Category: fintech startup

Ramp and Brex draw diverging market plans with M&A strategies



Earlier today, spend management startup Ramp said it has raised a $300 million Series C that valued it $3.9 billion. It also said it was acquiring Buyer, a “negotiation-as-a-service” platform that it believes will help customers save money on purchases and SaaS products.

The round and deal were announced just a week after competitor Brex shared news of its own acquisition — the $50 million purchase of Israeli fintech startup Weav. That deal was made after Brex’s founders invested in Weav, which offers a “universal API for commerce platforms”.

From a high level, all of the recent deal-making in corporate cards and spend management shows that it’s not enough to just help companies track what employees are expensing these days. As the market matures and feature sets begin to converge, the players are seeking to differentiate themselves from the competition.

But the point of interest here is these deals can tell us where both companies think they can provide and extract the most value from the market.

These differences come atop another layer of divergence between the two companies: While Brex has instituted a paid software tier of its service, Ramp has not.

Earning more by spending less

Let’s start with Ramp. Launched in 2019, the company is a relative newcomer in the spend management category. But by all accounts, it’s producing some impressive growth numbers. As our colleague Mary Ann Azevedo wrote this morning:

Since the beginning of 2021, the company says it has seen its number (Read more...)

Trading platform Bitpanda raises $263M at a $4.1BN valuation



It’s not even half a year since crypto exchange Bitpanda announced a $170M Series B — when, back in March, Austria’s first unicorn was being valued at $1.2 billion. Today it’s topping that: Announcing a $263M Series C, led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, with the fintech startup now valued at a whopping $4.1BN — more than 3x its earlier valuation as crypto trading continues cooking on gas.

The round was signed earlier this month, just four months after the business gained unicorn status. Other participating investors include Alan Howard and REDO Ventures, with existing investors LeadBlock Partners and Jump Capital also joining the Series C.

There are a number of exchanges and trading platforms targeted at retail investors, of course, including some big US-based players. But Bitpanda has been making its mark by being Europe-focused, with offices and physical tech hubs located in eight cities across the region, including Vienna, Barcelona, Berlin, Krakow, London, Madrid, Milan, and Paris.

The platform has a further twist in that it lets its ~3 million users easily invest (commission-free) in precious metals (like gold) or in any established stock they fancy — in addition to encouraging individuals to hop aboard the crypto rollercoaster, which was its first focus. (The minimum investment amount set by the platform is €1.)

Despite diversification beyond crypto, a spokeswoman confirmed to us that crypto trading remains “the preferred choice” for Bitpanda’s current users, noting the Stocks trading product is still in beta. “With Bitpanda Stocks, we introduced (Read more...)

Minu, a Mexico City-based, pay-on-demand startup, lands a $14M Series A



Many of the startups raising capital in Mexico are focused on financial inclusion, aiming to level the playing field in a country that is largely unbanked and has a burgeoning middle class.

One such company, minu, a Mexico City-based, pay-on-demand startup, announced Wednesday that it has raised $14 million in a Series A round of funding led by FinTech Collective.

New investors VEF, XYZ Ventures, and FJ Labs, as well as DocuSign founder Tom Gonser and Gusto CFO Mike Dinsdale also participated in the financing. Existing backers QED, Next Billion Ventures, and Village Global also put more money in the company. 

The financing — which included $2.5 million in debt from Banco Sabadell Mexico — brings minu’s total raised since its 2019 inception to a total of $20 million. 

Co-founders Nima Pourshasb, Rafa Niell, and Paolo Rizzi were driven to build out a pay on demand offering in Mexico.

“We really think the lack of financial health is one of the key drivers slowing the potential and productivity of Mexican society,” Pourshasb said.

Minu aims to solve the employee liquidity gap between paychecks in an effort to help people see reduced financial stress and avoid expensive loans. The company offers 24×7 instant access to employees’ earned wages for a $2 fixed withdrawal fee.

Today, minu has over 100 large enterprise clients including TotalPlay, Telefonica, Scotiabank, OfficeMax, Rappi, Adecco, Manpower, Cap Gemini, and public sector clients such as the (Read more...)

TreeCard raises $5.1M seed to plant trees as you spend



TreeCard, a U.K. yet-to-launch fintech offering a spending card made out of wood and the promise to fund reforesting via the interchange fees generated, has raised $5.1 million in seed funding. The round is led by EQT Ventures, with participation from Seedcamp and Episode 1.

Angel investors also backing the startup include Matt Robinson (founder of GoCardless), Paul Forester (founder of Indeed) and Charlie Delingpole (founder of ComplyAdvantage). TreeCard says the funding will be used to hire talent, support the roll-out of its product across the U.K. and to expand into the U.S. and “key European markets”.

Aiming to become a “leading green finance brand”, TreeCard was founded in August 2020 by Thiel fellow Jamie Cox (who previously co-founded Cashew), Gary Wu and James Dugan. The team hit onto the idea of swapping loyalty points or cash back for tree planting, in a bid to create a fintech proposition with more societal impact.

Once signed up, you link the TreeCard app to your current bank accounts so you can begin routing your spending through the Mastercard-powered TreeCard. Purchases you then make — or, specifically, a portion of the card transaction fees your spending generates — is then put toward tree planting projects run by green search engine Ecosia, which is also a pre-seed investor in TreeCard.

“[At a] high level, the climate crisis is the biggest existential risk that humanity has faced in the last 200,000 years; we believe directing the flow of consumer finances is the most powerful (Read more...)