B2B Payments

B2B Investment Tracker, March 13-20

Last week may have been quiet in the B2B investment front, but this week bucked that investment slump. Maybe it was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s fierce declaration of the dawn of Software-as-a-Service, but B2B SaaS providers certainly received attention in the form of $4.85 million worth of investment. There was a lot of focus on marketing software, but eCommerce raised noteworthy new funds as well. In the end, it was alternative lender Fundbox that secured the highest investment with a $40 million contribution.

Marketing SaaS

The week began with new funds boosting the B2B SaaS space, especially for marketing startups aiming to boost B2B sales. B2B SaaS startup Altocloud emerged from stealth mode since its launch in 2013 and revealed $2 million in financial backing on Monday (March 16). The company, whose lending was spearheaded by Delta Partners, Digical Group and ACT Venture Capital, stands as the first SaaS provider to pinpoint businesses’ optimal online visitors to deliver custom voice, video and chat content at strategic moments in that visitor’s time on the site. Its innovative technology uses sophisticated software to aid businesses in boosting sales.

“There is a better route to digital customer engagement than yesterday’s 1-800 numbers, random chat popups and disjointed telephone conversations,” Altocloud CEO Barry O’Sullivan said in a statement announcing the new funding. “Our platform enhances existing marketing and sales software so that companies doing business online can reach out to prospects at a time when they’re most interested, to drive increased sales.”

The solution, Altocloud says, is a pioneering way to connect marketing with communication, and uses machine-learning technology and real time communication to interact with customers. The service, which Altocloud said does not require extra infrastructure to integrate into businesses’ existing back-end operations, can analyze whether businesses should connect a customer to a sales representative or simply recommend a product, for example.

The latest funding brings Altocloud’s total financial backing to $3 million, reports said.

Just days later, on Thursday (March 19), another B2B SaaS provider with a focus in marketing nabbed new backing. Azalead locked down $2.13 million thanks to venture capital fund Aurinvest, as well as other angel investors. The business uses algorithms and pattern learning to facilitate corporate consumer engagement between online visitors and business sales representatives, according to reports. Azalead has also launched the ability for its software to integrate with advertisement exchanges so business clients can automatically target marketing efforts.

“Azalead is leading the market with a new generation of B2B marketing automation that works without email and targets business prospects with display ads,” Azalead CEO and co-founder Nick Heys said in a statement. “Aurinvest shares our vision for a new world of B2B marketing and are important partners as we look to expand our platform and sales team.”

The venture capitalist highlighted its support of the growth of B2B marketing software. “B2B marketing is a huge opportunity for SaaS,” said Aurinvest managing partner Geoffroy Bragadir.

eCommerce

This week didn’t go without new support of the B2B eCommerce space. Monday also included the news that B2B eCommerce marketplace Asseta, based in San Francisco, has nabbed $1 million in seed funding from several high-profile investors including Red Swan Ventures, Zpark Venture, FundersClub and Winklevoss Capital.

In its announcement, Asseta revealed new backing that will be used to expand its sales and engineering units for overall company growth. Asseta offers a platform for businesses to buy and sell capital equipment and spare parts.

At the end of 2013, Asseta revealed $535,000 in funding. Today, the corporation sees 20 percent growth every month, according to Asetta co-founder and CEO Anton Brevde, and the business refocused its position from the used equipment industry to the spare parts market. “After launching, we realized that equipment transactions were too infrequent to build a true marketplace,” he said. “Focusing on spare parts allowed us to dramatically increase the frequency we were transacting with our customers.”

At the start, Brevde said, Asseta completed between one and four deals a year. Today, the business completes between 20 and 40 every month.

Manufacturers remain Asseta’s core consumer base, but the platform includes a wide inventory of new and used parts for dealers and brokers. The eCommerce marketplace charges a 10 percent fee on each completed transaction, reports said. Looking ahead, Brevde said that with the help of the latest financial funding, the corporation will likely re-emerge in the used machinery and equipment industry, but overall wants to encourage hardware development. “We want to lower the barriers of entry and make hardware innovation cheaper by providing reliable access to capital equipment and spare parts for a fraction of the cost of new,” Brevde said.

Other venture capitalists put their money in startups focusing on both eCommerce and SaaS. Singapore-based startup Oddle, for instance, raised $718,000 to expand its operations. Oddle provides an e-market platform and SaaS for restaurants to facilitate online ordering, though the company additionally offers online delivery and pick-up logistics. The SaaS provider also provides consumer behavior insights to its partner restaurants.

Through the new funding announced Monday, led by investors East Ventures and Warner Music Asia Pacific’s former CEO Holly Tan, Oddle said it will now look to spread operations across Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia. At just one year old, Oddle said it has already facilitated $1.4 million worth of online transactions and experiences a 20 percent month-on-month growth.

The backing follows last August’s announcement that Oddle received funding from an angel investor, though the company did not disclose how much it raised.

Alt-Finance

Thursday also came with the announcement that SME alternative lender Fundbox secured $40 million in Series B funding, headed by investors General Catalyst Partners, according to reports, along with other existing backers.

Fundbox looks to fill the small business credit gap, the company said, noting that a recent U.S. Bank study found that 82 percent of business failures can be blamed on a lack of adequate cash flow management. Through its efforts, Fundbox reported a 300 percent quarter-over-quarter growth over the last 18 months.

According to Fundbox CEO Eyal Shinar, the latest funding will be used to continue that accelerated growth. “This investment provides Fundbox with greater capacity and resources to bring data science-backed financing solutions to small business owners in the U.S.,” he said. The company added that its ability to provide advances for businesses to pay their bills aims to eliminate the problem SMEs face of 30-, 60- and 90-day gaps between a purchase and a payment.

But Fundbox’s efforts reach beyond small business financing, the executive said. The solution directly embeds itself into existing business operations and its current e-invoicing, payroll and accounting software. The financing provided by Fundbox, Shinar said, connects directly to outstanding bills on that network. “Our vision transcends just cash flow solutions, as our propriety data-driven engines can fundamentally transform and modernize the entire small business economy and B2B transactions,” he said.

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