Sao Paulo and Mexico City — In a week where even the largest tech companies in the world are preparing for a recession scenario —Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Spotify (SPOT), and Google (GOOGL) announced a slower pace in their hiring process— some startups managed to prove their value to investors and got funded in Latin America in recent days. That’s the case of fintech FinanZero in Brazil, and the Mexican HRtech Hitch.
Swedish-founded fintech FinanZero operates in Brazil since 2016 as a banking correspondent. The online lending marketplace just announced a round of $4.1 million (nearly R$22 million) from VEF, Webrock Ventures, Dunross & CO, and Atlant Fonder.
The fintech works with nearly 30 bank partners with API Integrations and 64 partners in financial institutions, with whom it provides loan offers. FinanZero had raised $7 million in April 2021. It says over the last 12 months after the round it grew 122% in revenue compared to the year before. But when Olle Widén, CEO, and co-founder at FinanZero, went searching for this new round, things changed.
“Since we have a lot of European investors one of the biggest triggers for this mindset change was when the war started in Ukraine. We were already talking about fundraising, but things changed. So we had a period (of) conversations with the board, conversations with shareholders and investors looking into what was happening with other fintechs. Our strategy had to change,” said Widén, in an interview with Bloomberg Línea.
FinanZero tried slightly higher terms and valuation in talks with investors before the war in Ukraine, but Widén says he is satisfied he raised the money in a challenging time for startups. “I talked to a lot of founders and entrepreneurs, it’s an extremely tough time now. There’s no time for an entrepreneur, you need your runway. Growth companies work with such a short runway between investors round, it’s kinda crazy, to be honest.”
Widén says he looks forward to having a sustainable business while still having control of it. “It’s new challenges for startups but it’s also maybe an adjustment that makes sense for the market with some crazy valuations,” he says.
The new investment comes with a commitment to think about sustainability in the business and have a clear route to breakeven in 2023.
FinanZero has 80 employees and says it has been adjusting down its burn rate and promising profitability instead of growth to its investors.
“We are still expecting strong growth this year. But the mindset changed, we are focusing a bit less on this volume, bringing more value with what we have,” said Widén.
“Growth companies work with such a short runway between investors round, it’s kinda crazy, to be honest.”Olle Widén
Widén said that although he hasn’t done any big layoffs, the fintech is reviewing people as it is working with lesser volumes monthly. But at the same time, it has raised money to hire tech people.
“We are planning and we already adjusted down the media budget and marketing budget. It’s part of our smart spending, smart investing this money, and to be honest showing the respect of the money to our shareholders, our investors, and making it last longer.”
FinanZero invested millions in marketing on Brazilian TV, but Widén says the brand is now strong enough. “We still have a lot of people coming in,” he says, adding that even though not investing so much in marketing, the fintech had a 100% return on the media invested in the past.
The company says it will use the money to continue investing in technology to have so much data that banks will need to work with it and use FinanZero’s score.
FinanZero says it currently has a database with 31 million loan requests made and, monthly, it reaches about 1.5 million credit requests made directly in the search engine, an 82% increase in loan applications for the six months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
The Mexican HR-Tech startup Hitch raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round co-led by Evergreen Mountain Equity Partners and StartFast Ventures, which also counted the participation of other venture capital funds and angel investors including Pareto Ventures, Stevon Darling, and Rahul Desai, among others.
Founded in 2020 Hitch works with recruitment and selection processes to make them more efficient, simpler, and assertive by using Artificial Intelligence.
“We realized that the hiring of new talent in companies, early turnover, and the lack of and the lack of digital solutions is a big and costly problem for companies,” said Gabriela Ceballos, CEO & Co-Founder of Hitch.
Ceballos wants Hitch to operate transparent and unbiased hiring processes.