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Brazil-based flexible corporate benefits startup Caju announced on Wednesday that it has secured a $25 million Series B round led by the US-based fund K1 Investment Management, with participation from Valor Capital Group, Picus Capital, Caravela Capital, FJ Labs, and Clocktower, who were also previous investors.
Even at a challenging time for risk investments with the rise in interest rates, Caju said that its valuation increased compared to after its Series A, although it did not disclose the amount.
Data from the Latin American Private Capital Investment Association (LAVCA) show that from the beginning of the year until June, Latin American startups raised $5.4 billion in 541 transactions. In Brazil alone, $2.2 billion was plowed into 232 rounds.
Eduardo del Giglio (CEO) and Renan Mendes (CTO) founded the company two years ago with the idea of creating alternatives for the use of vouchers granted by companies to employees. The two met during a program for entrepreneurs at Brazilian venture capital firm Canary.
During the pandemic, many employees demanded alternatives to remote work, and Caju surfed the wave to offer vouchers and benefits that go beyond food, meals, and transportation.
From 2021 to date, the offer of assistance related to health and so-called “flexible benefits” have gained ground in Brazilian companies, according to the survey National Benefits Guide 2022, conducted by consultancy Leme on behalf of the French startup Swile.
According to the survey, medical assistance is the benefit most offered to employees (76.2%), while meal vouchers are offered by 75.1% of the 1,641 companies that responded to the survey. But flexible benefits companies, allowed by a law passed in Brazil this year, can now offer money along with food benefits.
Before the new law was introduced, Brazilian labor laws stipulated this was only possible to be offered to restaurants and supermarkets. According to the study, the number of companies offering flexible benefits doubled in one year, from 26.2% in 2021 to 44.2% in 2022.
Through the Visa card, employees of Caju’s client companies can choose to use their benefits among seven categories, ranging from culture (with Netflix and Spotify subscriptions), food and meals, and transportation, among other benefits.
Caju says it has 11,000 client companies in Brazil and intends to double the number of employees using the startup’s card by the end of this year.
The company began 2022 with 70 employees, but now has 190 people on the team and expects to continue hiring in the technology area.
“Our vision is not just to perform with benefits, but to bring other solutions to companies,” del Giglio said in a press release. The Series B funds will be used to explore new products.
In April, the startup launched a resource for corporate travel. Through Caju Viagens, companies can advance the resources that their employees will use on their trips.
Competing with giants in the food voucher market such as Alelo, Ticket (owned by French company Edenred), and Sodexo, Caju says its card works in any establishment that accepts the Visa banner and relates to the purpose of the categories in which there is available balance.
Ninety-percent of the benefits market is still concentrated in four companies in Brazil.
Caju operates in a similar situation to startup Swile, which uses the Mastercard brand, and does not need to negotiate with establishments that accept its card, but who gain access to the entire banner base. New challengers in the benefits market include Flash Benefícios and iFood.
Caju says that the division by category portfolios enables companies to let their employees define to which categories they want to send the value, respecting the labor legislation. The startup also said that it does not charge fees for membership, administration or delivery of the card.
In the beginning, Caju’s clients were mainly startups, such as Loft and Alice. But today, the company said it already attends to more traditional groups such as Votorantim, O Boticário, and Dafiti.
In its first year of operation, Caju raised a seed investment of 13 million reais ($2.5 million), led by Valor Capital Group and Canary. A year later, the company raised 45 million reais ($8.6 million) in its Series A with Valor Capital Group, Caravela, and Volpe Capital.