Miami — By Marcella McCarthy
Jeeves, the fintech that’s been raising back to back rounds from notable investors all summer and growing at what would adequately be described as an insane pace, makes another headline. Today, the “remote first” company which first launched in Mexico and is building an “all in one expense management platform” for global startups, announced the launch of a new growth product. It will leverage a revenue-based financing model and make it easier for startups and other companies with recurring revenue to raise debt capital. The company also said it’s “testing out” Miami as a possible headquarters.
“Debt is cheaper than equity and a lot more flexible, and less dilution for the founders,” said Matt Hafemeister. He’s the former partner at a16z (also known as Andreessen Horowitz) who recently left the prestigious Silicon Valley firm to serve as head of growth at Jeeves, and whose idea it was for the new product, the company tells me. Hafemeister, who is no more than 20 something - having graduated college in 2017 and highschool in 2013 (according to his LinkedIn) - spent his 4-year career as a partner a16z before joining Jeeves.
But first, let’s recap. Hafemeister got to know the company and its founders when a16z led its $131 million Series A, which closed May 2021 and was announced in June of this year. The company subsequently raised a $57 million Series B at a $500 million valuation which was announced earlier this month.
“Today we’re operational in 20 countries. Last year at this point we were operational in, well, zero,” said Dileep Thazhmon, Jeeves co-founder and CEO. To be clear, last year at this point the company had just wrapped-up Y Combinator’s Summer 2020 batch. If this story so far sounds like a whirlwind, it’s because it has been.
Thazhmon, a third-time founder, told Bloomberg Línea that the company spent about 12 months in stealth mode building its tech stack before it emerged with a steller roster of angel investors including the likes of Nubank CEO David Velez, Kavak CEO Carlos Garcia, Rappi co-founder Sebastian Mejia, Bitso CEO Daniel Vogel and Loft CEO Florian Hagenbuch, to name a few.
The LatAm unicorn investors caught wind of Jeeves early on because the company first launched in the region.
Why All the Hype?
Few companies launch with a global product from day one, but that was exactly Thazhmon’s plan. As the former founder of a company with operations in Israel and the U.S. he knew first hand what a pain it was to have your startup’s finances in multiple currencies. He also learned that in Latin America, a corporate credit card can be especially hard to come by and for startups, it was a complete non-starter. As we enter a decade initiated by a pandemic and with much of the corporate workforce moving home - or wherever they want - borders have virtually faded and more and more companies have global operations. While work-life has become easier in many respects, this migration has made the back office and financial reconciliation more of a headache. Like Thazhmon, startups are feeling the same growing pains he did.
With a corporate credit card that offers 30 days of credit that can be paid back in multiple currencies the startup emerged as a fan favorite. “If you expand from Mexico to Brazil, we can just change everything on the backend, but you can pay us back in Pesos or Reais,” Thazhmon said. “We offer capital in any currency where we’re live,” Hafemeister added
And going “live” in new markets for Jeeves was easy, because like Uber, they built a tech stack that could just be “turned on” in new markets. Today they are in Spanish-speaking LatAm, Brazil - which they consider separately because of its language and mammoth proportions - UK/Europe and Canada/U.S.
What started as a fintech that offered a corporate card for startups, has quickly ballooned into a company that offers revenue based financing, which is finance speak for getting a loan today based on your future revenues; that’s the first product Hafemeister will be leading. Unlike some other startups in a similar space (think Miami-based Pipe), Jeeves underwrites the loans itself, which is why when it raised its Series A, about $100 million of it was in debt.
The idea here is that founders can close on up to $10 million in debt in 24 hours, the company says.
Hafemeister proclaimed, “Debt capital markets are finally open to LatAm!”
Many startup founders have found themselves doing the horse and pony show of running a startup by day while simultaneously being on the road raising capital. Besides it being utterly exhausting, it takes their eye off the prize - their startup’s growth and bottom line. The faster they can get the cash in the bank without having to dilute themselves to extinction, the faster they can get back to the work they started out to do in the first place: solve a problem and make money while doing it.
Eye on Miami
When I interviewed Thazhmon on the phone, he was in Austin, but told me that next week he would be arriving in Miami to test the city out for three months. The company doesn’t currently have a headquarters and has about 10 employees in the U.S. - the other 55 are spread throughout the globe. By year end, he expects to have “150-170″ employees, and he’s looking for a place for Jeeves to call home. “I’m originally from Florida - outside Orlando - so this wouldn’t be totally new to me,” he said.