SoBanHang gets $1.5M to help small Vietnamese stores sell online for the first time

A few months ago, brothers Hai Nam Bui and Hai Long Bui were developing a bookkeeping app for small retailers in Vietnam. Called SoBanHang (or “sales book”), it would help businesses that usually rely on paper ledgers digitize their operations, similar to Khatabook in India and BukuKas and BukuWarung in Indonesia. Then a new COVID-19 outbreak hit Vietnam. The businesses SoBanHang had been working with, which are often family owned and have less than five employees, struggled to cope. The team held a hackathon and came up with a new product for retailers to create online stores and manage orders. Since launching three months ago, SoBanHang’s “hyper local e-commerce enabler” has signed up almost 20,000 merchants, many selling online for the first time.

The company announced today that it has raised $1.5 million in seed funding, with participation from investors including FEBE Ventures, Class 5 and Kevin P. Ryan, founder of businesses like Gilt Groupe, Business Insider and MongoDB.

Before launching SoBanHang, Hai Nam Bui founded Datamart Solutions, a data analytics and automation platform, and served leadership roles at Lazada. Hai Long Bui also spent several years in management at Lazada, before holding the chief analytics and chief technology officer positions at Landers Superstore, a Philippines supermarket chain.

The idea for SoBanHang was planted when Hai Nam Bui visited a grocery store while wearing a Lazada T-shirt. The store’s owners saw the shirt and asked him how they could start selling online. So he helped them register an account on Shoppe and start uploading product photos and descriptions.

“After I had everything set up, they got their first order and asked, ‘how can I ship the product?’” Hai told TechCrunch. “I said that a third-party logistics provider will come and pick up the goods. And then they asked about the money. They didn’t understand the process and they didn’t feel comfortable giving goods to a third-party logistics providers.”

A photo of a merchant in Vietnam looking at a smartphone

One of SoBanHang’s clients

Since the majority of e-commerce orders in Vietnam are paid through cash on deliveries, the store’s owners also had questions about payment. Hai explained that the customer would hand cash to the rider, who would then give it to Shoppe and, in turn, Shopee would deposit it into the store owner’s digital wallet.

“And they asked ‘where is the wallet? How can I withdraw money to a bank account if I don’t have a bank account?’ That was an a-ha moment, when I realized that a lot of e-commerce platforms are still not touchable to about 90% of retailers in Vietnam,” said Hai. “The systems are still way too complex for them.”

Hai and his brothers started working on a digital bookkeeping app to help businesses digitize their operations, but when the outbreak and lockdowns hit, it became imperative to help them start selling online immediately. Based on SoBanHang’s research, there are about 16 million “nano” to micro-sized businesses in Vietnam. Many are very local, serving customers within a couple kilometers. In fact, businesses on SoBanHang often perform their own deliveries on foot.

“That was our second a-ha moment about the retailers, which is that they are selling to customers in their neighborhoods. The buyers and sellers are actually within walking distance. When they connect with buyers, they can make that order transaction, and then retailers deliver the good themselves and collect the money at the customer’s doorstep,” said Hai. This eliminates the need for SoBanHang to have complex logistics or payment systems, or for merchants to use third-party delivery apps that charge high commission fees.

Many of SoBanHang’s clients previously managed most of their transactions on paper and didn’t have a point-of-sale system or laptop, so the app is the first time they have digitized their operations. SoBanHang can be used for all kinds of retailers, but during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s seen the most adoption from food and convenience stores.

The retailers are small enough that their customers can just message them orders, but SoBanHang makes the process smoother and enables them to sell more. Having an online storefront also helps prepare retailers for other COVID-19 outbreaks and maintain relationships with their customers.

For example, SoBanHang has a strategic partnership with Viettel, the largest telecommunications company in Vietnam. This lets them offer discounted SMS to businesses so customers can see special offers even if they haven’t installed SoBanHang’s app and don’t get its push notifications. For example, if a grocery store wants to sell out their inventory of fresh fish, they can send out a text blast to shoppers.

After lockdown restrictions are lifted, Hai said SoBanHang can help small retailers continue competing against larger players like supermarket and convenience store chains. Their advantage is that “they have a very good relationship with their customers, they know them well and they sit and wait for their customers to come. We want to turn that relationship into a new sales strategy for them.”

In the future, SoBanHang plans to continue working on its original plans for bookkeeping app. Like other bookkeeping apps, it plans to add financial services, like working capital loans that can be disbursed even without a digital wallet or bank account. But in the near-future, the startup will continue helping small retailer sell online for the first time.

#asia, #bookkeeping, #e-commerce, #fundings-exits, #small-retailers, #smes, #sobanhang, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #vietnam

Atera raises $77M at a $500M valuation to help SMBs manage their remote networks like enterprises do

When it comes to software to help IT manage workers’ devices wherever they happen to be, enterprises have long been spoiled for choice — a situation that has come in especially handy in the last 18 months, when many offices globally have gone remote and people have logged into their systems from home. But the same can’t really be said for small and medium enterprises: as with so many other aspects of tech, they’ve long been overlooked when it comes to building modern IT management solutions tailored to their size and needs.

But there are signs of that changing. Today, a startup called Atera that has been building remote, and low-cost, predictive IT management solutions specifically for organizations with less than 1,000 employees, is announcing a funding round of $77 million — a sign of the demand in the market, and Atera’s own success in addressing it. The investment values Atera at $500 million, the company confirmed.

The Tel Aviv-based startup has amassed some 7,000 customers to date, managing millions of endpoints — computers and other devices connected to them — across some 90 countries, providing real-time diagnostics across the datapoints generated by those devices to predict problems with hardware, software and network, or with security issues.

Atera’s aim is to use the funding both to continue building out that customer footprint, and to expand its product — specifically adding more functionality to the AI that it currently uses (and for which Atera has been granted patents) to run predictive analytics, one of the technologies that today are part and parcel of solutions targeting larger enterprises but typically are absent from much of the software out there aimed at SMBs.

“We are in essence democratizing capabilities that exist for enterprises but not for the other half of the economy, SMBs,” said Gil Pekelman, Atera’s CEO, in an interview.

The funding is being led by General Atlantic, and it is notable for being only the second time that Atera has ever raised money — the first was earlier this year, a $25 million round from K1 Investment Management, which is also in this latest round. Before this year, Atera, which was founded in 2016, turned profitable in 2017 and then intentionally went out of profit in 2019 as it used cash from its balance sheet to grow. Through all of that, it was bootstrapped. (And it still has cash from that initial round earlier this year.)

As Pekelman — who co-founded the company with Oshri Moyal (CTO) — describes it, Atera’s approach to remote monitoring and management, as the space is typically called, starts first with software clients installed at the endpoints that connect into a network, which give IT managers the ability to monitor a network, regardless of the actual physical range, as if it’s located in a single office. Around that architecture, Atera essentially monitors and collects “datapoints” covering activity from those devices — currently taking in some 40,000 datapoints per second.

To be clear, these datapoints are not related to what a person is working on, or any content at all, but how the devices behave, and the diagnostics that Atera amasses and focuses on cover three main areas: hardware performance, networking and software performance and security. Through this, Atera’s system can predict when something might be about to go wrong with a machine, or why a network connection might not be working as it should, or if there is some suspicious behavior that might need a security-oriented response. It supplements its work in the third area with integrations with third-party security software — Bitdefender and Acronis among them — and by issuing updated security patches for devices on the network.

The whole system is built to be run in a self-service way. You buy Atera’s products online, and there are no salespeople involved — in fact most of its marketing today is done through Facebook and Google, Pekelman said, which is one area where it will continue to invest. This is one reason why it’s not really targeted larger enterprises (the others are the level of customization that would be needed; as well as more sophisticated service level agreements). But it is also the reason why Atera is so cheap: it costs $89 per month per IT technician, regardless of the number of endpoints that are being managed.

“Our constituencies are up to 1,000 employees, which is a world that was in essence quite neglected up to now,” Pekelman said. “The market we are targeting and that we care about are these smaller guys and they just don’t have tools like these today.” Since model is $89 dollars per month per technician using the software, it means that a company with 500 people with four technicians is paying $356 per month to manage their networks, peanuts in the greater scheme of IT services, and one reason why Atera has caught on as more and more employees have gone remote, and are looking like they will stay that way.

And the fact that this model is thriving is also one of the reason and investors are interested.

“Atera has developed a compelling all-in-one platform that provides immense value for its customer base, and we are thrilled to be supporting the company in this important moment of its growth trajectory,” said Alex Crisses, MD, Global Head of New Investment Sourcing and Co-Head of Emerging Growth at General Atlantic, in a statement. “We are excited to work with a category-defining Israeli company, extending General Atlantic’s presence in the country’s cutting-edge technology sector and marking our fifth investment in the region. We look forward to partnering with Gil, Oshri, and the Atera team to help the company realize its vision.”

#atera, #endpoint-security, #enterprise, #europe, #funding, #it, #remote-device-management, #remote-monitor-tech, #remote-monitoring, #remote-working, #small-businesses, #smbs, #smes

Indonesian B2B marketplace GudangAda raises more than $100M in new funding

A photo of GudangAda founder and chief executive officer Stevensang

GudangAda founder and chief executive officer Stevensang

GudangAda, a Jakarta-based marketplace that brings wholesalers closer to retail stores and other buyers, announced it has closed a Series B of more than $100 million. The company says the round was oversubscribed, passing its initial target of $75 million. The funding was led by Asia Partners and Falcon Edge, with participation from Sequoia Capital India, Alpha JWC and Wavemaker Partners.

This brings GudangAda’s total raised so far to about $135 million. Its last funding was a $25.4 million Series A last year, led by Sequoia Capital India and JWC Alpha Ventures.

Founded in January 2019, GudangAda is now used by half a million SMEs and covers 500 cities in Indonesia. Before raising its Series B, it had already grown to $6 billion in net merchandise value on $35 million of funding. Principal manufacturers and distributors on the platform range include food products company Sido Muncul, seasoning maker Sasa and British multinational consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser.

Founder and chief executive officer Stevensang spent more than 25 years in Indonesia’s fast-moving consumer goods and retail industries before starting GudangAda. Over the past 10 years, Stevensang told TechCrunch that logistics costs in Indonesia have increased to among the highest in the world, impacting the whole supply chain, especially SME buyers.

GudangAda helps lower operational costs by connecting principal manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and handling almost all aspects of B2B buying, including deliveries. Its mobile app includes a point-of-sale system and it can also be used to manage orders, track logistics and make payments.

Stevensang said GudangAda focuses on several things to make buying inventory easier for SMEs. One is optimizing inventory turnover to increase working capital for businesses on the platform. The company also provides market research and data for products and gives retailers a large selection of goods. Being connected to multiple suppliers on the same platform also lets small retail stores that sell a large selection of items, but don’t have the buying volume to order directly from distributors, to purchase inventory at competitive costs.

To keep logistics costs down, GudangAda partners with third-party vehicle and warehouse providers to build its coverage throughout Indonesia. For its logistics partners, it provides transportation and warehouse management systems to help them digitize their operations.

GudangAda also partners with banks to provide working capital for SMEs, enabling them to apply for loans using their data on the platform.

The funding will be used to expand GudangAda’s product categories, which now include fast-moving consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, packaging, homeware and stationery. It also plans to develop AI-based tools that can provide personalized recommendations for merchant customers. For example, during COVID-19, the platform suggested how much disinfectants a store should stock.

In a statement, Falcon Edge co-founder Navroz D. Udwadia said, “GudangAda is definitively the largest SME e-commerce marketplace in Indonesia with best-in-class metrics. Our research and conversations with stakeholders (principals, wholesalers and retailers) has given us confidence on GudangAda’s distinctive ROI and value addition to the entire ecosystem.”

#asia, #asia-partners, #b2b-marketplace, #falcon-edge, #fundings-exits, #gudangada, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #supply-chain, #tc

Employment Hero gets $140M AUD Series E led by Insight Partners, grows valuation to $800M AUD

A photo of Employment Hero co-founders Ben Thompson and Dave Tong

Employment Hero co-founders Ben Thompson and Dave Tong

Four months after announcing its last round, Employment Hero has closed another $140 million AUD (about $103 million USD) in funding. The Series E was led by Insight Partners, the venture capital firm known for its ScaleUp program to help tech companies accelerate their growth.

Employment Hero is an automated human resources, payroll and benefits platform for SMEs. Founded in Sydney in 2014, the company is now expanding into Southeast Asian and Western European markets. Its previous funding announcement was a $45 million AUD Series D announced in March, led by online job platform SEEK, at the company’s previous valuation of about $250 million AUD.

Now Employment Hero has bumped up its valuation $800 million in less than six months by reaching 133% year-on- recurring revenue growth. Co-founded by Ben Thompson, its chief executive officer, and chief technology officer Dave Tong, Employment Hero is used by 6,000 businesses, with a total of 250,000 employees. Over the past 12 months, the company says $14 billion in gross wages was processed through the platform.

“We always thought Insight Partners would be a great partner,” Thompson told TechCrunch. “We had been speaking with them for years, so when they asked if we would consider raising, we agreed it was definitely worth exploring. As it turned out all the stars were aligned, and we reached a deal that made sense and allowed us to keep scaling without having to switch back into capital raising mode.”

Over the past year, Employment Hero grew its headcount by 65% to 325 full-time employees and now has a permanent remote-first work model. The new capital will be used to hire for its engineering teams and for the company’s continuing international expansion.

Employment Hero began entering new markets in October 2020, launching localized versions of the platform in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore.

Thompson said Employment Hero will continue focusing on Malaysia and Singapore until the end of this year, while looking at ways to cross-promote SEEK’s products and services in Asia. After that, it plans to localize Employment Hero for Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

To localize the platform, Employment Hero starts with employment contracts, policies, leave rules and pay rules. Then it integrates with tax authorities and pension funds, before focusing on local benefits providers to get discounts on non-discretionary expenses for users, like health insurance and mortgages.

During the pandemic, Thompson said Employment Hero’s teams shifted their focus to help companies adapt to a distributed workforce. Some of the services it launched include Global Teams, a professional employer organization (PEO) solution that pushes job openings to more than 1,700 career boards and helps companies onboard and manage remote workers. Employment Hero is also working with recruitment agencies that will help employers find remote workers.

Thompson said, “while it’s still early days for Global Teams, it’s definitely popular,” with dozens of companies in Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand using it to employ people in 21 countries.

Employment Hero’s Remote Work Report, released in June, found that 94% of respondents want to continue working remotely at least one day a week, up from 2% a year ago. Meanwhile, 74% of employers surveyed told Employment Hero that they plan to keep flexible working arrangements after COVID restrictions are lifted, up from 64% in 2020.

“We are seeing employers embrace remote work as a competitive advantage because it broadens their available talent pool and helps retain and engage their employees,” Thompson said. “Employers are now asking, how should we do things differently if we want to continue working remotely forever? This requires real intention and education, but it’s a whole lot better than losing great employees by forcing them back to office five days a week.”

In a statement about the investment, Insight Partners managing director Rachel Geller said, “We have been following Employment Hero’s journey for four years and have seen the impressive and consistent growth experience by the company. Its customer-centric solutions have been embraced globally by the small and medium business community and we are looking forward to supporting them through this next phase of their expansion journey.”

#asia, #australia, #employee-management, #employment-hero, #fundings-exits, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Vara raises $4.8M from investors like Go Ventures and Sequoia India’s Surge to digitize Indonesian SMEs’ payrolls

A Zoom group screenshot of Vara's team

Staff management platform Vara’s team

If you follow startup news from Indonesia, you know that the country’s estimated 60 million small businesses are a hot target for tech companies. BukuKas and BukuWarung, for example, both recently raised large rounds to fuel their race to digitize SMEs’ operations. Founded in November 2020, Vara is focused specifically on making staff management easier for small businesses and their workers, replacing the notebooks or spreadsheets many relied on to keep track of payroll with an app called Bukugaji.

The company announced today it has raised $4.8 million in seed funding from Go Ventures, RTP Global, AlphaJWC, Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, FEBE Ventures and Taurus Ventures. Founded by Vidush Mahansaria and Abhinav Karale, who met while studying at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Vara is part of the Surge accelerator program’s fifth cohort of startups. It says more than 100,000 small businesses are already using Bukugaji.

The app has features to track attendance, calculate salaries and worker loans and disburse payroll. Mahansaria told TechCrunch that Bukugaji is aimed at companies that have less than 30 employees. Many of them are in retail, food and beverage or labor-heavy service sectors like construction and transportation. Bukugaji has features for specific employee segments, like operational staff who usually work in shifts, or permanent staff whose paychecks are fixed over a specific time period.

“Before downloading and onboarding on Bukugaji, the vast majority of our users utilized notebooks to mark attendance and track payroll,” Mahansaria said. “A small portion used the notes features on their phones or simple Excel sheets.” Bukugaji is designed to be fully self-service, so businesses can download and start using the app on their own. Its main app is mobile only, but the platform also has a web version.

The businesses Bukugaji serves often have workers who are unbanked, meaning they don’t have access to a bank account or traditional financial services. Vara’s founders say many of them live paycheck to paycheck and this means they sometimes have to take out loans from their employers.

“Employees often request cash advances from their employers toward the end of the month, when they need the money the most because sometimes they can’t make ends meet,” said Mahansaria. “This has two outcomes: first, it ties up working capital for the employer. Second, it makes the employee increasingly reliant on the employer to meet emergency needs. It’s hard to break out of this cycle given the current limited accessibility to formal financial infrastructure for this market segment.”

Earned wage access (EWA) platforms are focused on solving this problem by giving employees on-demand access to wages, instead of having to wait for their paycheck. EWA companies are gaining traction around the world, including Wagely and GajiGesa in Indonesia. Vara doesn’t have immediate plans to add an EWA feature to Bukugaji, but it is something the company is thinking about as part of the value-additive services it will build into the platform.

“Owning end-to-end payroll and attendance gives us an information edge that is unparalleled for this labor segment,” Mahansaria said, noting that the data can enable companies to add things like benefits that their employees usually don’t have access to, and in turn give workers a digitally-verified work history.

In the near future, Bukugaji will add time-saving features like automated allowances and overtime, dashboard shortcuts, reminders and customizable reports. It also plans to allow employers to disburse salaries directly through the platform. Over the longer term, Bukugaji will offer data analytics to companies and their workers. For example, employees will also be able to see how their earnings have changed over time. Employers, meanwhile can spot trends in attendance and salary.

Though Vara may eventually expand into markets, Mahansaria said it is currently “razor-focused on Indonesia,” where SMEs account for about 60% of the country’s gross domestic product and employ the vast majority of its workforce.

#asia, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #payroll, #smes, #southeast-asia, #staff-management, #startups, #tc, #vara

Australian fintech Zeller lands $50M AUD led by Spark Capital at a $400M AUD valuation

Zeller, a Melbourne-based fintech founded by former Square executives to serve small- to mid-sized businesses, has raised $50 million AUD (about $37.5 million USD) led by Spark Capital, the investment firm whose portfolio also includes Twitter, Slack and Coinbase. Zeller’s valuation is now $400 million AUD (about $301 million USD).

The funding included participation from returning investors Square Peg, Apex Capital Partners and Addition, and brings Zeller’s total raised in under a year to $81 million AUD. This amount includes a pre-launch Series A led by Addition, the investment firm started by Lee Fixel, and seed funding.

Zeller was founded last year by Ben Pfisterer, Square’s former Asia Pacific and Australia head, and Dominic Yap, the fintech’s former strategy and growth lead. The company launched its first products for small businesses on May 4, including EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point of sale) terminals, business accounts and cards.

The company says more than 1,500 Australian businesses signed up in the month after its launch, and weekly payment volume has been growing 200%. About 80% of businesses who started using Zeller switched from Australia’s four biggest banks, citing their desire for lower fees and better customer support.

Zeller’s new funding will be used to grow its research and engineering hub, including filling 18 new engineering roles that will support Zeller’s plan to become a fully-regulated business bank.

In a press statement, Spark Capital investor James Kuklinski said, “From our first meeting with Ben, we knew we wanted to be a part of Zeller. Australia’s business banking landscape is dominated by a small group of incumbents, and is ripe for disruption through simpler, more transparent pricing, best-in-class technology and better customer service.”

 

#australia, #business-bank, #eftpos, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #melbourne, #smes, #startups, #tc, #zeller

DataRails books $25M more to build better financial reporting tools for SMBs

As enterprise startups continue to target interesting gaps in the market, we’re seeing increasingly sophisticated tools getting built for small and medium businesses — traditionally a tricky segment to sell to, too small for large enterprise tools, and too advanced in their needs for consumer products. In the latest development of that trend, an Israeli startup called DataRails has raised $25 million to continue building out a platform that lets SMBs using Excel to run financial planning and analytics like their larger counterparts.

The funding closes out the company’s Series A at $43.5 million, after the company initially raised $18.5 million in April (some at the time reported this as its Series A, but it seems the round had yet to be completed). The full round includes Zeev Ventures, Vertex Ventures Israel, and Innovation Endeavors, with Vintage Investment Partners added in this most recent tranche. DataRails is not disclosing its valuation, except to note that it has doubled in the last four months, with hundreds of customers and on target to cross 1,000 this year, with a focus on the North American market. It has raised $55 million in total. 

The challenge that DataRails has identified is that on one hand, SMBs have started to adopt a lot more apps, including software delivered as a service, to help them manage their businesses — a trend that has been accelerated in the last year with the pandemic and the knock-on effect that has had for remote working and bringing more virtual elements to replace face-to-face interactions. Those apps can include Salesforce, NetSuite, Sage, SAP, QuickBooks, Zuora, Xero, ADP and more.

But on the other hand, those in the business who manage its finances and financial reporting are lacking the tools to look at the data from these different apps in a holistic way. While Excel is a default application for many of them, they are simply reading lots of individual spreadsheets rather than integrated data analytics based on the numbers.

DataRails has built a platform that can read the reported information, which typically already lives in Excel spreadsheets, and automatically translate it into a bigger picture view of the company.

For SMEs, Excel is such a central piece of software, yet such a pain point for its lack of extensibility and function, that this predicament was actually the germination of starting DataRails in the first place,

Didi Gurfinkel, the CEO who co-founded the company with Eyal Cohen (the CPO) said that DataRails’ initially set out to create a more general purpose product that could help analyze and visualize anything from Excel.

“We started the company with a vision to save the world from Excel spreadsheets,” he said, by taking them and helping to connect the data contained within them to a structured database. “The core of our technology knows how to take unstructured data and map that to a central database.” Before 2020, DataRails (which was founded in 2015) applied this to a variety of areas with a focus on banks, insurance companies, compliance and data integrity.

Over time, it could see a very specific application emerging, specifically for SMEs: providing a platform for FP&A (financial planning and analytics), which didn’t really have a solution to address it at the time. “So we enabled that to beat the market.”

“They’re already investing so much time and money in their software, but they still don’t have analytics and insight,” said Gurfinkel.

That turned out to be fortunate timing, since “digital transformation” and getting more out of one’s data was really starting to get traction in the world of business, specifically in the world of SMEs, and CFOs and other people who oversaw finances were already looking for something like this.

The typical DataRails customer might be as small as a business of 50 people, or as big as 1,000 employees, a size of business that is too small for enterprise solutions, “which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to implement and use,” added Cohen, among other challenges. But as with so many of the apps that are being built today to address those using Excel, the idea with DataRails is low-code or even more specifically no-code, which means “no IT in the loop,” he said.

“That’s why we are so successful,” he said. “We are crossing the barrier and making our solution easy to use.”

The company doesn’t have a huge number of competitors today, either, although companies like Cube (which also recently raised some money) are among them. And others like Stripe, while currently not focussing on FP&A, have most definitely been expanding the tools that it is providing to businesses as part of their bigger play to manage payments and subsequently other processes related to financial activity, so perhaps it, or others like it, might at some point become competitors in this space as well.

In the meantime, Gurfinkel said that other areas that DataRails is likely to expand to cover alongside FP&A are likely to include HR, inventory, and “planning for anything,” any process that you have running in Excel. Another interesting turn would be how and if DataRails decides to look beyond Excel at other spreadsheets, or bypass spreadsheets altogether.

The scope of the opportunity — in the U.S. alone there are more than 30 million small businesses — is what’s attracting the investment here.

“We’re thrilled to reinvest in DataRails and continue working with the team to help them navigate their recent explosive and rapid growth,” said Yanai Oron, General Partner at Vertex Ventures, in a statement. “With innovative yet accessible technology and a tremendous untapped market opportunity, DataRails is primed to scale and become the leading FP&A solution for SMEs everywhere.”

“Businesses are constantly about to start, in the midst of, or have just finished a round of financial reporting—it’s a never-ending cycle,” added Oren Zeev, founding partner at Zeev Ventures. “But with DataRails, FP&A can be simple, streamlined, and effective, and that’s a vision we’ll back again and again.”

#datarails, #enterprise, #europe, #excel, #finance, #financial-planning, #fpa, #funding, #low-code, #no-code, #smbs, #smes

Novo, a neobank for SMBs, banks $41M

Small businesses have traditionally been underserved when it comes to IT — they are too big and have too many requirements that can’t be met by consumer products, yet are much too small to afford, implement or thoroughly need apps and other IT build for larger enterprises. But when it comes to neobanks, it feels like there is no shortage of options for the SMB market, nor venture funding being invested to help them grow.

In the latest development, Novo, a neobank that has built a service targeting small businesses, has closed a round of $40.7 million, a Series A that it will be using to continue growing its business, and its platform.

The funding is being led by Valar Ventures with Crosslink Capital, Rainfall Ventures, Red Sea Ventures, and BoxGroup all also participating. The startup is not disclosing valuation but Novo — originally founded in New York in 2018 but now based out of Miami — has racked up 100,000 SMB customers — which it defines as businesses that make between $25,000 and $100,000 in annualized revenues — and has seen $1 billion in lifetime transactions, with growth accelerating in the last couple of years.

There are a wide variety of options for small businesses these days when it comes to going for a banking solution. They include staying with traditional banks (which are starting to add an increasing number of services and perks to retain small business customers), as well as a variety of fintechs — other neobanks, like Novo — that are building banking and related financial tools to cater to startups and other small businesses.

Just doing a quick search, some of the others targeting the sector include Rho, NorthOne, Lili, Mercury, Brex, Hatch, Anna, Tide, Viva Wallet, Open, and many more (and you could argue also players like Amazon, offering other money management and spending tools similar to what neobanks are providing). Some of these are not in the U.S., and some are geared more at startups, or freelancers, but taken together they speak to the opportunity and also the attention that it is getting from the tech industry right now.

As CEO and co-founder Michael Rangel — who hails from Miami — described it to me, one of the key differentiators with Novo is that it’s approaching SMB banking from the point of view of running a small business. By this, he means that typically SMBs are already using a lot of other finance software — on average seven apps per business — to manage their books, payments and other matters, and so Novo has made it easier by way of a “drag and drop” dashboard where an SMB can integrate and view activity across all of those apps in one place. There are “dozens” of integrations currently, he said, and more are being added.

This is the first step, he said. The plan is to build more technology so that the activity between different apps can also be monitored, and potentially automated

“We’re able to see this is your balance and what you should expect,” he said. “The next frontier is to marry the incoming with outgoing. We’re using the funding to build that, and it’s on the roadmap in next six months.”

Novo has yet to bring cash advances or other lending products into its platform, although those too are on the roadmap, but it is also listening to its customers and watching what they want to do on the platform — another reason why it’s clever to make it easy to for those customers to integrate other services into Novo: not only does that solve a pain point for the customer, but it becomes a pretty clear indicator of what customers are doing, and how you could better cater to that.

Listening to the customers is in itself becoming a happy challenge, it seems. Novo launched quietly enough — between 2018 and the end of 2019, it had picked up only 5,000 accounts. But all that changed during 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, which Rangel describes as “just hockey stick growth. We grew like crazy.”

The reason, he said, is a classic example of why incumbent banks have to catch up with the times. Everyone was locked down at home, and suddenly a lot of people who were either furloughed or laid off were “spinning up businesses,” he said, and that led to many of them needing to open bank accounts. But those who tried to do this with high-street banks were met with a pretty significant barrier: you had to go into the bank in person to authenticate yourself, but either the banks were closed, or people didn’t want to travel to them. That paved the way for Novo (and others) to cater to them.

Its customer numbers shot up to 24,000 in the year.

Then other market forces have also helped it. You might recall that banking app Simple was shut down by BBVA ahead of its merger with PNC; but at the same time, it also shut down Azlo, it’s small business banking service. That led to a significant number of users migrating to other services, and Novo got a huge windfall out of that, too.

In the last six months, Novo grew four-fold, and Rangel attributed a lot of that to ex-Azloans looking for a new home.

The fact that there are so many SMB banking providers out there might mean competition, but it also means fragmentation, and so if a startup emerges that seems to be catching on, it’s going to catch something else, too: the eye of investors.

“The ability of the Novo team to grow the company rapidly during a year where businesses have faced unprecedented challenges is impressive,” said Andrew McCormack, founding partner at Valar Ventures, the firm co-founded by Peter Thiel, another big figure in fintech. “Novo tripled its small business customer base in the first half of 2021! Their custom infrastructure and banking platform put them in prime position to expand their services at an even faster pace as we come out of the health crisis. All of us at Valar Ventures are excited to join this team.”

#banking, #enterprise, #finance, #funding, #neobank, #smbs, #smes

Corporate services “super app” Osome lands $16M Series A

Osome, a startup that combines multiple corporate services for SMEs into one “super app,” has raised a $16 million Series A. The round included returning investors Target Global, AltaIR Capital and Phystech Ventures, and new backers S16VC and venture capitalist Peng T. Ong, who joined as an angel investor.

The Singapore-based startup’s last funding round was $3 million announced in November. Its Series A brings Osome’s total funding since it was founded in 2017 to $24.5 million. It now claims to be used by 6,000 companies in Singapore, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, giving it $9.5 million in annual recurring revenue and 100% year-over-year revenue growth.

Its Series A will be used on international expansion and product integrations. Osome, which employs a total of 200 people, has seen fast adoption by e-commerce companies in particular, and plans to launch more products and apps for the sector over the next 18 months.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Victor Lysenko told TechCrunch that the company started “looking at the e-commerce segment some time ago, but wanted to be confident that our product can handle the increased complexity and transaction volume of e-commerce businesses before launching marketing. The pandemic has caused the e-commerce industry to grow significantly faster and that was also a factor for us.”

He added that Osome will add integrations with multiple e-commerce platforms and administrative services, with the goal of cutting hours out of the time e-commerce company owners spend on accounting each week.

Osome’s flagship product is online accounting services for SMEs, connecting companies with chartered accountants. It also offers corporate secretary services, including business registration, compliance and taxation. The platform uses machine learning tech to automate many tasks—for example, it categorizes, tags and stores documents, creates management reports and tax returns and files paperwork on time.

Lysenko said entrepreneurs on average spend 68% of their time dealing with back-office tasks, instead of strategizing their company’s goals. Osome is meant to reduce the burden of administrative work on small businesses and demand for its services grew during the pandemic as companies moved more of their operations online.

Singapore makes it relatively easy to incorporate businesses online, so several other startups in the same space are based there. These include Sleek, Lanturn and BlueMeg, all focused on automating accounting and other time-consuming tasks for SMEs.

In a statement about the funding, S16VC co-founder Aleks Shamis said, “I’ve done business with small and medium e-commerce in 10 countries and see the same inefficiencies in manual accounting across all of them. It is a real problem that will definitely be solved, and Osome is technologically and traction-wise among the few companies in the world in getting there.”

 

#accounting, #asia, #corporate-services, #fundings-exits, #osome, #singapore, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

UK’s Paysend raises $125M at a $700M+ valuation to expand its all-in-one payments platform

With more people than ever before going online to pay for things and pay each other, startups that are building the infrastructure that enables these actions continue to get a lot of attention.

In the latest development, Paysend, a fintech that has built a mobile-based payments platform — which currently offers international money transfers, global accounts, and business banking and e-commerce for SMBs — has picked up some money of its own. The London-based startup has closed a round of $125 million, a sizable Series B that the company’s CEO and founder Ronnie Millar said it will be using both to continue expanding its business geographically, to hire more people, and to continue building more fintech products.

The funding is being led by One Peak, with Infravia Growth Capital, Hermès GPE, previous backer Plug and Play and others participating.

Millar said Paysend is not disclosing valuation today but described it as a “substantial kick-up” and “a great step forward in our position ahead towards unicorn status.”

From what I understand though, the company was valued at $160 million in its previous round, and its core metrics have gone up 4.5x. Doing some basic math, that gives the company a valuation of around $720 million, a figure that a source close to the company did not dispute when I brought it up.

Something that likely caught investors’ attention is that Paysend has grown to the size it is today — it currently has 3.7 million consumer customers using its transfer and global account services, and 17,000 small business customers, and is now available in 110 receiving countries — in less than four years and $50 million in funding.

There are a couple of notable things about Paysend and its position in the market today, the first being the competitive landscape.

On paper, Paysend appears to offer many of the same features as a number of other fintechs: money transfer, global payments, and banking and e-commerce services for smaller businesses are all well-trodden areas with companies like Wise (formerly “TransferWise”), PayPal, Revolut, and so many others also providing either all or a range of these services.

To me, the fact that any one company relatively off the tech radar can grow to the size that it has speaks about the opportunity in the market for more than just one or two, or maybe five, dominant players.

Considering just remittances alone, the WorldBank in April said that flows just to low- and middle-income countries stood at $540 million last year, and that was with a dip in volumes due to Covid-19. The cut that companies like Paysend make in providing services to send money is, of course, significantly smaller than that — business models include commission charges, flat fees, or making money off exchange rates; Paysend charges £1 per transfer in the UK. More than that, the overall volumes, and the opportunity to build more services for that audience, are why we’re likely to see a lot of companies with ambitions to serve that market.

Services for small businesses, and tapping into the opportunity to provide more e-commerce tools at a time when more business and sales are being conducted online, is similarly crowded but also massive.

Indeed, Paysend points out that there is still a lot of growing and evolution left to do. Citing McKinsey research, it notes that some 70% of international payments are currently still cash-to-cash, with fees averaging up to 5.2% per transaction, and timing taking up to an hour each for sender and recipient to complete transfers. (Paysend claims it can cut fees by up to 60%.)

This brings us to the second point about Paysend: how it’s built its services. The fintech world today leans heavily on APIs: companies that are knitting together a lot of complexity and packaging it into APIs that are used by others who bypass needing to build those tools themselves, instead integrating them and adding better user experience and responsive personalization around them. notes, is a little different from these, with a vertically integrated approach, having itself built everything that it uses from the ground up.

Millar — a Scottish repeat entrepreneur (his previous company Paywizard, which has rebranded to Singula, is a specialist in pay-TV subscriber management) — notes that Paysend has built both its processing and acquiring facilities. “Because we have built everything in-house it lets us see what the consumer needs and uses, and to deliver that at a lower cost basis,” he said. “It’s much more cost efficient and we pass that savings on to the consumer. We designed our technology to be in complete control of it. It’s the most profitable approach, too, from a business point of view.”

That being said, he confirmed that Paysend itself is not yet profitable, but investors believe it’s making the right moves to get there.

“We are excited by Paysend’s enormous growth potential in a massive market, benefiting from a rapid acceleration in the adoption of digital payments,” said Humbert de Liedekerke, managing partner at One Peak Partners, in a statement. “In particular, we are seeing strong opportunities as Paysend moves beyond consumers to serve business customers and expands its international footprint to address a growing need for fast, easy and low-cost cross border digital payments. Paysend has built an exceptional payment platform by maintaining an unwavering focus on its customers and constantly innovating. We are excited to back the entire Paysend team in their next phase of explosive growth.”

#ecommerce, #enterprise, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #money-transfer, #payments, #paysend, #smb, #smbs, #smes, #transfers

BukuKas gets $50M from investors including DoorDash’s Gokul Rajaram and TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus

BukuKas co-founders Krishnan Menon (left) and Lorenzo Peracchione (right) with a BukuKas user

BukuKas co-founders Krishnan Menon (left) and Lorenzo Peracchione (right) with a BukuKas user

BukuKas, a startup focused on digitizing Indonesia’s small businesses, has raised $50 million in Series B funding. The round included participation from Gokul Rajaram, the DoorDash executive, and Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and chief executive officer of TransferWise.

This news comes just four months after BukuKas announced a $10 million Series A led by Sequoia Capital India. BukuKas will use its Series B to hire for its engineering and product teams in Jakarta and Bangalore, and launch new services for merchants.

“We’ve been growing really fast and there was a lot of interest from some very good people,” chief executive officer Krishnan Menon told TechCrunch. “This is not a capital-need based raise, but more of a tactical raise and having the right people back us long term.”

BukuKas was founded by Menon and chief operating officer Lorenzo Peracchione, who met while working at Lazada Indonesia. Since its launch as as a digital bookkeeping app in December 2019, BukuKas has added new features, including online payments and an e-commerce platform. The app has onboarded about 6.3 million businesses so far and now has a total of 3 million monthly active users. It claims its annualized bookkeeping transaction volume is $25.9 billion USD, or the equivalent of about 2.2% of Indonesia’s gross domestic product.

According to Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, there are about 60 million SMEs, though Menon says that number may range from 55 million to 65 million. The majority still operate mostly offline, but the push to digitization began even before the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Indonesian government launched a program two years ago with marketplace Blibi to encourage more businesses to sell online, with the goal of helping more SMEs go global.

This means there is a growing roster of startups and services focused on helping small businesses go online. These include Y Combinator-backed BukuWarung, WarungPintar, Grab’s Mitra GrabKios and wholesaler-focused CrediBook. India-based Khatabook, another Sequoia Capital India portfolio company, launched BukuUang in Indonesia, but has since pulled out of the market.

“There’s obviously a macro shift that’s happening in the market right now. People are rushing to get digitized and people are coming out of a rough year. They started to realize ‘I need to upgrade,’ so there’s a rush to get digitized, to manage their money better, a movement to digital payments,” said Menon.

BukuKas’ goal is to become an end-to-end software stack for micro, small and medium enterprises and serve 20 million MSMEs by the end of 2022, with inventory management, invoicing, payment-related analytics and other tools. The company recently took several steps toward that goal. In April, it launched BukuKasPay for business owners to pay suppliers online or accept digital payments, including virtual bank accounts and e-wallets like OVO, Dana, GoPay, LinkAja and ShopeePay from customers. In September 2020, it acquired a digital ledger app called Catatan Keuangan Harian to expand its market share before launching an e-commerce platform called Tokko that enables MSMEs to set up online shops. About 1.3 million merchants have created shops using Tokko in the six months since its release.

Tokko focuses on merchants who find big marketplaces, like Tokopedia, too complicated, and want an alternative way to set up an online brand.

BukuKas’ users include warungs (small stores), fashion retailers, electronics stores, social commerce sellers and service providers. On average, its users make several thousand U.S. dollars per month in revenue, but some earn as high as tens of thousands of dollars.

The app is designed to work as a layer on top of WhatsApp. For example, many merchants allow customers to buy on credit, so they can use BukuKas to send automatic reminders through WhatsApp with a payment link. Businesses can also send invoices or take Tokko orders through WhatsApp. Menon said since many Indonesian merchants already relied on WhatsApp to communicate with suppliers and customers, this helps it onboard more users because they don’t have to make major changes to their operational routines. It also creates viral loops, as other businesses get payment reminders or invoices sent through BukuKas, and decide to try the app, too.

“Our thesis is very similar to what Square or Shopify did in the U.S. We keep merchants as the center of the universe, and we keep building solutions for them,” Menon said. “That can be software-related solutions like BukuKas’ early version and Tokko moving further into commerce. We’re moving further into banking solutions, so payments come first, and then actually building out the full banking suite. The end goal is if a merchant five years from now looks back and says, thanks to BukuKas I was able to adapt to the digital era, and sticks with us.”

#asia, #bukukas, #digital-bookkeeping, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #msmes, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Aspire’s business accounts reach $1B in annualized transaction volume one year after launching

Singapore-based Aspire, which wants to become the financial services “one-stop shop” for SMEs, announced that its business accounts have reached $1 billion in annualized transaction volume one year after launching. The company also unveiled Bill Pay, its latest feature that lets businesses manage and pay invoices by emailing them to Aspire’s AI-based digital assistant.

Launched in May 2020, Aspire’s online business accounts are targeted to startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises, and do not require minimum deposits or monthly fees. Co-founder and chief executive officer Andrea Baronchelli told TechCrunch more than 10,000 companies now use Aspire’s business accounts and that adoption was driven by two main reasons. The first was Aspire’s transition to a multi-product strategy early last year, after focusing on corporate cards and working capital loans. The second reason is the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it harder for companies to open accounts at traditional banks.

“We can go in and say we offer all-in-one financial tools for growing businesses,” he said. “People come in and use one thing first, and then we offer them other things later on, so that’s been a huge success for us.”

Founded in 2018, Aspire has raised about $41.5 million in funding so far, including a Series A announced in July 2019. Its investors include MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia, Arc Labs and Y Combinator.

Baronchelli said Aspire’s business account users consist of two main segments. The first are “launchers,” or people who are starting their first businesses and need to set up a way to send and receive money. Launchers typically make less than $400,000 a year in revenue and their Aspire account serves as their primary business account. The second segment are companies that make about $500,000 to $2 million a year and already had another bank account, but started using Aspire for its credit line, expense management or foreign exchange tools, and decided to open an account on the platform as well.

The company has customers from across Southeast Asia, and is particularly focused on Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. For example, it launched Aspire Kickstart, with incorporation services for Singaporean companies, at the start of this year.

Bill Pay, its newest feature, lets business owners forward invoices by email to Aspire’s AI-based digital assistant, which uses optical character recognition and deep learning to pull out payment details, including terms and due dates. Then users get a notification to do a final check before approving and scheduling payments. The feature syncs with accounting systems integrated into Aspire, including Xero and Quickbooks. Baronchelli said Aspire decided to launch Bill Pay after interviewing businesses and finding that many still relied on Excel spreadsheets.

Aspire’s offerings overlap with several other fintech companies in Southeast Asia. For example, Volopay, Wise and Revolut offer business accounts, too, and Spenmo offers business cards. Aspire plans to differentiate by expanding its stack of multiple products. For example, it is developing tools for accounts receivable, such as invoice automation, and accounts payable, like a dedicated product for payroll management. Baronchelli said Aspire is currently interviewing users to finalize the set of features it will offer.

“I don’t want to close the door that others might come toward a multiple product approach, but if you ask me what our position is now, we are basically the only one that offers an all-in-one product stack,” he added. “So we are a couple years ahead of the competition and have a first-mover advantage.”

 

#asia, #aspire, #business-accounts, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #online-banking, #singapore, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Zeller, a fintech founded by Square alumni, raises $25M AUD Series A led by Lee Fixel’s Addition

A photo of Dominic Yap, chief operating officer and co-founder, and Ben Pfisterer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Zeller

Dominic Yap, chief operating officer and co-founder, and Ben Pfisterer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Zeller

Zeller, a payment and financial services startup founded by former Square executives, quietly raised a $25 million AUD (about $19.4 million USD) Series A last year, it announced today. The funding was led by Addition, the investment firm founded by former Tiger Global partner Lee Fixel, and included participation from returning investors Square Peg and Apex Capital. The Melbourne-based company said this is one of Australia’s largest pre-launch Series A rounds ever.

The startup previously raised a $6.3 million AUD (USD $4.9 million) seed round in June 2020. Zeller was was founded last year by Ben Pfisterer, Square’s former Asia Pacific and Australia head, and Dominic Yap, its strategy and growth lead. It has made 38 new hires over the past six months, growing its team to 50 people.

The funding will be used to grow Zeller’s product development and engineering capabilities, marketing and sales, and customer support teams as it prepares for its launch. A date hasn’t been set yet, but chief executive officer Pfisterer told TechCrunch it is “imminent.”

Zeller will offer a fully-integrated payments and financial services solution designed for small- to medium-sized businesses that currently rely on multiple providers for their payment terminals, point of sale systems, e-commerce payments, transaction accounts and credit cards. Zeller’s software is combined with a payment terminal, transaction account and business Mastercard, and intended to make it easier for businesses to accept and send payments, access funds and manage their finances. Zeller will have no lock-in contracts and one low fee for card payments.

“We don’t underestimate the challenges that come with scaling a new brand in an area dominated by entrenched banking incumbents, yet the opportunity is incredibly exciting,” said Pfisterer. “The industry experience our team has built up over the years means that we are well aware of the pain points business owners face when getting set up with a new banking or financial services provider.”

He added that despite the growth of e-commerce, about two-thirds of transactions are still processed in person. Zeller’s “sweet spot” is currently businesses that process up to $10 million AUD annually, mostly in face-to-face transactions.

“They may be sole traders or employ a team, may operate across one or multiple locations and come from a variety of verticals including retail, hospitality, fixed or mobile services, events, trades and many more,” said Pfisterer. He estimated that Zeller’s market opportunity in Australia includes just under 1.5 million merchants, and it is also designed to be scalable into other markets.

Other payment and financial services companies in Australia include Square, eWAY, PayPal, Ayden and Stripe.

Pfisterer said eWAY, Stripe and Adyen tend to focus on e-commerce payment processing, “yet this is just one element of what business owners need to manage their cash flow.” Most still need to accept in-person payments, which means going to a traditional bank for a merchant terminal and account. On the other hand, PayPal and Square focus mainly on micro-merchants. “The growing pains kick in when a business starts to expand and demands a wider variety of services.”

Zeller already has plans to introduce new payment and financial services products, and integrations with tools like point-of-sale and accounting software, to scale up with businesses as they grow, he added.

#australia, #financial-services, #fintech, #payments, #smes, #tc

BukuWarung, a startup digitizing Indonesia’s SMEs, raises new funding from Rocketship.vc

BukuWarung, an Indonesian startup focused on digitizing the country’s 60 million small businesses, announced today it has raised new funding from Rocketship.vc and an Indonesian retail conglomerate.

The amount was undisclosed, but sources say it brings BukuWarung’s total funding so far to $20 million. The company’s last round, announced in September 2020, was between $10 million to $15 million. Launched in 2019, BukuWarung was founded by Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty and took part in Y Combinator last year.

Rocketship.vc is also an investor in Indian startup Khatabook, which reached a valuation between $275 million to $300 million in its last funding round. Like Khatabook, BukuWarung helps small businesses, like neigborhood stores called warung, that previously relied on paper ledgers transition to digital bookkeeping and online payments. BukuWarung recently launched Tokoko, a Shopify-like tool that lets merchants create online stores through an app, and says Tokoko has been used by 500,000 merchants so far.

Chuahan, BukuWarung’s president, said it has started making revenue through its payments solution. In total, BukuWarung now claims more than 3.5 million registered merchants in 750 Indonesian towns and cities, and says it is recording over $15 billion worth of transactions across its platform and processing over $500 million in terms of volume.

SMEs contribute about 60% to Indonesia’s gross domestic product and employ 97% of its domestic workforce, but many have difficulty accessing financial services that can help them grow. By digitizing their financial records, companies like BukuWarung can make it easier for them to access lines of credit, working capital loans and other services. Other companies serving SMEs in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, include BukuKas and CrediBook.

BukuWarung will use its new funding to grow its tech and product teams in Indonesia, India and Singapore. It plans to launch more monetization products, including credit, and grow its payments solution this year.

#asia, #bukuwarung, #digital-bookkeeping, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

CrediBook gets $1.5 million to help Indonesian retail wholesalers digitize their finances

CrediBook, a startup that helps Indonesian retail wholesalers digitize the financial side of their operations, has raised $1.5 million in pre-Series A funding led by Wavemaker Partners, with participation from Alpha JWC Ventures and Insignia Ventures Partners. The capital will be used for product launches and expansion into more Indonesian cities.

Founded in February 2020, CrediBook is part of a wave of startups focused on digitizing small- to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. SMEs contribute more than 60% of the country’s gross domestic product, but many still use traditional bookkeeping systems like paper ledgers. Digitizing them makes it easier for them to use services like online invoicing and payments, and keep financial records to apply for working capital loans.

Some other startups serving Indonesian SMEs include BukuKas and BukuWarung, two digital bookkeeping apps for small B2C businesses like neighborhood stores and restaurants (both have also recently raised funding). Moka and Jurnal, meanwhile, are used by larger companies. CrediBook is carving out a niche for itself by serving small-to-medium sized B2B businesses in the retail sector, including wholesalers.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Gabriel Frans told TechCrunch that the company is moving toward a profitable business model and currently has more than 500,000 customers, who use the app for bookkeeping, tracking orders from retailers and digital payments. CrediBook also works with financial services provider PayFazz, one of its seed investors, to provide financing to SMEs.

Frans said CrediBook plans to add more features, including online invoicing, to create an end-to-end platform like Tel Aviv and New York-based B2B payment startups Melio, which announced a round of funding this week that brought its valuation to $1.3 billion. “We are digitizing not only the bookkeeping, but also the invoicing and payment processing,” Frans said.

Most of CrediBook’s customers are currently concentrated in the cities of Jabodetabek and Bandung, and part of its funding will be used for building its user base in more areas. Frans said many of the startup’s customers relied on paper ledgers before signing up for CrediBook, so part of the process of convincing them to go online includes demonstrating how having more visibility into their finances can grow their businesses.

“We are very close to our users because this is a very localized market,” said Frans, who previously worked at O2O platform Kudo (now called GrabKios after its acquisition by Grab in 2017) and bookings platform Traveloka. “I was already familiar with the industry based on my previous experience, and if they try our app and experience the benefit of how it will make their day-to-day problems less, they will love it.”

#asia, #credibook, #digital-bookkeeping, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

BukuKas raises $10 million led by Sequoia Capital India to build a “end-to-end software stack” for Indonesian SMEs

The backbone of Indonesia’s economy are small- to medium-sized businesses, which account for 60% of its gross domestic product. Many still rely on manual bookkeeping, but the impact of COVID-19 has driven small businesses to digitize more of their operations. BukuKas, one of several startups helping SMEs go online, announced today it has raised a $10 million Series A led by Sequoia Capital India.

BukuKas launched in December 2019 as a digital bookkeeping app, but is growing its range of services with the goal of creating an “end-to-end software stack” for small businesses. Eventually, it wants to launch a SME-focused digital bank.

The funding, which brings BukuKas’ total raised so far to $22 million, included participation from returning investors Saison Capital, January Capital, Founderbank Capital, Cambium Grove, Endeavor Catalyst and Amrish Rau.

As of November 2020, BukuKas had a registered user base of 3.5 million small merchants and retailers, and had crossed 1.8 million monthly active users. During that month, the platform also recorded $17.4 billion worth of transactions on an annualized basis, a figure corresponding to more than 1.5% of Indonesia’s $1.04 trillion GDP.

BukuKas was founded by chief executive officer Krishnan Menon and chief operating officer Lorenzo Peracchione, who met eight years ago while working at Lazada Indonesia.

Menon’s previous startup was Fabelio, an Indonesian online home furnishings store. Every two months, he would visit smaller small cities in Indonesia, like Jepara and Cirebon, to source furniture.

“One of the things that stood out was how different the Jakarta bubble is from the rest of Indonesia, all the way from the penetration of software to financial services,” he told TechCrunch. While talking to merchants and suppliers, Menon realized that “no one is building products with them as the center of the universe,” despite the fact that there are 56 million small businesses.

Peracchione said he and Mebon had been brainstorming startup ideas for a while. “When he told me about the idea of solving cash flow visibility to SMEs, it immediately struck me,” Peracchione said. “My dad used to be a SME owner himself and during my childhood I experience first hand the struggles and ups and downs connected to running a small business.”

The two decided to start with digital bookkeeping after speaking to 1,052 merchants because helping them keep track of their business performance would generate data that would in turn enable access to more financial services.

“Our vision expanded into providing an end-to-end software stack to digitize SMEs and help them across a wide range of activities as a prequel to building an SME-focused digital bank down the line,” Menon said.

In addition to digital ledger features, BukuKas also sends payment reminders to buyers through WhatsApp and automatically generates invoices, includes an an inventory management module and analyzes expenses to help businesses understand what is impacting their profit. The company plans to add digital payments this month. During the rest of 2021, it will also introduce more features to help businesses sell online, including tools for online store fronts, a promotions engine and social sharing.

“With COVID-19, SMEs are rushing to get digitized, but they lack the right mobile-first tools to sell online as well as to manage their business,” said Menon.

The app focuses on smaller Indonesian cities and towns, since about 73% of the merchants who use BukuKas are located outside of tier 1 cities like Jakarta. Its users represent wide range of sectors, including retailers, food vendors, grocery markets, mobile and phone credit providers, social commerce sellers, wholesalers and service providers. BukuKas acquired digital ledger app Catatan Keuangan Harian, which has 300,000 monthly active users, in September 2020 to expand its market share in Indonesia.

With its large number of SMEs, Indonesia is seen as a desirable market for companies helping the drive toward digitization. For example, India’s Khatabook, which was valued between $275 million to $300 million after its last round of funding in May 2020, recently launched BukuUang in Indonesia. Other startups in the same space include Y Combinator-backed BukuWarung, Moka and Jurnal, all of which offer tools to help SMEs bring more of their operations online.

Menon said BukuKas’ advantage is its team’s experience building businesses in Indonesia over the past seven years. For example, it launched a “Know Your Profits” module based on user feedback. It also offers a self-guided onboarding process, a simple user interface and an offline mode for users in areas with poor network connections.

“In general, individual features can be copied but we believe our ‘integrated end-to-end software stack approach,’ coupled with our obsessive focus on simplicity, deep understanding of our users and a superior level of service will be key in differentiating BukuKas from competing offerings,” he added.

BukuKas’ Series A will be used on user acquisition, its engineering and product teams in Jakarta and Bangalore and to introduce new services for merchants. The company may eventually expand into other Southeast Asia markets, but “in the short term consolidating and further expanding our leadership in the SME space in Indonesia is our top priority,” said Menon.

 

#apps, #asia, #bukukas, #digital-bookkeeping, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Indonesian fintech startup BukuWarung gets new funding to add financial services for small merchants

A month after completing Y Combinator’s accelerator program, BukuWarung, an financial tech startup that serves small businesses in Indonesia, announced it has raised new funding from a roster of high-profile investors, including partners of DST Global, Soma Capital and 20VC.

The amount of the funding was undisclosed, but a source told TechCrunch that it was between $10 million to $15 million. The new capital will be used to hire for BukuWarung’s technology team. TechCrunch first profiled BukuWarung in July.

Angel investors in the round include several high-profile founders and executives: finance technology platform Plaid’s co-founder William Hockey; Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen; Superhuman founder Rahul Vohra; Adobe chief product officer Scott Belsky; Clearbit chairman and startup advisor Josh Buckley; former Uber chief product officer Manik Gupta; Spotify’s former head of new markets in Asia Sriram Krishnan; 20VC founder Harry Stebbings; Nancy Xiao, an investor with Bond Capital; and Fast co-founder Allison Barr Allen. Angel investors from WhatsApp, Square and Airbnb also participated.

Launched last year by co-founders Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty, BukuWarung is targeted at the 60 million “micromerchants” in Indonesia, including neighborhood store (or warung) owners. The app was originally created as a replacement for pen and apper ledgers, but plans to introduce financial services including credit, savings and insurance. In August, the company integrated digital payments into its platform, enabling merchants to take customer payments from bank accounts and digital wallets like OVO and DANA. BukuWarung’s goal is to fill the same role for Indonesian merchants that KhataBook and OKCredit do in India.

 

One of the reasons BukuWarung launched digital payments was in response to customer demand for contactless transactions and instant payouts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since introducing the feature, the company said it has already processed several million U.S. dollars in total payment volume (TPV) on an annualized basis. The company says it now serves about 1.2 million merchants across 750 locations in Indonesia, focusing on tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Digital payments is also the first step into building out BukuWarung’s financial services, which will help differentiate it from other bookkeeping. The payments features is currently free and BukuWarung is experimenting with different monetization models, including making a small margin on fees.

“The reason why we launched payments is also very strategic, because there is a lot of pull in the market. We have already seen several millions annualized TPV in less than a month, because the payments we offer are cost-efficient as well and cheaper than to get from a bank,” Chauhan told TechCrunch.

“If you look at the Indian players, like Khatabook, they have also launched digital payments. The reason for that is because it’s a very essential step for building a business and monetization,” he added. “If you don’t have payments, you can’t do anything like that.”

Chauhan added that building a financial services platform is the difference between providing a utility app that replaces bookkeeping ledgers, and becoming an essential service for merchants that will eventually include lending for working capital, savings and insurance products. The bookkeeping features on BukuWarung will feed into the financial services aspect by providing data to score creditworthiness, and help small merchants, who often have difficulty securing working capital from traditional banks, get access to lines of credit.

#apps, #asia, #bookkeeping, #bukuwarung, #financial-services, #financial-tech, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #micro-merchants, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Finance and the digital divide: a conversation with Tunde Kehinde of Lidya

Small and medium businesses have been some of the hardest hit in the Covid-19 pandemic. And all that has been as true in emerging markets as it has been for SMBs in the developed world.

Tunde Kehinde has had a front-row seat witnessing and responding to that crisis. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Lidya, a startup out of Nigeria that has built a platform for SMBs to apply for and get loans and other financial services, aimed at markets on the African continent and increasingly also in emerging economies in Europe. We sat down with him as part of our new virtual Disrupt series, where we have been connecting with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech world beyond the US.

Kehinde has been called the “Jeff Bezos of Africa”, a funny title you might think sounds like tenuous or cheesy marketing until you know more about his history in business, the impact it’s had so far (he’s not that old) in the region, and until you hear him speak.

Kehinde — born in Nigeria and exposed to a lot of the US way of doing things through university years at Howard and then Harvard — was previously the co-founder of one of the biggest tech startups to have come out of the continent — Jumia — an Amazon-style marketplace that is slowly branching out into a wider web of services like payments, food delivery and more.

Initially incubated by Rocket Internet, Jumia raised hundreds of millions of dollars from VCs, scaled to multiple countries on the continent, and is now traded publicly on Nasdaq with a current market cap of $660 million — modest by Amazon standards maybe, but a real milestone for African tech.

That alone would probably merit some to wonder if he’s the “next Bezos”, but it’s been his follow-up act at Lidya that paints a broader picture. In short, there is a lot more potential for payment and online commerce services in emerging markets, and focusing on helping small businesses cross the digital chasm is not just a good business opportunity, but a developmental one, too. Capital, specifically the lack thereof, has always been a huge hindrance to growth, and these days it’s an even more critical axiom to address.

You can see the full Disrupt conversation below, where Kehinde covers a lot of ground, not just about his company but about how tech is evolving in the region.

The breakout success of a handful of startups — which include the likes of new digital payments unicorn Interswitch as well as Jumia — venturing into multiple jurisdictions, he noted, is seeing more VCs also increase their interest and investment activity. He thinks the next very important step is to have more exits, which will confer a different kind of credibility and liquidity to the market.

And there should be, he added: There are few places like the African continent that is a blank slate, where you can come in quickly and build a really dominant player, if you have the right capital and team, he said.

“It’s night and day between seven years ago and now,” he added, but also admitted that while financial services and the related world of e-commerce are obvious places to start — it was also the classic category to tackle first in the US and Europe many years earlier — he still sees more interest from VCs in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

His advice for VCs?

“If I were a VC I would look at what have been the biggest successes from folks like me,” he said. “Seeing Jumia and others going public, as more of these things happen the more you can develop a great policy and that will make it easier. I launched, I got to scale, I got return on investment, the right infrastructure can be built.”

Tune in here to hear him also talk about China and how to handle investment from outside Africa; what other big deals in loans for SMBs, such as Kabbage getting acquired by Amex, mean for startups like Lidya, the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on business; identifying opportunities beyond your immediate region; and more.

#africa, #african-tech, #disrupt, #ecommerce, #emerging-markets, #finance, #fintech, #jumia, #lidya, #loans, #nigeria, #smbs, #smes, #startups, #tc, #tcuk, #techcrunch-disrupt, #tunde-kehinde

Jakarta-based Wahyoo gets $5 million Series A to help small eateries digitize their operations

Wahyoo’s team, including CEO Peter Shearer (third from left)

While growing up, Peter Shearer watched his mother get up every day at 2AM or 3AM to prepare for her catering business. For many people who own small food businesses in Indonesia, “everything is handled on their own, so I really, really wanted to create a system so they can have better operations and get more quality of life,” Shearer told TechCrunch.

His startup, Wahyoo, was founded in 2017 to help small eateries, called warung makan, digitize and automate more tasks, from ordering supplies to managing finances. Today, Wahyoo announced that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Intudo Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on Indonesia.

Other investors in the round included Kinesys Group, Amatil X (the corporate venture program of Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the world’ five largest Coca-Cola bottlers), Arkblu Capital, Indogen Capital, Selera Kapital, Gratyo Universal Indonesia and Isenta Hioe. The capital will be used on hiring, developing Wahyoo’s tech platform and expanding beyond the Greater Jakarta area.

In a press statement about the investment, Intudo Ventures founding partner Patrick Yip said, “Small-and medium enterprises represent one of the major engines of economic growth in Indonesia and are being transformed through new innovative businesses like Wahyoo, bringing greater economic prosperity to small business owners throughout the country. Through the company’s digitization efforts, Wahyoo’s highly targeted support for warung makan businesses is creating positive economic and social impact for Indonesia’s working class.”

Wahyoo launched its app almost exactly a year ago and has onboarded about 13,800 warung makan so far. The company’s co-founders are Shearer, the chief executive officer; chief operating officer Daniel Cahyadi; and chief technology officer Michael Dihardja.

With about 268 million people, Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest markets, and there are already startups, like Warung Pintar and BakuWarung, that focus on helping warung, or small corner stores, digitize more of their operations.

Shearer said he wanted to focus on Indonesian eateries in particular because “my background is in the food industry and I love anything related to food. Second, the potential is very big because no one has tapped into this type of warung before. Everyone focuses on retail, but no one taps into the culinary business.”

Wahyoo currently employs about 170 people, including on-the-ground teams who meet with warung makan owners. The eateries are “usually run by a family, from generation to generation,” with almost all tasks performed manually, including bookkeeping and going to markets early in the morning to buy ingredients, Shearer said.

A warung makan owner on Wahyoo’s platform

Wahyoo’s features include a next-day grocery delivery service from its own warehouses and integration with Go Food, a popular delivery app. The startup also runs an education program called Wahyoo Academy, with financial courses to help warung makan owners increase customer traffic and revenue, and offers advertising and brand partnerships.

For example, a restaurant on Wahyoo’s platform can earn money by placing ad banners or brochures in their stores. That is one of the way Wahyoo monetizes. It is free to use for restaurant owners, and makes revenue by taking a percentage of brand commissions.

Another revenue stream is Wahyoo’s fried chicken franchise, which gives warung makan owners the option of opening a small stall in front of their stores. It currently has about 350 stalls and keeps costs low by partnering with one of Indonesia’s largest poultry suppliers. Shearer said the company’s goal is to increase the number of stalls to 1,000 by the end of this year.

While eateries on Wahyoo saw a drop in their business in April and May because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shearer said that it began to recover in June and July, and is now back to normal, partly because of the platform’s Go Food integration.

In the future, Wahyoo may face competition from other warung-focused startups if they decided to expand their services to restaurants as well, and new startups that want to tap into the business opportunity offered by the 59.3 million small- to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia, many of which haven’t digitized their operations yet.

Shearer said Wahyoo’s value proposition is its portfolio of complementary services. “We are basically creating an ecosystem,” he added. “We are not only focusing on the supply chain, but also our own brand. We have the fried chicken brand and in the future we will tap into financial technology and the catering business as well.”

#asia, #food, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #restaurants, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #wahyoo

Tiger Global-backed SirionLabs launches SirionAE to make contract management easier for SMEs

Contracts contain a lot of easy-to-miss details, especially for companies that need to deal with high volumes of paperwork. At the same time, many lack access to software that makes the process easier by digitizing contracts. SirionLabs, the contract management software startup backed by Tiger Global, wants to help with a new product called SirionAE. While SirionAE is integrated into SirionLabs’ flagship contract lifestyle management (CLM) platform, it is also available as a standalone product.

Founder and chief executive officer Ajay Agrawal told TechCrunch that his company decided to offer SirionAE on its own because many clients need to create a central repository of their contract backlog before they are able to fully take advantage of CLM software.

SirionAE is meant to be a cost-effective way for companies to address that gap and “immediately democratize access to a larger set of mid-market companies who’ll now be able to avoid the high costs and durations associated with risk analysis, diligence and compliance,” Agrawal said.

Companies are already using SirionAE include Vodafone, Unilever, Credit Suisse and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). Founded in 2012, SirionLabs’ last round of funding, a $44 million Series C led by Tiger Global and Avatar Growth Capital, was announced in May, and brought the Seattle-based startup’s total raised so far to $66 million.

Close analysis of contracts is always important when doing due diligence, adhering to privacy regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and managing routine legal and operational obligations to customers and vendors.

During COVID-19, digitizing contracts into a central database has also become more important because team members are often working remotely. Parsing contracts is also especially crucial to the logistics industry because of disruptions to the global supply chain, which means suppliers and buyers who are located in different countries need to keep in close contact about their obligations to one another.

Missing contractual obligations can also be an expensive headache. SirionLabs points to research by the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) that shows poor contract management can lose companies 9% in annual revenue.

SirionLabs claims that SirionAE is able to deliver more detailed insight than competing products from other CLM providers, like Cognitiv+, Docusign’s Seal Software or Eigen Technologies, because it can capture data from more than 100 out-of-the-box fields. While some types of contracts, including non-disclosure agreements and master service agreements, are fairly standardized, others, including ones for IT services, tend to be more complex and include statement of work, appendices and other documents.

Agrawal said SirionAE’s technology, which uses neural-network based technology to constantly refine its performance, makes it easier for companies to track crucial information like obligations, service levels and pricing tables. He added that SirionAE can also effectively extract data from multi-column pages, documents written in multiple languages and even handwritten notes. That information, including risks, entitlements and obligations, is then presented on a central dashboard.

For example, a client in the telecom sector uses SirionAE to identify and help their customers understand minimum spend commitment clauses in their contracts, helping the company’s top-line and reducing disputes. Another client is using SirionAE to find volume discounts in their procurement contracts, which Agrawal said has already helped them save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

#contract-lifecycle-management, #contract-management-software, #contracts, #sirionae, #sirionlabs, #smes, #startups, #tc

Meet BukuWarung, the bookkeeping app built for Indonesia’s 60 million “micro-merchants”

In Indonesia, there are about 60 million “micro-merchants,” typically small store owners who sell food and other staple items, and have close relationships with their customers. Many often extend informal lines of credit to shoppers, but much of their financial tracking is still done with pen and paper ledgers. Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty, the co-founders of BukuWarung, want to digitize the process with a financial platform designed especially for small Indonesian businesses. Their goal is to start with bookkeeping tools, before expanding into services including access to working capital.

The startup is currently taking part in Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program. BukuWarung has also raised seed funding from East Ventures, AC Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, Tanglin Ventures, Samporna, as well as strategic angel investors from Grab, Gojek, Flipkart, PayPal, Xendit, Rapyd, Alterra, ZEN Rooms and other companies.

Chauhan and Peddisetty met while working together at Singapore-based peer-to-peer marketplace Carousell, where they focused on developing monetization products for sellers. Chauhan also worked on products for merchants at Grab, the largest ride-sharing and on-demand delivery company in Southeast Asia. But the inspiration behind BukuWarung is also personal, because both Chauhan and Peddisetty’s families run small neighborhood stores.

“We can look at this more deeply given the experience we have monetizing merchants at Grab and Carousell,” Chauhan said. “We also know good potential exists in Indonesia, where we can help 60 million micro-merchants come online and digitize. From a macro-level, we felt this would be a huge opportunity, and there is also the personal element of being potentially being able to impact millions of merchants.”

Paper records not only make tracking finances a labor-intensive process, but also means it is harder for merchants to gain access to lines of credit. Chauhan and Peddisetty told TechCrunch that their goal is to expand the company to financial services as well, doing for Indonesian merchants what KhataBook and OKCredit have done in India. Since launching last year, BukuWarung has signed up 600,000 merchants across 750 cities and towns in Indonesia and currently has about 200,000 monthly average users. The founders say their goal is to reach all 60 million micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. It has already made its first acquisition: Lunasbos, one of the first Indonesian credit tracking apps.

BukuWarung founders Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty

While preparing to launch BukuWarung, the founders traveled through Indonesia, speaking to almost 400 merchants about their challenges with bookkeeping, credit tracing and accounting. Based on those conversations, the two decided to start by focusing on a bookkeeping app, which launched 10 months ago.

Despite a partial lockdown in Indonesia from April to June, BukuWarung continued to grow because most of its users sell daily necessities, like groceries. In smaller cities and villages, merchants often offer credit lines because their customers’ cash flow is very tight, and many do not have a regular monthly paycheck, Chauhan said. “Everyone is buying and selling on credit, that is something we validated in our research.”

Then there is the community aspect, where many merchants are close to their customers.

“This changes depending on the location of the business, but business owners have often known a lot of people in their neighborhoods for a long time, and when it comes to credit, they typically offer 500 Indonesian rupiah all the way up to about one million rupiah [about USD $70.56],” Chauhan said. But when it’s time to settle bills, which often means going to customers’ homes and asking for payment, many merchants feel hesitant, he added.

“They will never chase or call the person. The app we built sends automatic reminders to customers, and this ‘soft message’ really helps merchants not feel shy while at the same time professionally giving customer reminders.”

While talking to merchants, BukuWarung’s founders also realized that many were using pay-as-you-go data plans and lower-end smartphones. Therefore, their app needed to be as lightweight as possible, and work offline so users could access and update their records anytime. This focus on making their app take up as little data and space as possible differentiates them from other bookkeeping apps, the founders said, and helps them sign up and retain users in Indonesia.

Chauhan and Peddisetty said the company will partner with financial tech companies as it grows  to give users access to online payment systems, including digital wallets, and financing.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Y Combinator partner Gustaf Alströmer said, “Building digital infrastructure for emerging economies is a huge opportunity, especially in the post-COVID world. And we believe BukuWarung is a team that can take on this challenge. We have seen this journey before with Khatabook and OkCredit in India and see that BukuWarung is on a similar growth trajectory to empower micro-businesses in Indonesia.”

 

#apps, #asia, #bookkeeping, #bukuwarung, #financial-services, #fintech, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

Southeast Asian lending platform Validus raises $20 million for its Series B+ round

Small- to medium-sized businesses are one of the most important parts of Southeast Asia’s economy, but many have trouble securing growth capital from traditional financial institutions. Validus wants to fix the financing gap with its peer-to-peer lending platform, which connects accredited lenders with SMEs. The Singapore-based startup announced today that it has raised $20 million for its ongoing Series B+ round.

The funding was co-led by Vertex Growth fund and Kuok Group’s Orion Fund, which is managed by K3 Venture Partners. Returning investors in the round include FMO, the international development bank of the Netherlands; Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India; Openspace Ventures; AddVentures; and VinaCapital Ventures.

This brings Validus’ total raised to about $40 million since it was founded in 2015, including a $15.2 million Series B round announced last year.

After getting its capital markets services license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore in December 2017, Validus launched services in Indonesia and Vietnam and says it has lent over $315 million to businesses so far. Its plans for its Series B+ round include expanding into Thailand during the last quarter of this year. Validus’ credit risk model analyzes information from invoices, contracts and cash flow.

Co-founder and COO Nikhilesh Goel says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has seen more demand for short-term financing, with a 50% year-over-year increase for credit-approved unsecured loans over the past few months.

Despite the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, loan performance has held steady, he added, because Validus focuses on corporate vendor financing for SMEs whose end-buyers are large corporations or government-linked entities.

Validus also plans to provide financing to SMEs that are on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19, including working capital for SMEs in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, and logistics and cleaning services.

“Through working closely with corporate partners and investors on the platform, we also aim to support SMEs who are pivoting their businesses to adapt to services and products that are required in this time,” Goel said. “In the last month, we have disbursed multiple such loans averaging $250,000 to $500,000, to support SMEs’ efforts in meeting the demand for face masks and other protective gear in short supply.”

In a press statement, MX Kuok of K3 Ventures said, “We are highly impressed by the leadership and depth of credit management experience at Validus. The team has demonstrated the unique ability to capture critical data points, combined with comprehensive machine learning capabilities, to identify high-potential SMEs that may have fallen through the gaps of the traditional banking model.”

#fintech, #fundings-exits, #p2p-lending, #singapore, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #validus