

Dear Sophie: What is a diversity green card and how do I apply for one?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I started a tech company about two years ago, and ever since I’ve dreamed of expanding my company in the United States.

I would love to have a green card. Someone mentioned that I should apply for a diversity green card. Would you please provide me with more details about it and how to apply?

— Technical in Tanzania

How to start a company in 4 days

Turtle (real) with a rocket on the back, a match (real flame) is about to ignite it. No turtles were harmed in the making of this stock image.

Image Credits: MediaProduction (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Pulley founder and three-time YC alum Yin Wu offers a tactical guide to getting a startup running in four days. Yes, just four days.

“The logistics of setting up a startup should be simple, because over the long run, complicated equity setups and cap tables cost more money in legal fees and administration time,” Wu notes.

Read on for guidance on how to get your business going in less than a week.

Health clouds are set to play a key role in healthcare innovation

Health clouds are important for innovation in healthcare

Image Credits: Natali_Mis / Getty Images

Innovaccer founder and CEO Abhinav Shashank and CTO Mike Sutten write in a guest column that the U.S. healthcare industry is in the middle of a massive transformation.

This shift, they write, “is being stimulated by federal mandates, technological innovation, and the need to improve clinical outcomes and communication between providers, patients and payers.”

Improving healthcare now means we need to process tremendous amounts of healthcare data. How do we do it? The cloud, which “plays a pivotal role in meeting the current needs of healthcare organizations.”

What SOSV’s Climate Tech 100 tells founders about investors in the space

Climate tech presents a trillion-dollar opportunity

Image Credits: MrJub / Getty Images

SOSV’s Benjamin Joffe and Meghan Hind round up a “who’s who” from the venture capital firm’s SOSV Climate Tech 100, a list of the best startups addressing climate change that SOSV has supported from the very beginning.

“What can founders learn from the list about climate tech investors? In other words, who invested in the Climate Tech 100?” they ask.

The fintech endgame: New supercompanies combine the best of software and financials

Image Credits: Donald Iain Smith (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Now that we can transact from anywhere, a new, hybrid class of software companies with embedded financial services are scooping up consumers — and investors are following the action.

Using data from a Battery Ventures report about “the intersection of software and financial services,” this post examines why these companies can be so hard to value and offers a framework for better understanding their business models and investor appeal.

After 30 years, ‘Crossing the Chasm’ is due for a refresh

Hoover Dam area, Mike O'Callaghan, Pat Tillman bridge.

Image Credits: Grant Faint (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Geoffrey Moore’s “Chasm,” a framework for marketing technology products that has been one of the canonical foundational concepts to product-market fit for three decades, needs a bit of an upgrade, Flybridge Capital’s Jeff Bussgang writes.

“I have been reflecting on why it is that we venture capitalists and founders keep making the same mistake over and over again — a mistake that has become even more glaring in recent years,” he writes.

Bussgang goes on to consider the Chasm — and propose tweaks for thinking about market size in the modern era.

#climate-tech, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #fintech, #insurance, #insurtech, #mobility, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital

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Lydia partners with Cashbee to add savings accounts

French startup Lydia is better known as the dominant app for peer-to-peer payments. But the company has been adding more features, such as a debit card, account aggregation, donations, money pots and more. This week, the company is adding savings accounts thanks to a partnership with French fintech startup Cashbee.

If you aren’t familiar with Cashbee, the company lets you open savings accounts through a mobile app. After connecting your bank account with Cashbee, you can transfer money back and forth between your bank account and a savings account.

Right now, Cashbee partners with My Money Bank for the savings accounts. Cashbee doesn’t keep your money, it just acts as a middle person between your bank account and My Money Bank. With those savings accounts, users can expect an interest rate of 0.6% after an introductory rate of 2% for a few months.

Lydia basically offers the same terms and conditions with a few differences. Instead of earning 2% interest for the first three months, Lydia users only earn more interests during the first two months.

The other big difference is that Lydia asks you to put at least €1,000 on your savings account when you open it. If you go through Cashbee’s app, you only have to put €10 or more. But users can do whatever they want after that when it comes to putting some money aside and withdrawing money from the savings account.

But the fact that Cashbee is seamlessly integrated in Lydia is interesting. It’s going to expose Cashbee to a lot more users as Lydia has more than 5 million users. It’s also an important features if Lydia wants to become a financial super app.

This savings feature competes with Livret A, the most prevailing savings account in France. Everybody can open a Livret A in a retail bank. You get an interest rate of 0.5% net of taxes. On paper, 0.6% is better than 0.5%. But Cashbee’s savings accounts aren’t net of taxes.

If you’re a student and don’t pay any taxes, that’s a better deal. But many people pay 30% in taxes on accrued interests, which means that you end up earning 0.42% in interests net of taxes with a Cashbee account.

But it’s hard to beat the simplicity of Lydia’s solution here. For instance, you can save up to €1,000,000 on your savings account while the Livret A is limited to €22,950. In other words, if you’re already using Lydia to send, receive and spend money, you might want to check out those savings accounts.

#apps, #cashbee, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #france, #france-newsletter, #lydia, #startups

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Money Minx aims to build a ‘Personal Finance’ OS for the everyday investor

New regulations are making it easier to invest in alternative assets via crowdfunding, and the recent explosion of crypto and NFTs means that investors are more diversified than ever. 

Keeping up with such a variety of investments may prove difficult to those who want to handle managing their investment portfolios on their own. Money Minx, a new San Diego-based startup co-founded by husband and wife team Hussein and Jessica Yahfoufi, wants to help with that.

Put simply, Money Minx aims to build a “Personal Finance OS” for every household. The platform is designed to help people track all of their investments — yes, including crypto and NFTs — in one place, in whatever currency. The company claims that its AI can also go a step further, and help people spot opportunities in their portfolio as well as catch potential risks.

“We built Money Minx to help people cover all their bases, better understand their personal balance sheet and grow their net worth,” Hussein said. “No financial advisor needed.”

Money Minx also aims to provide people with easy-to-use tools to create dashboards and reports. In its “soft launch” phase, the startup has been growing rapidly — from $15 million in assets tracked at the end of March to $107 million by mid-May. Its user base is growing by 40% month over month.

As many founders do, Hussein says he and Jessica developed the platform to meet a need of their own.

“We built this because we needed it as ‘do it yourself investors,’ said Hussein, who previously started crowdfunding site appsplit and works as a CTO at a San Diego-based fintech company. “I didn’t want to hire a financial advisor and spend 1% of my portfolio every year for them to tell me what to do. So I started to do it on my own on a spreadsheet and then started building this tool last year.”

Hussein talked to other investors and realized that many were also managing their own finances and had also moved into investing outside the stock market.

Image Credits: Money Minx co-founders Jessica and Hussein Yahfoufi / Money Minx

“Everyday investors are preferring to invest more in crowdfunding sites and alternative assets than the traditional stock market,” he said. 

This shift has created a gap in the market for an easy way to track investments across multiple platforms, the Yahfoufis believe. 

Money Minx operates as a SaaS business and charges a monthly subscription fee across three different plans ranging from $10 to $30 a month. Looking ahead, Hussein is considering building out a white-glove service.

Although Money Minx has been approached by interested VCs, Hussein says the company prefers to stay bootstrapped — for now.

Indeed, VCs are pouring money into the space. Just last week, personal finance startup Truebill announced it had raised a $45 million Series D funding round led by Accel.

#apps, #artificial-intelligence, #crowdfunding, #crypto-economy, #cryptocurrency, #entrepreneurship, #finance, #financial-advisor, #fintech, #money, #money-minx, #saas, #san-diego, #startup, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #truebill

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#DealMonitor – Lukasz Gadowski und Co. investieren 15 Millionen in Incari – wajve sammelt 5 Millionen ein – Project A investiert in Priceloop


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 10. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Incari
+++ Seriengründer und Investor Lukasz Gadowski (Team Europe) investiert gemeinsam mit weiteren Investoren 15 Millionen Euro in Incari. Das Berliner Unternehmen, das von Osman Dumbuya gegründet wurde, ist im Segment Mensch-Maschine-Schnittstellen (HMI) unterwegs. Incari bietet seinen Nutzer:innen “eine komfortable Bedienoberfläche, um komplexe Interfaces ohne Programmierkenntnisse zu gestalten”. Incari ging 2021 aus dem Unternehmen CGI-Studio hervor, das bisher im Automobilsegment unterwegs war. Nun soll das Unternehmen auch andere Branchen angehen.”Die Gründer werden mit den Investoren um Lukasz Gadowski das Unternehmen auf die nächste Stufe des Wachstums führen, nachdem es in der Frühphase durch Angel-Investoren, unter anderem Wunderkind von Armin Pohl, unterstützt wurde”, teilt die Jungfirma mit.

wajve 
+++ EQT Ventures, 468 Capital, OMR, Lucas von Cranach (OneFootball), Roland Grenke (Dubsmash, Acapela Group) und Christian Gaiser (Cosi) investieren 5 Millionen Euro in wajve. Mit wajve setzen Bastian Krautwald und David Meyer, die Gründer des erfolgreichen Unternehmens DeineStudienfinanzierung, auf eine Finanzapp, die sich an die Generation Z richtet. Das neue Smartphone-Bank soll dabei “Banking, Beratung und Bildung in einer App bündeln”. Das Berliner FinTech teilt dazu mit: “Mit der Finanzierung soll das Roll-out der Plattform für die ersten Kunden in Deutschland beschleunigt werden, bevor sie in andere europäische Märkte expandiert”.

EqualTo
+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber Cavalry Ventures, Amaranthine, First Momentum Ventures, helloworld.vc und mehrere Angel-Investoren aus dem Umfeld von Saarbrücker21 sowie Felix Jahn (McMakler), Dieter Buchl und Stephen Weich (Flaschenpost.de), und Phil Chambers (Peakon) investieren 3,5 Millionen Euro in EqualTo. Das Startup aus Freiburg, das 2020 von Gijs Hubben, Diarmuid Glynn und Kim Bergstrand gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als No-Code-Lösung für Vertriebsprovisionen. Zu den Kunden gehören Unternehmen wie McMakler, UXCam und Solvemate.

Priceloop
+++ Der Berliner Kapitalgeber Project A Ventures investiert in Priceloop. Das Berliner Startup, das 2020 vom Contorion-Gründer Richard Schwenke und Dat Tran (zuletzt unter anderem Head of AI, Axel Springer) gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als KI-gestützte Software zur Optimierung von Verkaufspreisen. “Priceloop helps e-commerce and retail companies to be more successful by using data-driven pricing decisions”, heißt es in der Selbstbeschreibung der Jungfirma.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#468-capital, #aktuell, #amaranthine, #berlin, #cavalry-ventures, #eqt-ventures, #equalto, #fintech, #first-momentum-ventures, #helloworld-vc, #incari, #lukasz-gadowski, #priceloop, #project-a-ventures, #venture-capital, #wajve

0

Fintech giant Klarna raises $639M at a $45.6B valuation amid ‘massive momentum’ in the US

Just over three months after its last funding round, European fintech giant Klarna is announcing today that it has raised another $639 million at a staggering post-money valuation of $45.6 billion.

Rumors swirled in recent weeks that Klarna had raised more money at a valuation north of $40 billion. But the Swedish buy now, pay later behemoth and upstart bank declined to comment until now.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led the latest round, which also included participation from existing investors Adit Ventures, Honeycomb Asset Management and WestCap Group. The new valuation represents a 47.3% increase over Klarna’s post-money valuation of $31 billion in early March, when it raised $1 billion, and a 330% increase over its $10.6 billion valuation at the time of its $650 million raise last September. Previous backers include Sequoia Capital, SilverLake, Dragoneer and Ant Group, among others.

The latest financing cements 16-year-old Klarna’s position as the highest-valued private fintech in Europe.

In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch, Klarna CEO and founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski said the company has seen explosive growth in the U.S. and plans to use its new capital in part to continue to grow there and globally.

In particular, over the past year, the fintech has seen “massive momentum” in the country, with more than 18 million American consumers now using Klarna, he said. That’s up from 10 million at the end of last year’s third quarter, and up 118% year over year. Klara is now live with 24 of the top 100 U.S. retailers, which it says is “more than any of its competitors.”

Overall, Klarna is live in 20 markets, has more than 90 million global active users and more than 2 million transactions a day conducted on its platform. The company’s momentum can be seen in its impressive financial results. In the first quarter, Klarna notched $18.1 billion in volume compared to $9.9 billion in the prior year first quarter. In all of 2020, it processed $53 billion in volume. To put that into context; Affirm’s financial report in May projected it would process $8.04 billion in volume for the entire fiscal year of 2021 and Afterpay is projecting $16 billion in volume for its entire fiscal year. 

March 2021 also represented a record month for global shopping volume with $6.9 billion of purchases made through the Klarna platform.

Meanwhile, in 2020, Klara hit over a billion in revenue. While the company was profitable for its first 14 years of life, it has not been profitable the last two, according to Siemiatkowski, and that’s been by design.

“We’ve scaled up so massively in investments in our growth and technology, but running on a loss is very odd for us,” he told TechCrunch. “We will get back to profitability soon.”

Klarna has entered six new markets this year alone, including New Zealand and France, where it just launched this week. It is planning to expand into a number of new markets this year. The company has about 4,000 employees with several hundred in the U.S. in markets such as New York and Los Angeles. It also has offices in Stockholm, London, Manchester, Berlin, Madrid and Amsterdam. 

While Klarna is partnered with over 250,000 retailers around the world (including Macy’s, Ikea, Nike, Saks), its buy now, pay later feature is also available direct to consumers via its shopping app. This means that consumers can use Klarna’s app to pay immediately or later, as well as manage spending and view available balances. They can also do things like initiate refunds, track deliveries and get price-drop notifications.

“Our shopping browser allows users to use Klarna everywhere,” Siemiatkowski said. “No one else is offering that, and are rather limited to integrating with merchants.”

Image Credits: Klarna

Other things the company plans to do with its new capital is focus on acquisitions, particularly acqui-hires, according to Siemiatkowski. According to Crunchbase, the company has made nine known acquisitions over time — most recently picking up Los Gatos-based content creation services provider Toplooks.ai.

“We’re the market leader in this space and we want to find new partners that want to support us in this,” Siemiatkowski told TechCrunch. “That gives us better prerequisites to be successful going forward. Now we have more cash and money available to invest further in the long term.”

Klarna has long been rumored to be going public via a direct listing. Siemiatkowski said that the company in many ways already acts like a public company in that it offers stock to all its employees, and reports financials — giving the impression that the company is not in a hurry to go the public route.

“We report quarterly to national authorities and are a fully regulated bank so do all the things you expect to see from public companies such as risk control and compliance,” he told TechCrunch. “We’re reaching a point for it to be a natural evolution for the company to IPO. But we’re not preparing to IPO anytime soon.”

At the time of its last funding round, Klarna announced its GiveOne initiative to support planet health. With this round, the company is again giving 1% of the equity raised back to the planet.

Naturally, its investors are bullish on what the company is doing and its market position. Yanni Pipilis, managing partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers, said the company’s growth isfounded on a deep understanding of how the purchasing behaviors of consumers are changing,” an evolution SoftBank believes is only accelerating. 

Eric Munson, founder and CIO of Adit Ventures, said his firm believes the “best is yet to come as Klarna multiplies their addressable market through global expansion.” 

For Siemiatkowski, what Klarna is trying to achieve is to compete with the $1 trillion-plus credit card industry.

We really see right now all the signs are there. True competition is coming to this space, this decade,” he said. “This is an opportunity to genuinely disrupt the retail banking space.”

 

#amsterdam, #ant-group, #apps, #bank, #berlin, #bnpl, #buy-now-pay-later, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #france, #funding, #fundings-exits, #ikea, #klarna, #london, #los-angeles, #macys, #madrid, #manchester, #market-leader, #money, #new-york, #new-zealand, #nike, #payments, #recent-funding, #sebastian-siemiatkowski, #sequoia-capital, #softbank-investment-advisers, #softbank-vision-fund-2, #stockholm, #united-states, #venture-capital

0

#Brandneu – 9 neue und extrem spannende FinTech-Startups


deutsche-startups.de präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

invest Wise
Das FinTech invest Wise richtet sich an Privatpersonen ohne vorhandenes Finanzwissen oder verfügbare Zeit beim Thema Geldanlage. Dabei setzt die Jungfirma auf einen eigens entwickelten Algorithmus, um seinen Nutzer:innen “jeweils geeigneten Anlageklassen vorzuschlagen. invest Wise war zuletzt auch in unserem Pitch-Podcast zu Gast.

Momo
Das Berliner Startup Momo, das von Simplo-Gründer Marcel Meitza ins Leben gerufen wurde, positioniert sich als Kredit-Alternative zum “herkömmlichen Mietkautionskonto”.Die Berliner teilen dazu mit: “Wir bieten Mietern eine Fazilität in einer vorher vereinbarten Höhe, die maximal drei Monatsmieten entspricht”.

Airbank
Airbank, das von Christopher Zemina und Patrick de Castro Neuhaus gegründet wurde, kann mal als CFO-Cockpit bezeichnen. Die Gründer schreiben: “Unify your bank accounts, PayPal, Stripe and Shopify into a single place. Pay bills, set team permissions, get cashflow insights and allocate unused cash with ease”.

wellet
Mit wellet aus Düsseldorf, das von Sergei Tokmakov gegründet wurde, kann jeder sein Smartphone zum Kartenlesegerät machen und so bargeldloses Zahlen ermöglichen. “Es sind keine extra Terminals mehr nötig, um VISA, Mastercard oder andere Kreditkarten zu akzeptieren”, teilt das FinTech mit.

Wellfair
Mit Wellfair baut Kreditech- und Finiata-Gründer Sebastian Diemer derzeit eine Wett-Firma für alle denkbaren Themen (Wetter, Kurse bzw. Wahlergebnisse) auf. Auf der Website heißt es zum Projekt: “A market place for the future. Like sports betting meeting wikipedia meeting bitcoin”.

Cure
Das Berlin Startup Cure positioniert sich als “intelligenter Finanzbegleiter für Heilberufe”. Herzstück ist dabei ein “smarter SaaS-basierter Finanzlayer zwischen Bank und Praxis”. Die Open Banking-Plattform integriert sich dabei “nahtlos in die Prozesse der medizinischen Praxis”.

Divizend
Divizend aus München entwickelt Lösungen für Investments in Dividendenaktien und damit verbundene Steuerthemen. “Unser Ziel ist es, mit unserem ganzheitlichen Ansatz ‘Finden, Handeln, Maximieren’ zum zentralen Anlaufpunkt für Anleger zum Thema Dividende zu werden”, teilt das Fintech mit.

Promisioo
Das Düsseldorfer FinTech Promisioo bringt sich als “Online Broker für nachhaltig gutes Trading” in Stellung. Das Team verspricht dabei “professionelles Trading, niedrige Kosten und persönlicher Support”. Promisioo wurde von Serkan Dizbay und Stefan Schmitt gegründet.

Finmid
Berliner Startup Finmid, das von den beiden ehemaligen N26-Mitarbeiter Max Schertel und Alexander Talkanitsa gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als “Financial services infrastructure for software businesses”. Earlybird Venture Capital und N26-Gründer Maximilian Tayenthal investierten bereits in das FinTech.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#airbank, #aktuell, #berlin, #brandneu, #cure, #divizend, #dusseldorf, #finmid, #fintech, #invest-wise, #kronberg, #momo, #munchen, #payment, #promisioo, #wellet, #wellfair

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#DealMonitor – Tencent investiert in Scalable Capital – peaq bekommt 2,5 Millionen – Flow Lab sammelt 1 Million ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 9. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Scalable Capital
+++ Jetzt offiziell! Der chinesische Techkonzern Tencent und Altinvestoren investieren 180 Millionen US-Dollar in Scalable Capital. Der digitale Vermögensverwalter, der 2014 von Florian Prucker, Erik Podzuweit, Patrick Pöschl, Adam French und Stefan Mittnik gegründet wurde, sammelt nun schon 320 Millionen Dollar ein. “Das neue Kapital wird verwendet, um das europäische Wachstum von Scalable Capital zu beschleunigen und den Aufbau eines ganzheitlichen digitalen Vermögensverwaltungs- und Brokerage-Angebots fortzusetzen”, teilt die Jungfirma mit. Im Zuge der aktuellen Investmentrunde steigt das Unternehmen aus München zum Unicorn auf. Die Bewertung liegt bei 1,4 Milliarden Dollar (Post-Money). 230 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für Scalable Capital. Zuletzt sammelte das der Neobroker und Robo-Advisor 50 Millionen Euro ein – unter anderem von Hedosophia, BlackRock, HV Capital und Tengelmann Ventures. Im Insider-Podcast haben wir bereits am Montag über das Investment berichtet. Mehr über Scalable Capital

peaq
+++ Die Beteiligungsgesellschaft Scherzer & Co., Werner Geissler, ehemaliger Vice-Chairman von Procter & Gamble, und Meteoric VC investieren 2,5 Millionen Euro in peaq. Das Startup aus Berlin, das 2017 von Till Wendler, Julia Poenitzsch, Max Thake und Leonard Dorlöchter gegründet wurde,  möchte Unternehmen dabei helfen, Prozesse zu automatisieren und Kosten einzusparen. Dafür setzt das peaq-Team auf sogenannte Distributed Ledger Technology. “Unsere dezentrale Infrastruktur transformiert das Internet der Dinge in die hyper-vernetzte Economy of Things”, verspricht das Startup. Mehrere Angel-Investoren investierten zuvor bereits 750.000 Euro in peaq.

Flow Lab
Der Berliner Kapitalgeber IBB Ventures, APX, der Frühphaseninvestor von Axel Springer und Porsche, sowie einige Business Angels investieren 1 Million Euro in das Berliner Startup Flow Lab. Die Jungfirma, die 2018 von Jonas Vossler, David Jacob und Peter Schwarz gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine individuelle Mental-Trainings-App. ”Mit Hilfe von geführten Audiosessions lernst du Schritt für Schritt, auch unter Stress produktive Höchstleistungen zu erzielen”, heißt es auf der Website. APX, die Unternehmensberatung IIC Solutions und drei Business Angels investierten zuvor bereits 285.000 Euro in Flow Lab.

Travelcircus
+++ Die Altinvestoren investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Travelcircus. Das Startup, das von 2014 von Nils Brosch, Bastian Böckenhüser, Mathias Zeitler und Robert Anders gegründet wurde, kümmert sich um “handverlesene Kurzreisepakete im DACH-Raum”. In der Vergangenheit investierten Geldgeber wie Airbridge Equity Partners, Tengelmann Ventures, MairDumont Ventures, IBB Ventures und Howzat Growth rund 7,5 Millionen Euro in die Jungfirma. 70 Mitarbeiter:innen wirkten derzeit für Travelcircus.

VENTURE CAPITAL

Emerge Accelerator
+++ Die Investoren SoftBank und Speedinvest starten mit Emerge Accelerator ein Programm für “mehr Diversität in der europäischen Tech-Branche”. Der Emerge Accelerator richtet sich gezielt an “Startups, die mindestens eine/n Gründer*in haben, der oder die sich als People of Color, weiblich, LGBTQ+, Mensch mit Behinderung oder Geflüchtete*r identifiziert”. Zu den Unterstützer:innen des Emerge Accelerators gehören Cherry Ventures, Breega, firstminute Capital und Kindred. In den USA investierte SoftBank im Rahmen der ersten Emerge-Reihe insgesamt 5 Millionen US-Dollar in 13 Startups.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#accelerator, #aktuell, #apx, #berlin, #emerge-accelerator, #fintech, #flow-lab, #ibb-ventures, #munchen, #neobroker, #peaq, #robo-advisor, #scalable-capital, #softbank, #speedinvest, #tencent, #travel, #travelcircus, #venture-capital

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European neobroker Scalable Capital raises $180M+ at a $1.4B valuation

Neobrokers — startups that are disrupting the investment industry by providing a platform for a wider range of consumers to partake in the stock market by offering them more incremental investment options and modern and easy mobile-based interfaces to manage their money — continue to see a huge amount of interest, and today comes the latest development in that story.

Scalable Capital, a Munich/Berlin startup that provides tools to monitor and manage portfolios for those investing in shares, manage trades and exchange traded funds for a flat fee of €2.99 per month, has raised over $180 million (around €150 million) to expand its business. The company confirmed to us that the investment, a Series E being led by China’s Tencent, is being done at a $1.4 billion valuation.

This is a huge jump — a lot of scaling, as it were — for Scalable Capital. It was only in July 2020, less than a year ago, that the startup raised a Series D of $58 million at a $460 million valuation.

Previous investors, including BlackRock, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and Tengelmann Ventures, also participated in this round. The company, founded in 2014 but commercially launched in 2016, has now raised more than $320 million in equity funding.

Part of the reason for the rapid fundraising is to strike while the iron is hot, and to give the startup some more fuel to grow at a time when other neobrokers are also seeing a lot of activity.

Scalable Capital itself now has 250,000 customers across Austria, Germany and the UK, more than three times the 80,000 it had back in July. At the same time, assets under management have ballooned to $5 billion (versus $2 billion in that last round). In another interesting turn, Scalable is also building out a business as a neobroker partner to many established banks, too, with the list of high-street names including ING, the British Barclays Bank, Siemens Private Finance, the digital subsidiary of the Santander Group Openbank, Oskar GmbH, and Targobank.

But while Scalable will be using some of the funding to continue expanding on the continent, it also seems that its UK business is no longer accepting new customers, We are asking whether that is temporary and Brexit-related, or another reason and will update when we have an answer.

Altogether, Scalable said that some 1,500 Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) available on the platform (these are the most popular vehicle: more than half of the assets on the platform invested in these). It also provides access to invest across some 4,000 different shares and 2,000 funds. All of these are set to grow, along with potentially launching new products, too.

“We see huge demand to invest money in the capital markets instead of leaving it in bank accounts. This comes against a backdrop of record-low interest rates, growing inflation and a widening pension gap”, says Florian Prucker, co-CEO and co-founder of Scalable Capital, in a statement. “Our clients can access fully managed globally diversified ETF portfolios and – in the same app – self directed trading in shares, ETFs, crypto currencies and funds. We also provide a market-leading offering of ETF, stocks and crypto monthly savings plans. We are planning to launch derivatives trading next. We will continue on our mission to make everyone an investor”.

In the meantime, the company is also bulking up at a time when others in the same space are doubling down, too. Last month, Trade Republic — another neobroker from Germany — announced a $900 million investment at a $5 billion valuation led by Sequoia. Other big European players that have also recently raised big expansion rounds include Amsterdam’s Bux ($80 million in April) and Vienna-based Bitpanda ($170 million in March).

Interestingly, Tencent also led that last round for Bux, a part of its bigger investment efforts both in fintech and in the region. Other big bets in Fintech have included Viva Wallet in Greece; Nubank in Brazil, which yesterday also announced a big round; N26; and Futu, a Nasdaq-listed Chinese neo-broker. It also has built out an extensive gaming empire with a string of major acquisitions, including Supercell.

“Tencent complements our existing long-term partners who already represent an international investor base. Our recent funding is a major step forward on our way to becoming the leading retail investment platform in Europe. The strong acceleration of our growth further validates our mission to empower investors”, says Erik Podzuweit, co-CEO and co-founder of Scalable Capital, in a statement. “Anyone thinking of investing money should think of Scalable Capital. Whether you want to invest yourself via our broker or want our wealth management solutions to do it for you.”

The fintech interest is particularly notable also given that Tencent is also the parent of China’s messaging behemoth WeChat, which has also made huge inroads among consumers around a range of financial services.

“Demand for accessible solutions of personal investing is increasing in European markets, particularly among millennials. Scalable Capital excels in offering its customers a convenient and cost-efficient investing experience. We are delighted to be an investor and participate in Scalable Capital’s growth”, says Danying Ma, Managing Director of Tencent Investment, in a statement.

#europe, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #germany, #neobroker, #scalable-capital

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Kafene raises $14M to offer buy now, pay later to the subprime consumer

The buy now, pay later frenzy isn’t going anywhere as more consumers seek alternatives to credit cards to fund purchases.

And those purchases aren’t exclusive to luxuries such as Pelotons (ahem, Affirm) or jewelry someone might be treating themselves to online. A new fintech company is out to help consumers finance big-ticket items that are considered more “must have” than “nice to have.” And it’s just raised $14 million in Series A funding to help it advance on that goal.

Neal Desai (former CFO of Octane Lending) and James Schuler (who participated in Y Combinator’s accelerator program as a high schooler) founded New York City-based Kafene in July 2019. The pair’s goal is to promote financial inclusion by meeting the needs of what it describes as the “consumers that are left behind by traditional lenders.”

More specifically, Kafene is focused on helping consumers with credit scores below 650 purchase retail items such as furniture, appliances and electronics with its buy now, pay later (BNPL) model. Consider it an “Affirm for the subprime,” says Desai.

Global Founders Capital and Third Prime Ventures co-led the round, which also included participation from Valar, Company.co, Hermann Capital, Gaingels, Republic Labs, Uncorrelated Ventures and FJ labs.

“Historically, if you could access credit, you could go to the bank or use a credit card,” Third Prime’s Wes Barton told TechCrunch. “But if you had some unexpected expense, and had to miss a payment with the bank, there would be repercussions and you could fall into a debt trap.”

Kafene’s “flexible ownership” model is designed to not let that happen to a consumer. If for some reason, someone has to forfeit on a payment, Kafene comes to pick up the item and the customer is no longer under obligation to pay for it moving forward.

The way it works is that Kafene buys the product from a merchant on a consumers’ behalf and rents it back to them over 12 months. If they make all payments, they own the item. If they make them earlier, they get a “significant” discount, and if they can’t, Kafene reclaims the item and takes the loan loss.

Image Credits: Kafene

It’s a modern take on Rent-A-Center, which charges more money for inferior products, Desai believes.

“This is also a superior product to credit cards, and the size of that market is massive,” Barton said. “We want to take a huge chunk of credit card business in time, and give consumers the flexibility to quit at any point in time, and fly free, if you will.”

Such flexibility, Kafene claims, helps promote financial inclusion by giving a wider range of consumers options to alternative forms of credit at the point of sale.

It also helps people boost their credit scores, according to Desai, because if they buy out of the loan earlier than the 12-month term, their credit score goes up because Kafene reports them as a positive payer.

“In any situation where they don’t steal the item, their credit score improves,” he said. “Even if they end up returning it because they can’t afford it. In the long run, they can have a better credit score to qualify for a traditional loan product.”

Kafene rolled out a beta of its financing product in December of 2019 and then had to pause in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company essentially “hibernated” from March to June 2020 and re-launched out of beta last July.

By October, Kafene stopped all enrollment with merchants because it had more demand that it could handle — largely fueled by more people being financially strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2021, the company was handling about $2 million a month in merchandise volume.

With its new capital, Kafene plans to significantly scale its existing lease-to-own financing business nationally, as well as to launch a direct-to-consumer virtual lease card.

#bank, #bnpl, #buy-now, #credit, #credit-card, #credit-score, #debt, #economy, #electronics, #finance, #fintech, #forward, #global-founders-capital, #kafene, #money, #new-york-city, #pay-later, #personal-finance, #recent-funding, #startup, #startups, #third-prime-ventures, #uncorrelated-ventures, #venture-capital, #y-combinator

0

Tiger Global leads $30M investment into Briq, a fintech for the construction industry

Briq, which has developed a fintech platform used by the construction industry,  has raised $30 million dollars in a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global Management.

The financing is among the largest Series B fundraises by a construction software startup, according to the company, and brings Briq’s total raised to $43 million since its January 2018 inception. Existing backers Eniac Ventures and Blackhorn Ventures also participated in the round.

Briq CEO and co-founder Bassem Hamdy is a former executive at construction tech giant Procore (which recently went public and has a market cap of $10.4 billion) Canadian software giant CMIC. Wall Street veteran Ron Goldshmidt is co-founder and COO.

Briq describes its offering as a financial planning and workflow automation platform that “drastically reduces” the time to run critical financial processes, while increasing the accuracy of forecasts and financial plans.

Briq has developed a toolbox of proprietary technology that it says allows it to extract and manipulate financial data without the use of APIs. It also has developed construction-specific data models that allows it to build out projections and create models of how much a project might cost, and how much could conceivably be made. Currently, Briq manages or forecasts about $30 billion in construction volume.

Specifically, Briq has two main offerings: Briq’s Corporate Performance Management (CPM) platform, which models financial outcomes at the project and corporate level and BriqCash, a construction-specific banking platform for managing invoices and payments. 

Put simply, Briq aims to allow contractors “to go from plan to pay” in one platform with the goal of solving the age-old problem of construction projects (very often) going over budget. Its longer-term, ambitious mission is to “manage 80% of the money workflows in construction within 10 years.”

The company’s strategy, so far, seems to be working.

From January 2020 to today, ARR has climbed by 200%, according to Hamdy. Briq currently has about 100 employees, compared to 35 a year ago.

Briq has 150 customers, and serves general and specialty contractors from $10 million to $1 billion in revenue.  They include Cafco Construction Management, WestCor Companies and Choate Construction and Harper Construction. The company is currently focused on contractors in North America but does have long-term plans to address larger international markets, Hamdy told TechCrunch.  

Some context

Hamdy came up with the idea for Santa Barbara, California-based Briq after realizing the vast amount of inefficiencies on the financial side of the construction industry. His goal was to do for construction financials what Procore did to document management, and PlanGrid to construction drawing. He started Briq with his own cash, amassed through secondary sales as Procore climbed the ranks of startups to become a construction industry unicorn.

Briq CEO and co-founder Bassem Hamdy

“I wanted to figure out how to bring the best of fintech into a construction industry that really guesses every month what the financial outcomes are for projects,” Hamdy told me at the time of the company’s last raise – a $10 million Series A led by Blackhorn Ventures announced in May of 2020. “Getting a handle on financial outcomes is really hard. The vast majority of the time, the forecasted cost to completion is plain wrong. By a lot.”

In fact, according to McKinsey, an astounding 80 percent of projects run over budget, resulting in significant waste and profit loss.

So at the end of a project, contractors often find themselves having doled out more money and resources than originally planned. This can lead to negative cash flow and profit loss. Briq’s platform aims to help contractors identify outliers, and which projects are more at risk.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Briq has proven to be “extremely valuable” to contractors, Hamdy said.

“In an industry where margins are so thin, we have given contractors the ability to truly understand where they stand on cash, profit and labor,” he added.

#articles, #blackhorn-ventures, #briq, #california, #construction, #construction-software, #construction-tech, #economy, #eniac-ventures, #executive, #finance, #financial-technology, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #mckinsey, #north-america, #plangrid, #procore, #recent-funding, #saas, #startups, #tiger-global-management, #venture-capital

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Emergence’s Lotti Siniscalco and Retail Zipline’s Melissa Wong will join us on Extra Crunch Live

For all that’s said about fundraising and working alongside investors, rarely do we get to see founders and their investors in candid conversation with one another. Extra Crunch Live is changing that. On the weekly live show, we sit down with founders and the VCs who funded them to talk about how they came together on the deal, what stood out about the other party that led to their commitment and how they operate today. We also (usually) take a walk through their early pitch decks to get a feel for how success starts.

On an upcoming episode of Extra Crunch Live, we’ll sit down with Emergence’s Lotti Siniscalco and Retail Zipline’s Melissa Wong to discuss all that and more. The event goes down on Wednesday, June 23 at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT. You can register to attend right here.

Siniscalco is a principal at Emergence Capital, investing in early-stage enterprise software companies. She currently serves on the board of directors at Whistic and High Alpha. Prior to Emergence, she was an investor in financial services and technology at Advent International, a PE firm, and led diligence for Ribbit Capital (also fintech focused) before that.

In other words, she’s an expert in fintech and can bring a wealth of wisdom to our conversation around fundraising and startup growth.

Melissa Wong, on the other hand, has spent 10 years in retail communications at Old Navy. It was here that she realized a problem that Zipline Retail, a retail communication and store execution platform, could solve and set out on her own venture.

Extra Crunch Live also features the ECL Pitch-off, where startups in the audience can virtually “raise their hand” to pitch their startup live on our stream. Our expert guests will give their feedback on each pitch. If you want to throw your hat in the ring, you have to show up.

Extra Crunch Live is accessible to everyone, but only Extra Crunch members can access the content on demand. We do these every week, so there are scores of episodes across a wide variety of startup sectors in the ECL Library. It’s but one of many reasons to become an Extra Crunch member. Join here.

 

#emergence-capital, #extra-crunch-live-announcement, #fintech, #lotti-siniscalco, #melissa-wong, #startups, #tc

0

Lightyear is a new stock trading app from early Wise employees

Meet Lightyear, a new London-based startup coming out of stealth today. The company is building a stock trading app with a focus on creating a truly commission-free app. In addition to waving account fees and trading fees, Lightyear doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees either — up to a certain point.

The two founders met when they were working at Wise — then known as TransferWise. That’s why it makes sense that Lightyear wants to stand out from the crowd with lower foreign exchange fees.

Martin Sokk, co-founder and CEO of Lightyear, worked at Wise between 2012 and 2017. He has held various roles, such as head of product, head of people and head of operations. Mihkel Aamer, Lightyear’s other co-founder and CTO, was an engineering lead at Wise between 2013 and 2019.

“Having spent my career in financial services, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe retail investing in Europe is still very much ‘the ugly’ — we’re talking about sneaky fees, less access and complicated products remaining as the status quo,” Martin Sokk said in a statement. “We’re building something that will change that by opening up investing up to everyone, whichever global market they want to invest in and however much they want to invest.”

As a user, you can expect a mobile app that lets you buy and sell shares and ETFs. There will be 1,500 stocks and ETFs from multiple markets at launch. Customers won’t pay any account fees, trading fees and foreign exchange fees. But there will be a limit on foreign exchange fees. After £3,000 per month, users will pay 0.35% in FX fees.

The app isn’t quite ready just yet as Lightyear is opening up a waitlist today. The product should roll out at some point during the third quarter of this year.

Image Credits: Lightyear

Lightyear has raised a $1.5 million pre-seed funding round co-led by the new unnamed fund formed by Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and Teleport co-founder Sten Tamkivi Teleport. This is their first investment through this new venture. Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn is also co-leading the found through Metaplanet. There are also several business angels participating in today’s funding round, including Checkout.com CTO Ott Kaukver, former President of Robinhood UK Wander Rutgers, and Veriff founder Kaarel Kotkas.

It’s a nice list of investors but the company will face tough competition from other startups — you’ll likely end up paying more fees if you use one of these competitors, but they’re already well established. For instance, Berlin-based stock trading app Trade Republic has recently raised $900 million. In the U.K., Freetrade has also managed to attract 600,000 users.

And yet, more importantly, Lightyear also competes with legacy brokers. Unlike in the U.S., the vast majority of retail investors still rely on traditional banks and web platforms for stock trading. There will be room for more than one company in this space. So let’s see how Lightyear executes in the coming months.

#apps, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #lightyear, #mobile, #startups, #stock-trading, #trading

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Synctera raises $33M Series A to pair fintechs with banks

Synctera, which aims to serve as a matchmaker for community banks and fintechs, has raised $33 million in a Series A round of funding led by Fin VC.

The raise comes just under six months after the fintech raised $12.4 million in a seed round of funding.

New investors Mastercard and Gaingels also participated in the latest round, which included follow-on investments from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Diagram Ventures, SciFi Ventures and Scribble Ventures. Several angel investors put money in the Series A including Omri Dahan, Marqeta’s Chief Revenue Officer, Feedzai Chairman and CEO Nuno Sebastiao and Greenlight co-founder and CEO Tim Sheehan. 

Alongside the Series A, Synctera is also announcing its commitment to the new Cap Table Coalition – which includes funding from Gaingels, Neythri Futures Fund, Plexo Capital and over 20 angels – alongside other startups by allocating 10% of all funding rounds to “traditionally marginalized,” or underrepresented, investors via an SPV. (Fellow fintech Finix led the initiative earlier this year before forming this coalition but more on that later).

“This has exposed us to find great folks who we otherwise might not have known,” said Synctera’s co-founder and CEO Peter Hazlehurst. “That’s why we pledge to reserve 10% of this round and all future rounds to diverse investors.”

In a nutshell, San Francisco-based Synctera has developed a platform designed to help facilitate partnership banking. It was founded on the premise that some community banks and credit unions are actually turning down deals with young fintechs because the relationships can be too complicated or time-consuming to manage. Synctera’s goal is to connect community banks and fintechs to streamline the process with its “Banking-as-a-Service” (BaaS) platform.

TechCrunch recently caught up with Hazlehurst, who most recently served as former head of Uber Money and previously also led development of Google Wallet and products related to its payments system.

Put simply, Synctera wants to make it easier for community banks and fintechs to partner with each other. It examines banks’ needs and then sets them up with a fintech that is best suited to meet those needs. It claims to “do the work for both parties,” managing the partnership from its back-end platform, while dealing with issues like regulatory compliance, which can be a deterrent for some companies. The process of managing, reconciling and billing banks can result in “a lot of operational overhead and complexity,” according to the company.

The company says it’s built a “diverse” marketplace of banks and fintech companies so that it can apply a “personalized touch to each match” and make sure that the parties “align on geography, brand ethos, and desired business goals.”

So far, Synctera has signed three banks with plans to sign on three more this month. The startup has already paired Coastal Community Bank – a local bank serving the greater Puget Sound community – with One, a new digital banking platform, and Ellevest, a new fintech. 

By using Synctera’s platform, the company claims, banks can more freely allow their fintech counterparts to offer FDIC-insured mobile checking, debit cards, savings accounts or innovations in payments to their prospective customers, the company claims. They can also make more money doing so, Hazlehurst said, by bringing in more revenue beyond interchange fees.

“Like most small businesses, community banks have been hit hard by COVID-19,” he added. “We hope to further diversify community banks’ revenue streams.”

Banks can also more easily manage multiple relationships with various fintechs as the companies agree to adopt Synctera’s tech stack, the company claims.

“We build a single dashboard for a bank, so there’s a consolidated position across all fintechs,” Hazlehurst told me at the time of the company’s last raise. “It’s all about visibility for the bank.”

Currently Synctera has about 50 employees, including about two dozen engineers, most of whom are located in Canada, Hazlehurst said. The company plans to ramp up to 160 employees by year’s end with a focus on engineering, sales, marketing and customer success staff.

Looking ahead, Hazlehurst predicts that the fourth quarter will be “all about support for small business fintechs.”

“We want to create a neobank for gig economy workers, and want to add lending as a service,” he said. “But our next big phase is to onboard a lot of fintechs, and learn from them.”

Logan Allin, managing general partner and founder at Fin VC, believes that Banking-as-a-Service in general will transform legacy national and regional banks, credit unions, fintecs, corporate tech and retailers alike “as these players either seek to vertically integrate financial services or accelerate their digitization process.”

Synctera, he adds, has taken an approach with its tech stack that allows for integration with legacy community banks and their respective cores. This, Allin believes, will help ensure a “cloud native and scalable model” and made it an attractive investment. (Fin VC has also backed the likes of other fintechs such as Pipe and SoFi).

“Synctera’s peers are simply abstracting bank cores and serving as ‘API wrappers’ in a kludgy short-term approach and having come from the legacy bank and modern fintech worlds, we recognized that these players had not built sufficiently strong bridges across the ecosystem,” Allin told TechCrunch.

For his part, Finix Founder Richie Serna is thrilled that other startups are following his lead in the pledge to make their cap tables more diverse.

“After Finix announced our special purpose vehicle for Black and Latinx investors, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” he told TechCrunch. “Startups in every sector and at every stage have asked us how to recreate our SPV. In response, we started the Cap Table Coalition to make it as easy as possible for more high-growth startups, like Synctera, to take control over their cap tables,” said Richie Serna, CEO and co-founder of Finix. “We see this as an inflection point that will completely upend how the VC world functions.”

Meanwhile, Synctera is not the only player trying to help banks and fintechs forge partnerships. Last week, TechCrunch reported on Visa said it has expanded its Visa Fintech Partner Connect program, which is designed to help financial institutions quickly connect with a “vetted and curated” set of technology providers. 

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Yieldstreet raises $100M as it mulls going public via SPAC, eyes acquisitions

These days, investing goes way beyond the stock market. And in recent years there’s been a growing number of startups which aim to give more people access to a wider array of investment opportunities. Today, one of those startups has raised a significant round of funding to help it achieve its goals.

Yieldstreet — which provides a platform for making alternative investments in areas like real estate, marine/shipping, legal finance, commercial loans and other opportunities that were previously only open to institutional investors — announced Tuesday that it has raised $100 million in a Series C funding round.

Former E*TRADE CEO Mitch Caplan, of Tarsadia Investments, led the round. Other participants include Alex Brown (a division of Raymond James), Kingfisher Capital, Top Tier Capital Partners and Gaingels. Existing backers Edison Partners, Soros Fund Management, Greenspring Associates, Raine Ventures, Greycroft and Expansion Capital also put money in the round, which brings Yieldstreet’s total raised to $278.5 million since its 2015 inception.

Milind Mehere and Michael Weisz co-founded Yieldstreet with the mission of making investing more inclusive for non-institutional investors. In an interview with TechCrunch, CEO Mehere declined to say at what valuation the Series C was raised other than to say “near unicorn.”

What he did share is that Yieldstreet has funded nearly $1.9 billion on its platform and has about 300,000 consumers signed up on its platform. That’s up from $600 million invested on its platform from more than 100,000 members in February 2019, at the time of its last raise. Also since that time, Yieldstreet has seen its investor base climb by 350%, he said. And this year, the company is expecting “over 50% revenue growth,” compared to 2020.

Image Credits: Yieldstreet

Since its inception, Yieldstreet says it has provided nearly more than $950 million in principal and interest payments to its investors.

And, both the number of investment requests and new investors surged by more than 250% from January to April 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, with new investors already exceeding all of last year, according to the company.

Mehere also shared that Yieldstreet is considering going public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition vehicle) sometime in the next year or two.

“We are growing extremely fast and a few SPACs have approached us,” he told TechCrunch. “We are on a great path to potentially explore some of those options in the next 12 to 24 months. I think the public markets would be great for a company like Yieldstreet, purely because that gives you the visibility to expand your consumer growth but also gives you access to equity to pursue growth strategies such as potential acquisitions and other things.”

So far, Yieldstreet has acquired two companies (both in 2019): WealthFlex and Athena Art Finance. 

Some context

At a very high level, Yieldstreet aims to give consumers access to invest in asset classes outside of the stock market.

“These are investments that generate passive income. For example, we do a bunch of things in real estate such as financing warehouses, multifamily and distribution centers,” Mehere told TechCrunch. “We also do art, auto loans or equipment finance. These are typically investments done by institutions and what we’re trying to do is really fractionalize them and get them to real estate investors. A lot of this stuff is asset-backed and it’s generating cash flow.”

In an effort to help people understand just exactly what they’re putting their money into, Yieldstreet aims to provide “a ton of investor education,” Mehere added, in the form of content such as articles, blog posts and infographics.

The company also aims to have its portfolios working “around the clock” to automatically apply earned income toward everyday expenses — a concept conceived by Mahere as “self-driving money.”

Yieldstreet will use its new capital to expand its user base, develop new investment products, explore international expansion and pursue strategic acquisitions, according to Mehere. Outside of its New York City headquarters, Yieldstreet also has offices in Brazil, Greece and Malta.

“Alternative investing has generally been restricted to very high net worth individuals. This is not just a U.S. problem, but a worldwide one. In Europe, especially, it is exacerbated by a negative interest rate,” he said. “So it’s even more compelling to them to tap into U.S. assets.” As such, Yieldstreet plans to expand into Europe and Asia as part of its growth strategy.

Tarsadia Investments (and former E*TRADE CEO) President Caplan believes the company is “uniquely positioned” to “achieve significant growth in revenue while ultimately achieving tremendous scale.”

“Everything begins and ends with the management team,” he told TechCrunch. “Yieldstreet’s management team’s vision for the future of digital investing aligned perfectly with that of our organization at Tarsadia. Yieldstreet is building the future of investing.”

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