We had barely begun digesting Pioneers ’19 when we heard the news that one of our former startup winners had just secured a $56 million Series B funding round led by Stripes. Pleo, the Danish Fintech startup that took honours in our flagship event in 2016 (see below), thus became the most successful of our alumni (in funding terms) to date.
Pleo is an all-in-one business spending platform that provides smart company cards to automate expense reports, thus saving companies and their employees time, money, paperwork and hassle. Having raised $16 million in their Series A round just last year, Pleo’s new injection of funds brings its total raised to $79 million.
“We’ve built Pleo to allow modern leaders to empower and trust all their employees to buy stuff for work, whilst making it transparent and safe,” say Jeppe Rindom, Pleo’s Co-Founder and CEO. “By putting our primary focus on the employee experience from day one, we have been able to achieve outstanding growth, receive rave reviews and enjoy strong customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Today Pleo has 120 employees, but when they applied to attend our flagship event (then Pioneers Festival) in 2016, they had raised less than a million and had a single-digit workforce. As the screenshot from below shows, our Piobay digital platform is also an immaculate historical record-keeper!
With all those millions raised, 3,500 companies now using the platform in four big European markets and plans to grow the team to 400 by the end of next year, Pleo has exploded well beyond eligibility to apply for one of our pitching events (€3 million is our maximum funding limit) any time soon. But that’s exactly what we want to see!
“Nothing gives us greater pleasure than to see any of the startups from our history hit the big time,” says Pioneers CEO Oliver Csendes. “When it’s one of our former winners at our flagship event, then it’s an especially good validation of our selection and jury process. Our goal is to give innovators the network to succeed, and Pleo are clearly doing that. This is the reason we come to work every day, and so we’re celebrating with them this week.”
While Pleo’s incredibly simple core offering hasn’t changed – why fix something that’s not broken? – they now want to build on that with a strategy to own the entire purchase experience within business. The vision includes adding credit, invoiced, mobile payments, a vendor marketplace, VAT reclaim and much more. The latest funding will be used to fuel this product development as well as further rapid growth across Europe.
“While we are competing with banks in this one area, we’re not aiming to become one,” explains Rindom. “Instead we’re focused on being the best product for business spending, providing a brilliant experience before, during and after a purchase is made.”
We like to think that pitching successfully on the Arena Stage at our flagship event is a good omen for any startup. The latest to do so was Storyball, a smart toy company from Israel. Find out more about them and their seven fellow finalists from Pioneers ’19 here. Oh, and come back in a year or three for news of their own Series B funding rounds 🙂
Want to know how our other former winners have gotten on in their growth stories? Check out our full roll of honour here.