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Fundbox, a fintech focused on SMBs, raises $100M at a $1.1B valuation

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Fundbox, a fintech focused on SMBs, raises $100M at a $1.1B valuation

Fundbox, a company that offers loans to small businesses, announced today it has raised $100 million in a Series D round at a valuation of $1.1 billion.

Or more simply, the company aims to solve SMBs’ working capital needs through its credit and payments offerings. It is particularly focused on B2B-focused small businesses.

“We use artificial intelligence to deliver financial products that small business owners use to better run and grow their businesses,” CEO Prashant Fuloria told TechCrunch.

Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) led Fundbox’s Series D financing, which brings the company’s total equity raised to $410 million since its 2013 inception. Existing backers Allianz X, Khosla Ventures and The Private Shares Fund joined new investors including Arbor Waypoint Select Fund and a suite of BNY Mellon funds managed by Newton Investment Management North America.

San Francisco-based Fundbox last raised in 2019 — a $175 million Series C that valued the company at $700 million post-money. That same year, the company also opened its Dallas office, now its largest in the U.S., “to capitalize on the talent pool there,” according to Fuloria.

Fundbox is refreshingly transparent about its financials, at least when it comes to revenue. The startup, which saw a pandemic-related boost in business, crossed $100 million in annual revenue run rate earlier this year. Today, it is “well and truly beyond” that, Fuloria said, although it is not yet profitable as it is focused on growth, he said.

Since the company launched its first product in 2013, it has “connected with” over 325,000 small businesses and transacted over $2.5 billion in working capital, the executive added. In 2021, Fundbox tripled its new customer acquisition rate. But the majority of its revenue comes from existing customers, who Fuloria describes as “incredibly loyal.” He believes one of the company’s biggest differentiators — besides its use of AI and data — is that it is focused on SMBs whose customers are other businesses, rather than consumers.

For example, Fundbox works with SMBs that serve consumers like restaurants, such as businesses supplying food or companies supplying cleaning and staffing services to these restaurants.

“These B2B SMBs have the same challenges as everybody else except that they invoice their clients and then they wait to get paid,” Fuloria told TechCrunch. “All of this capital tied up in unpaid receivables is a huge drag on those SMBs. So one of the things that Fundbox does is provide tools to unlock that working capital that’s tied up in unpaid invoices, which actually adds up to over a trillion dollars in the U.S. alone.” Customers, he added, can receive approval in minutes, with access to capital as soon as the next business day.

Khosla led Fundbox’s Series A in 2014 and founding partner and managing director David Weiden said his firm was initially — and remains — impressed with Fundbox’s founders’ ability to recognize there were “dramatic increases in the availability of relevant data in the small business market.”

“Many companies talk about data and using AI; ironically, only a few have any data that demonstrates the actual effectiveness of their approach,” he wrote via email. “Fundbox, including over the exceptional pandemic period, delivered strong results and are on a path to continued growth and scale.”

The company’s customers range from sole proprietors with a few dozen employees and as little as a few hundred thousand dollars a year or businesses with as much as a few million dollars a year in annual revenue. Fundbox asks its customers to connect with it via some aspect of their transactional system, such as their invoicing app or even their bank account.

“We look at these business transactions sitting in their systems and put together what we call a business graph where you can imagine the nodes of the graph being all these small businesses that are trading with each other, with the customers being their vendors and the connections being their transactions,” Fuloria explained. “And that graph becomes our picture of the small business economy to derive signals or features that can be used to assess the risk of a B2B transaction or a B2B small business.”

Image Credits: Fundbox

The company then uses those risk assessments to provide tools, such as working capital on tap or the ability to get instant funding against an invoice. It also integrates with other companies’ technology. For example, it’s partnered with Intuit and is natively integrated inside of QuickBooks. It also shows up in places like FreshBooks’ accounting software or in Synchrony’s merchant center (Synchrony is an investor in Fundbox).

The small end of the small businesses are often ignored by large banks, Fuloria contends, because the average bank spends over $3,500 (largely in human capital) in assessing a small business’s risk. For loans that aren’t much more than that, it’s not exactly worth it. However, to be clear, Fundbox says it offers up to $150,000 in lines of credit.

“Our focus on using AI to make these decisions really helps us shine because more than 99% of all our decisions are completely automated without any human involvement whatsoever,” Fuloria said. “And that lets us really scale and serve customers very, very efficiently.”

While primarily having served as a lender, Fundbox is now expanding into payments and membership-based offerings (with the intent to generate a subscription revenue stream). The company recently launched Flex Pay, which is designed to provide small business owners with additional payment options and greater flexibility for business expenses.

For example, Fundbox Line of Credit customers now get three extra days to pay those expenses. Repayment options include a bank account, credit card or Line of Credit draw, essentially providing small business owners with another tool to buy now, pay later, according to Fuloria.

Looking ahead, next year Fundbox plans to develop a product aimed specifically at entrepreneurs with multiple small businesses as well as new businesses that lack the financial history to access capital through traditional means.
Shrirang Apte, VP of HOOPP, believes Fundbox’s performance this year speaks to the market opportunity “in disrupting the highly underserved world of small business financing, which has traditionally lagged behind consumer financing innovations.”

Fundbox plans to use its new capital to expand its 300-person team, customer acquisition and expanding its product offerings. It recently hired a handful of new execs, including two former Capital One veterans — Khary Scott and Shawn Haigh to serve as VP and head of partnerships and VP of growth marketing, respectively.

Source: Tech

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Dashworks is a search engine for your company’s sprawling internal knowledge

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As a company grows, the amount of important information employees need to keep track of inevitably grows right along with it. And, as your tech stack gets more complicated, that information ends up split up across more places — buried in Slack threads, tucked into Jira tickets, pushed as files on Dropbox, etc.

Dashworks is a startup aiming to be the go-to place for all of that internal knowledge. Part landing page and part search engine, it hooks into dozens of different enterprise services and gives you one hub to find what you need.

On the landing page front, Dashworks is built to be your work laptop’s homepage. It’s got support for broadcasting company wide announcements, building out FAQs, and sharing bookmarks for the things you often need and can never find — your handbooks, your OKRs, your org charts, etc.

More impressive, though, is its cross-tool search. With backgrounds in natural language processing at companies like Facebook and Cresta, co-founders Prasad Kawthekar and Praty Sharma are building a tool that allow you to ask Dashworks questions and have them answered from the knowledge it’s gathered across all of those aforementioned Slack threads, or Jira tickets, or Dropbox files. It’ll give you a search results page of relevant files across the services you’ve hooked in — but if it thinks it knows the answer to your question, it’ll just bubble that answer right to the top of the page, Google Snippets style.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Right now Dashworks can hook into over 30 different popular services, including Airtable, Asana, Confluence, Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, Intercom, Jira, Notion, Slack, Salesforce, Trello, and a whole bunch more — with more on the way, prioritized by demand.

Giving another company access to all of those services and the knowledge within might be unsettling — something the Dashworks team seems quite aware of. Kawthekar tells me that their product is SOC-2 certified, that all respective data is wiped from their servers if you choose to disconnect a service, and that, for teams that are equipped to host the tool themselves, they offer a fully on-prem version.

This week Dashworks is announcing that it raised a $4M round led by Point72 ventures, backed by South Park Commons, Combine Fund, Garuda Ventures, GOAT Capital, Unpopular Ventures, and Starling Ventures. Also backing the round is a number of angels, including Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear and Gusto co-founders Josh Reeves and Tomer London. The company was also a part of Y Combinator’s W20 class.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Source: Tech

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Daily Crunch: Google will offer G Suite legacy edition users a ‘no-cost option’

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To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PST, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 28, 2022! It’s nearly blizzard o’clock where I am, so please enjoy the following newsletter as my final missive before hunkering down. In happier and better news, TechCrunch Early Stage is coming up in just a few months and not only am I hype about it, I’ll hopefully be there IRL. See you soon! – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Google invests up to $1B in Airtel: With a $700 million investment and $300 million in “multi-year commercial agreements” with Airtel, and Indian telco, Google has made its second major bet on Indian infra. Recall that Google also put money into Jio, another Indian telco. The deal underscores the importance of the country in the future of technology revenues.
  • What’s ahead for Europe: On the heels of news that European startups had an outsized 2021 when it came to fundraising, TechCrunch explored what’s ahead for the continent. Some expect a slowdown from peak activity, while others anticipate further acceleration. Regardless of which perspective you favor, European venture investment is expected to remain elevated for some time to come.
  • Zapp raises $200M: And speaking of European startups, Zapp, the U.K.-based quick-convenience delivery startup, just raised a massive Series B. The company previously raised $100 million, meaning that this round was big in absolute and comparative terms. As we see some consolidation in the fast-delivery space, this deal caught our eye.

Startups/VC

  • Are charter cities the future for African tech growth? TechCrunch’s Tage Kene-Okafor has a great piece up on the site noting that “African cities have the fastest global urban growth rate,” which is leading to overcrowding. Some folks think that “charter cities offer a solution.” Special economic zones of all types have been tried before – will they offer African tech a faster route forward?
  • Personalized learning is hot: Our in-house edtech expert Natasah Mascarenhas has a great piece out today on personalized learning startups – Learnfully, Wayfinder, Empowerly, and others – that are taking the lessons of remote schooling to heart and working to make products that work better for our kids. It’s an encouraging, fascinating story.
  • Rise wants to remake team calendaring: There is no shortage of apps in the market to help individuals and teams work together. But we might not need as many as we have. That’s why Rise is making me think. The team calendaring app just raised a few million, and could replace a few tools that myself and friends use. I wonder if the solution to the Tool Overload of 2022 is tools that do less, intentionally.
  • Canvas wants non-tech folks to be able to squeeze answers from data: Developers are in short supply, so no-code tools that allow folks who don’t sling code to do their own building are blowing up. Similarly, a general dearth of data science talent in the market is creating space for tools like Canvas, which “is going all in with a spreadsheet-like interface for non-technical teams to access the information they need without bothering data teams,” TechCrunch reports.
  • Zigbang buys Samsung IoT business: The IoT promises of yesteryear are coming true, and not. Samsara recently went public on the back of its IoT business. That was a win for the category. That Zigbang, a South Korean proptech startup, is buying Samsung’s IoT unit feels slightly less bullish.
  • Series F-tw? Once upon a time I would have mocked a Series F as indication that the company in question had failed to go public. But that was then. Today Series Fs are not that rare. Indian B2B marketplace Moglix just raised one, which doubled its valuation to $2.6 billion. Tiger co-led the $250 million round.

And if you are looking down the barrel of a blizzard, TechCrunch’s Equity podcast has your downtime covered. Enjoy!

European, North American edtech startups see funding triple in 2021

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

Pre-pandemic, VCs were notoriously reluctant to invest in education-related companies. Today, edtech startups are seeing higher average deal sizes, more seed and pre-seed funding from non-VC investors, and an influx of generalists.

According to Rhys Spence, head of research at Brighteye Ventures, funding for edtech startups based in Europe and North America trebled over the last year.

“Exciting companies are spawning across geographies and verticals, and even generalist investors are building conviction that the sector is capable of producing the same kind of outsized returns generated in fintech, healthtech and other sectors,” writes Spence.

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Northern Light Venture Capital’s He Huang says the Chinese robotics market is overheated: Per the investor, robotics in China is “riddled with speculation and overvalued companies,” calling the situation a bubble. It’s worth noting that China’s central government is working to retool where its tech investment dollars flow.
  • Robinhood goes down, back up: This morning, in the wake of the company’s lackluster earnings report, TechCrunch dug through why Robinhood’s stock sold off in after-hours, pre-market, and early trading sessions yesterday and today. And then Robinhood turned around and gained ample ground during the rest of the day. It’s a weird market moment, but good news for the U.S. fintech all the same.
  • Google to allow legacy G Suite users to move to free accounts: After angering techies still using the “G Suite legacy free edition” by announcing that it was ending the program and requiring payment, the search giant has decided to ”offer more options to existing users,” TechCrunch reports. Somewhere inside of Google, a business decision just met the market and was flipped on its head. Makes you wonder who is calling the shots over there, and if they previously worked for McKinsey.

TechCrunch Experts

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images

TechCrunch wants you to recommend growth marketers who have expertise in SEO, social, content writing and more! If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.

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3 experiments for early-stage founders seeking product-market fit

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At Human Ventures, we have a fund for pre-seed and seed-stage investments, a venture studio and an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program.

Through this work, we’ve discovered a lot about how different founders fulfill their journey of customer discovery and product-market fit. One of the largest challenges for pre-seed and seed stage founders is determining where to start: There are a million things to do. What should you do at each stage?

We interviewed three founders from our portfolio, all of whom ran discovery experiments to find their product-market fit at different stages of their company’s development.

Here’s what they had to share:

Pre-MVP/customer discovery phase: Tiny Organics

Tiny Organics is a plant-based baby and toddler food company on a mission to shape childrens’ palates so they’ll choose and love vegetables from their earliest days. The company raised $11 million in their Series A in 2021 and is growing at over 500% annually.

Founders Sofia Laurell and Betsy Fore joined our venture studio as EIRs and went through a six-week discovery sprint. As Sofia explains, they knew they wanted to build something to make parents’ lives easier and threw a lot of initial ideas at the wall from the Finnish baby box 2.0 (Sofia is Finnish) to an easier way to create Instagrammable baby pictures.

They went through multiple exercises to test the viability of new parents’ most pressing and urgent needs:

  • Conduct a “Start with Why” exercise
  • Define the “Jobs to be Done”
  • Create a lean canvas for each (viable) concept
  • Define the user journeys
  • Conduct user surveys using platforms like pollfish.com and 1Q (instant survey tool)
  • Identify and define their customer personas
  • Conduct customer interviews and synthesize them
  • Construct concept prototypes

They also met prospective customers, conducting a focus group of 10-15 moms. When the founders asked them to text them what they were feeding their children along with pictures for a week, they realized the lack of healthy finger foods in the market, thus sparking the idea for Tiny Organics.

Source: Tech

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