B2B Payments

B2B Investment Tracker, May 15-22

Just like the weather, things are heating up for B2B startups. Following last week’s slow flow of new investments, the market saw significant activity this week as more than $210 million was raised over the past seven days. FinTech and alternative lending led the way, but sectors including payments modernization, data visualization and business travel analysis got some of the action, too.

Fintech holding company eProdigy announced the largest investment of the week on Tuesday (May 19) $100 million through a term loan, a convertible note and participation rights. The deal with an unnamed private equity firm will enable eProdigy increase the types of businesses its lending platform serves. “This deal changes our entire playbook,” eProdigy CEO David Rubin said in a statement. “Previously, we were only able to focus on making merchant cash advances to higher risk merchants. Thanks to this new facility and our lower cost of capital, we’ll be able to target A and B credit borrowers, offer a broader range of products, and provide more competitive terms and rates.” The funds will also be used to scale origination operations and to prep their infrastructure for anticipated growth.

Online lender Argon Credit secured a $75 million debt facility on Wednesday (May 20), pushing the total raised by the company to $81 million. The Illinois-based startup positions themselves as heavier on the “tech” than the “fin” focusing on their use of data-driven algorithms to determine creditworthiness. Using proprietary artificial intelligence software, Aragon analyzes thousands of data points in less than 100 milliseconds to deeply understand borrowers. Argon CEO Raviv Wolfe believes the “analytical and sociological approach” personalizes the lending experience. The growth capital comes from Princeton Alternative Funding.

As alternative finance matures, how potential businesses are evaluated is also changing. Early-stage company Friendly Score uses social media data and to build credit risk profiles. Merica Fund Management announced a $235,000 (£150,000) investment Wednesday in the B2B SaaS platform, which will be available to mobile phone companies, credit service providers and banks. Rob Johnson investment director at Merica Fund Management noted Friendly Score’s rapid growth. In just five months the company has signed pilot deals with as-yet-unnamed major players.

Harnessing the power of data continues to be a trend across the B2B universe and investors are ready to back startups that make the process easier for the end user. Tuesday was an especially busy day for Big Data problem solvers.

Designed to make data visualization easier for the not-so-tech-savvy, DataHero captured $6.1 million in Series A funding. The SaaS transforms pre-defined data, from popular software including Salesforce.com and Eventbrite, into highly visual data dashboards. Foundry Group led the round of funding, which brings the company’s total to $10.6 million, after $4.5 million in seed rounds. The company also announced seasoned executive Ed Miller will join the company as CEO. Founder Chris Neumann will transition into chief product officer role after Miller’s arrival. Neumann said with a new round of funding and a fast-growing market, now was the time to add a more experienced executive on board to lead DataHero through its next phases.

Also on Tuesday, German predictive analytics platform bd4travel announced a $4.2 million round of Series A funding led by Hoxton Ventures with Talis Capital and Robin Klein of The Accelerator Group. Aimed at the online travel industry, the platform analyzes a user’s interactions and presents products and services in real time. “When our customers see that we can generate rich user profiles and predict the travel wishes for anonymous site visitors, when all they’ve seen before is their traffic numbers, clickstream and CRM measures, they tend to be pretty blown away,” Andy Owen-Jones, CEO of bd4travel said in a statement about the investment.

Closing $28 million in Series A funding puts Ripple Labs one step closer to its vision of the Internet of Value (IoV). “Our mission is to modernize decades-old payments infrastructure with IP-based technology so value moves around the world as freely, easily, securely and transparently as information on the web today,” Ripple Labs CEO and co-founder Chris Larsen said Tuesday. “Financial institutions, market makers and corporations are laying the foundation for this Internet of Value, contributing and providing liquidity for global payments.” Multiple investors including IDG Capital Partners and the venture arm of CME GROUP funded the round.

It’s been a fairly busy week for both B2B startups and their funders. Expanding operations to keep up with pace of growth, Boston’s OpenView Venture Partners added three new members to its team. Allie Letourneau joins OpenView as senior accountant, moving from PricewaterhouseCoopers Asset Management Division. Formerly of BetterCloud, Gail Axelrod will take over the public relations and community management responsibilities. Kelsey Heavey transitions to an analyst role from a sales and marketing position at Boston-based company Fiksu.

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