Bulgarian-founded fintech startup Payhawk has raised $112m in Series B funding at a valuation of $570m, it announced today. It comes just seven months after the London-headquartered, Sofia-born company raised $20m in its Series A round.
It's the second largest Series B round for a B2B company to come out of Eastern Europe, behind only Romanian-founded SaaS giant UiPath, which raised $153m in its Series B round back in 2018, and listed in New York earlier this year at a valuation of $35bn.
Payhawk's founders and investors will be hoping beyond hope for a similar trajectory, even if they're unlikely to get it.
Payhawk turns a fragmented process into a seamless one
This latest round was led by San Francisco-based investor Greenoaks, which has previously invested in Gorillas, Robinhood and Stripe, along with participation from existing investors including Earlybird Digital East, QED Investors and Eleven Ventures.
“Payhawk turns a fragmented process into a seamless one,” says Patrick Backhouse, a partner at Greenoaks.
Founded in 2018, Payhawk is a business-to-business platform that provides financial departments a single place to manage the entire spending lifestyle from company cards and expenses to bills and invoices. The startup claims it can save companies huge amounts of manual work and potential errors.
“Managing corporate spend is among the most frustrating parts of running a company,” says Backhouse. “It requires significant manual work that consumes employee time and introduces substantial room for error.”
In recent years the world has seen the rise of neobanks like N26, Revolut and Wise, which have dramatically changed the perception of banking services and needs for general consumers. However, according to Hristo Borisov, CEO and cofounder at Payhawk, when it comes to the corporate side things have moved far more slowly.
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“B2B payments have only really been served by banks so far,” he tells Sifted. Even so, a lot of companies are getting used to the idea that you can partner with non-traditional financial service providers, he says.
The opportunity is there. We have a superior product, and we have the opportunity to go and blitz scale
Transaction volumes through Payhawk’s platform have grown by almost 700% since its last funding round, in April, and by 45% in October alone.
The startup currently works with companies across 27 countries, and is targeted towards larger companies with operations across multiple countries, which generally use many disconnected tools for payments, invoices and expense management, Borisov says.
”The opportunity is there. We have a superior product, and we have the opportunity to go and blitz scale,” he adds.
Payhawk plans to expand quickly, setting up a physical presence in three new continents over the next 12 months. The startup already has offices in London, Sofia, Berlin and Barcelona, and aims to use the funding to open offices in the US, the Netherlands, Australia and Singapore, while tripling the size of its team to around 200.
It also plans to launch a credit card in early 2022, as well as low-cost cross-border transfers as an alternative to SWIFT payments.
“Payhawk is going to be one of the global winners in spend management software,” predicts Mehmet Atici, a partner at Earlybird Venture Capital.
I think in three years it’s going to be completely different from how banking was done, or payments were done, even four or five years ago
He points to the huge, untapped market opportunity when it comes to the transformation of often archaic finance software for SMEs and enterprises.
“Fintech trends on the B2C side are relatively well understood and easy to relate,” he says. “However, finance departments in companies have been the laggards in software adoption.”
This is likely to change, and fast, given the rise of digital-first solutions and B2B fintech platforms.
In fact, Payhawk's raise highlights the huge opportunity for B2B financial platforms right now, and the potential money flowing into the space.
“What we’re going to see now is that companies like us — which are B2B and focused on serving large enterprises — are going to be among the main fintech companies raising money, because businesses are underserved in terms of products, and it’s a massive market,” says Borisov. He adds that the B2B payment market alone is worth $1 trillion.
“I think in three years it’s going to be amazing to be a business using financial services,” he says. “It’s going to be completely different from how banking was done, or payments were done, even four or five years ago.”