Bloomberg Línea — Welcome to the rounds of the week. Even amid the economic downturn, startups in the region are continuing to garner financing rounds, and this week Ecuadorian paytech Kushki became the country’s first unicorn, with a valuation of over $1 billion, after receiving a $100 million extension for its Series B.
New faces and old participated in the round, including Kaszek Ventures, Clocktower Ventures, SoftBank Latin America Fund and DILA Capital, among others. In total, the Ecuadorian startup, which became Latin America’s 46th unicorn, raised $186 million in the combined Series B round.
Kushki recorded 200% growth in 2021. “Reaching this milestone in times of economic uncertainty is evidence of the quality and resilience of our entire team and the enormous Latin American talent that exists in the region,” said Aron Schwarzkopf, CEO and co-founder of Kushki, in the announcement of its newly minted unicorn status.
Colombia’s Muni also received $27 million in a Series A investment, and Mexico’s Klar $90 million to reach a $500 million valuation.
And when it comes to early-stage investment rounds, capital hasn’t stopped flowing into the segment either.
Following are this week’s early-stage rounds:
Founded in 2019 between MIT and San Francisco by Brazilian entrepreneurs, Zippi, an instant credit payment method for self-employed micro-entrepreneurs, raised 82 million reais ($16.4 million) in a Series A round led by Tiger Global, with participation from Y Combinator, Volpe Capital, Rainfall Ventures, Globo Ventures, Hummingbird, Mantis, MSA Capital and Soma Capital.
This was the first financing for the startup’s founder and CEO, André Bernardes.
“We entered the payments and fintech sector because the three founders are passionate about this sector. And our solution came driven by the Pix revolution,” Bernardes said in an interview with Bloomberg Línea.
With Pix, micro-entrepreneurs have developed a digital buying and selling behavior, according to Bernardes, which created the opportunity to develop a new instant credit payment method on top of the infrastructure created by the Central Bank’s payment system.
“A digital trace of the customer was created that nobody could understand before. Before they transacted offline and now they are online. A large part of our effort is invested in working with this data to understand who our client is, where they are and how we can offer them the best financial products,” Bernardes said.
This is how it works: the micro-entrepreneur who buys raw materials, and previously had to pay suppliers with cash or a credit card, now has the option of using the Zippi application to request instant credit and make the payment via Pix. “We grant that working capital that allows them to run their business,” Zippi’s CEO said.
This is why the invoice payment period is short: within seven days, or the entrepreneur owes Zippi for the loan and with a 3% fee.
“The key to our technological ingredient is to understand the data of the small entrepreneur and scale the amount of limit that we will loan via this means of payment. This data comes from cash flow. Via open banking, we can understand how much the client is transacting, and when they are selling, and we have an algorithm that infers and sizes that risk. What was impossible to have done before Pix and open banking emerged in Brazil because this data did not exist,” he said.
So far, the startup has raised around $22 million and said Series A came “at the valuation it wanted”. The startup has got this far with 26 staff and now aims to double the size of the team and increase the volume transacted from six- to 10-fold, although without disclosing the exact figure.
Minds Digital, a Brazilian voice biometrics IDtech to identify and prevent fraud in financial transactions and operations, raised a Seed round of 1.5 million reais ($300,344) with the participation of BR Angels. The resources will be used to promote the product, commercial, and marketing areas of the company.
“Minds was born to support the entire national financial ecosystem, and is present in any type of market that has digital financial transactions and onboarding,” said Marcelo Peixoto, CEO of the startup, in a press release.
Mexican fintech startup Paisa has closed a $600,000 pre-seed investment round, led by venture capital firms Magma Partners, Precursor Ventures, Latitude, Forum VC and Gaingels.
The startup founded in June 2021 also had several angel investors contribute, including Courtney McColgan (founder and CEO of Runa), Loreanne García (co-founder, Kavak), Juan Zavala (co-founder and CEO of FinZi), Joshua Gordon-Blake (COO of Pangea), Anna Gincherman (a partner at ConsumerCentriX), Arif Damji (principal at Conductive Ventures), Kahini Shah and Monica Vidal (co-founder and managing director, respectively of Lattice Capital Partners), among others.
Paisa aims to bridge the financial, digital, and gender gap that traditional financial services and fintechs have left open, through loans secured by remittances, according to the company.
B2B edtech Kurios raised $2.3 million to expand into Mexico. The U.S.-based company trains corporate digital teams to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives.
Its funding and angel investors include accelerator Y Combinator (which has invested in companies such as Stripe, Dropbox, Coinbase, and Rappi, among others), Rethink Education, John Danner, Austen Allred (founder of Lambda School), Dan Sommer, and David Berger (founders of Trilogy Education), Rob Cohen (former COO and CFO of 2U, and former CFO and board member of The Princeton Review), Harvard Management Company, University of Michigan, Necessary Ventures, Integra Groupe and tech industry executives from companies such as Amazon, Uber, Netflix, Google, and Dropbox.
The Colombian foodtech startup received $2.5 million in an initial round backed by Cometa, a regional venture capital firm, and Femsa’s venture capital firm, Femsa Ventures.
Angel investors including Carolina García, co-founder of Chiper, also participated.
Cluvi saves costs for restaurants and has already managed to digitize more than 3,000 businesses in Colombia and four other Latin American countries. With this capital raise, the startup’s funding efforts adds up to more than $10 million, and which it will use mainly to promote the Cluvipay solution.