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Business banking startup Qonto raises $552 million at $5 billion valuation

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French startup Qonto has raised a $552 million Series D funding round (€486 million). Following this investment, the startup has reached a valuation of $5 billion (€4.4 billion). This is one of the largest rounds in the French tech ecosystem.

Qonto is a challenger bank focused on business bank accounts. The startup focuses primarily on small and medium companies as well as freelancers. It currently operates in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Tiger Global and TCV are leading today’s funding round. With 220,000 clients, Qonto still plans to grow at a rapide pace in the coming years. “Our goal is to reach one million SMEs by 2025,” co-founder and CEO Alexandre Prot told me. “And we know that Tiger and TCV have supported quite a few companies to reach that scale.”

Some new investors are also participating in the round, such as Alkeon, Eurazeo, KKR, Insight Partners, Exor Seeds, Guillaume Pousaz, Gaingels and Ashley Flucas. Existing investors Valar, Alven, DST Global and Tencent are putting more money on the table as well.

That’s quite a long list of investors and Qonto proves once again that private equity firms are actively looking for late-stage growth rounds in Europe.

Image Credits: Qonto

From everyday banking to an all-in-one finance solution

What’s interesting with Qonto is that it’s a truly European startup. In the U.S., spend management solutions, such as Brex and Ramp, have been massively successful. As The Information’s Kate Clark reported, they want to replace American Express and hand out corporate cards to millions of employees in the U.S.

Qonto started out with business bank accounts because that’s the key financial component of European companies. Many companies use their bank accounts directly to move money around. They initiate transfers, share their bank account number (IBAN) to receive a payment and set up direct debits to pay bills.

And Qonto does that really well. You can sign up from a computer and get a local IBAN a few minutes later. After that, you can also order debit cards to pay with your card.

At first, Qonto relied heavily on a third-party banking partner — Treezor. The startup then applied to get its own license to become a payment institution. In 2020, Qonto moved all its clients to its in-house core banking system. The company now owns this critical part of the technical stack.

Qonto has expanded beyond the simple bank account. The startup’s CEO Alexandre Prot defines Qonto as three different products rolled into a single service. In addition to the everyday banking part, it also simplifies bookkeeping and accounting. It can become your spend management solution as well.

On the bookkeeping front, Qonto lets you export or sync with your existing accounting solution. This is a fragmented market as each country uses different accounting tools. For instance, you can export your data to Cegid if you’re a French company, you can synchronize with Datev if you’re a German company, etc. Qonto users can also import receipts directly in their Qonto account.

As for spend management, Qonto lets you hand out physical, virtual or one-time cards to employees. Admins can set up different spending limits, an approval workflow and all the usual stuff that you get from a spend management solution. It might not be as feature complete as a dedicated product, such as Spendesk, but it could be enough for small companies.

For everything else, Qonto partners with other fintech startups. For instance, customers can open a credit line with October and borrow €15,000 to €30,000. Customers can also open a savings account with Cashbee and its banking partner My Money Bank.

Image Credits: Qonto

A single bank account

There are 220,000 companies paying for Qonto every month. Pricing ranges from €9 per month for the most basic freelancer account to €249 per month for enterprise accounts. On top of that, some companies pay more to get more cards or when they go above certain limits.

What makes the business model even more lucrative is that a lot of customers just sign up on their own. When they create their company, they use Qonto for the initial capital deposit in order to register the company. Essentially, Qonto combines inbound marketing with the high margins of a SaaS product.

“Around a third of our customers created their companies with us. It’s their first account and the only one that they use,” Alexandre Prot said. “Two-thirds of our customers are companies that existed before they opened an account with us. Roughly half of them close their existing bank account, half of them use Qonto in parallel with one or several accounts.”

With today’s funding round, the company plans to grow its team from 500 employees to 2,000 people by 2025. Qonto will also invest heavily in its existing markets. “We will be able to invest more than €100 million on each of our markets,” Prot said. While there are still a lot of SMEs that are not using Qonto in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, Qonto also plans to enter new market in 2023.

Source: Tech

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Paack pulls in a $225M Series D led by SoftBank to scale its E-commerce delivery platform

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By now, many of us are familiar with the warehouse robots which populate those vast spaces occupied by the likes of Amazon and others. In particular, Amazon was very much a pioneer of the technology. But it’s 2021 now, and allying warehouse robots with a software logistics platform is no longer the monopoly of one company.

One late-stage startup which has been ‘making hay’ with the whole idea is Paack, an e-commerce delivery platform which a sophisticated software platform that integrates with the robotics which are essential to modern-day logistics operations.

It’s now raised €200m ($225m) in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The capital will be used for product development and European expansion.

New participants for this round also include Infravia Capital Partners, First Bridge Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst. Returning investors include Unbound, Kibo Ventures, Big Sur Ventures, RPS Ventures, Fuse Partners, Rider Global, Castel Capital, and Iñaki Berenguer.

This funding round comes after the creation of a profitable position in its home market of Spain, but Paack claims it’s on track to achieve similar across its European operations, Such as in the UK, France, and Portugal.

Founded by Fernando Benito, Xavier Rosales and Suraj Shirvankar, Paack now says it’s delivering several million orders per month from 150 international clients, processing 10,000 parcels per hour, per site. Some 17 of them are amongst the largest e-commerce retailers in Spain.

The startup’s systems integrate with e-commerce sites. This means consumers are able to customize their delivery schedule at checkout, says the company.

Benito, CEO and Co-founder, said: “Demand for convenient, timely, and more sustainable methods of delivery is going to explode over the next few years and Paack is providing the solution. We use technology to provide consumers with control and choice over their deliveries, and reduce the carbon footprint of our distribution.” 

Max Ohrstrand, Investment Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers said: “As the e-commerce sector continues to flourish and same-day delivery is increasingly the norm for consumers, we believe Paack is well-positioned to become the category leader both in terms of its technology and commitment to sustainability.”

According to research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the last-mile delivery business is expected to grow 78% by 2030, causing a rise in CO2 emissions of nearly one-third.

As a result, Paack claim it aims to deliver all parcels at carbon net-zero by measuring its environmental impact, using electric last-mile delivery vehicles. It is now seeking certification with The Carbon Trust and United Nations.

In an interview Benito told me: “We have a very clear short term vision which is to lead sustainable e-commerce delivers in Europe… through technology via what we think is perhaps the most advanced tech delivery platform for last-mile delivery. Our CTO was the CTO and co-founder of Google Cloud, for instance.”

“We are developing everything from warehouse automation, time windows, routing integrations etc. in order to achieve the best delivery experience.”

Paack says it is able to work with more than one robotics partner, but presently it is using robots from Chinese firm GEEK.

The company hopes it can compete with the likes of DHL, Instabox, and La Poste in Europe, which are large incumbents.

Source: Tech

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Infermedica raises $30M to expand its AI-based medical guidance platform

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Infermedica, a Poland-founded digital health company that offers AI-powered solutions for symptom analysis and patient triage, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by One Peak and included participation from previous investors Karma Ventures, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Heal Capital and Inovo Venture Partners. The new capital means the startup has raised $45 million in total to date.

Founded in 2012, Infermedica aims to make it easier for doctors to pre-diagnose, triage and direct their patients to appropriate medical services. The company’s mission is to make primary care more accessible and affordable by introducing automation into healthcare. Infermedica has created a B2B platform for health systems, payers and providers that automates patient triage, the intake process and follow-up after a visit. Since its launch, Infermedica is being used in more than 30 countries in 19 languages and has completed more than 10 million health checks.

The company offers a preliminary diagnosis symptom checker, an AI-driven software that supports call operators making timely triage recommendations and an application programming interface that allows users to build customized diagnostic solutions from scratch. Like a plethora of competitors, such as Ada Health and Babylon, Infermedica combines the expertise of physicians with its own algorithms to offer symptom triage and patient advice.

In terms of the new funding, Infermedica CEO Piotr Orzechowski told TechCrunch in an email that the investment will be used to further develop the company’s Medical Guidance Platform and add new modules to cover the full primary care journey. Last year, Infermedica’s team grew by 80% to 180 specialists, including physicians, data scientists and engineers. Orzechowski says Infermedica has an ambitious plan to nearly double its team in the next 12 months.

Image Credits: Infermedica

“We will invest heavily into our people and our products, rolling out new modules of our platform as well as expanding our underlying AI capabilities in terms of disease coverage and accuracy,” Orzechowski said. “From the commercial perspective, our goal is to strengthen our position in the US and DACH and we will focus the majority of our sales and marketing efforts there.”

Regarding the future, Orzechowski said he’s a firm believer that there will be fully automated self-care bots in 5-10 years that will be available 24/7 to help providers find solutions to low acuity health concerns, such as a cold or UTI.

“According to WHO, by 2030 we might see a shortage of almost 10 million doctors, nurses and midwives globally,” Orzechowski said. “Having certain constraints on how fast we can train healthcare professionals, our long-term plan assumes that AI will become a core element of every modern healthcare system by navigating patients and automating mundane tasks, saving the precious time of clinical staff and supporting them with clinically accurate technology.”

Infermedica’s Series B round follows its $10 million Series A investment announced in August 2020. The round was led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and digital health fund Heal Capital. Existing investors Karma Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Dreamit Ventures also participated in the round.

Source: Tech

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KKR invests $45M into GrowSari, a B2B platform for Filipino MSMEs

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A sari-sari store owner who uses GrowSari

GrowSari, the Manila-based startup that helps small shops grow and digitize, announced today that KKR will lead its Series C round with a $45 million investment. The funds will be used to enter new regions in the Philippines and expand its financial products. The Series C round is still ongoing and the startup says it is already oversubscribed, with the final composition currently being finalized. 

Before its Series C, GrowSari’s total raised was $30 million. TechCrunch last wrote about GrowSari in June 2021, when it announced its Series B. Since then, it has expanded the number of municipalities it serves from 100 to 220, and now has a customer base of 100,000 micro, small and mid-sized enterprise (MSME) store owners. 

Founded in 2016, GrowSari is a B2B platform that offers almost every kind of service that small- to medium-sized retailers, including neighborhood stores that carry daily necessities (called sari-saris), roadside and market shops and pharmacies, need.

For example, it has a wholesale marketplace with products from major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands like Unilever, P&G and Nestle. It partners with over 200 providers, like telecoms, fintechs and subscription plans, so sari-saris can offer services like top-ups and bill payments to their customers. 

Sari-sari operators can also use GrowSari to launch e-commerce stores and access short-term working capital loans to buy inventory. The startup’s other financial products include digital wallets and cash-in services, and it is looking at adding remittance, insurance and loans in partnership with other providers. 

The new funding will be used to expand into the Visayas and Mindanao, the two other main geographical regions in the Philippines, with the goal of covering all 1.1 million “mom and pop” stores in the Philippines. 

Source: Tech

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