B2B Payments

Bench Lands $18M For AI-Infused SMB Bookkeeping

Small and medium-sized business (SMB) bookkeeping startup Bench secured $18 million in venture capital, the company announced Wednesday (Jan. 31).

In a press release, Bench said the Series B-1 funding was led by iNovia Capital, with additional participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Altos Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. The firm plans to use the investment to focus on the development of its automation platform and for overall company growth.

“2017 was a milestone year for Bench, as our approach to human-powered automation continued to take hold in the U.S.,” said Ian Crosby, Bench co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “Together with our clients and partners, we are redefining what high-quality, cost-effective and efficient bookkeeping means, and helping small business owners and accountants build and grow their companies.”

The company claims its automation platform can reduce manual bookkeeping time for a typical bookkeeper by 75 percent. Bench has also integrated deep learning technology into its solution for enhanced automation, which means bookkeepers and accountants can focus more energy on strategic advisory services for their SMB customers.

“This new capital will accelerate the development of Bench’s cognitive augmentation platform — a key element of the company’s ability to deliver incredibly high-quality yet cost-effective bookkeeping services,” said Shawn Abbott, iNovia Capital partner and the newest member of Bench’s board. “Bench is a fantastic application of iNovia’s future of work thesis. We look forward to working with the team as they advance their product and bring Bench to a broader audience.”

The SMB accounting and bookkeeping landscape is a rapidly evolving one, and greater pressure is placed on accountants to provide advisory services to their small business customers — particularly as technology and automation take care of administrative tasks like number-crunching.

A survey released last year by another SMB accounting company, Sage, found that 89 percent of accountants would be eager to implement new technologies. The offerings made some of their more basic tasks “invisible,” enabling them to focus on more strategic aspects of their jobs.



B2B APIs aren’t just for large enterprises anymore — middle-market firms and SMBs now realize their potential for enabling low-cost access to real-time payments and account data. But those capabilities are only the tip of the API iceberg, says HSBC global head of liquidity and cash management Diane Reyes. In this month’s B2B API Tracker, Reyes explains how the next wave of banking APIs could fight payments fraud and proactively alert middle-market treasurers to investment opportunities.