Bento for Business Raises $9 Million in New Funding

In a round led by Edison Partners and featuring participation from current investor Comcast Ventures and new investor MissionOG, Bento for Business has raised $9 million in funding. The financial management solutions provider will use the capital to bolster its marketing and engineering efforts with new hires, and to expand the Bento for Business platform across payments, spend management, and business banking.

“Time and again, research says that poorly managed business spend is the single largest threat to the profits of small and midsize businesses in the U.S.,” Bento for Business founder and CEO Farhan Ahmad explained. “We solve this problem and bring our customers an intelligent financial management solution that stops unauthorized spending before it happens.”

The funding nearly doubles Bento for Business’ total capital to $18.5 million.

Bento for Business provides SME owners with a card-based digital spending management solution that enables employers to prevent unauthorized expenditures by controlling when, where, and how much their employees spend at the point of sale. The platform stops unapproved business spend before the purchase, saving time and money on returns and cancellations. The technology also has features like receipt upload and the ability to automatically sync Bento with popular accounting systems like Quickbooks to reduce the need for expense reports.

The company’s solutions include expense cards, API virtual cards, and ghost cards. Bento’s tiered levels of service range from a free program that supports up to two cards to its enterprise level offering with unlimited cards for $149 a month. Bento does not charge a setup fee and all paid programs (Team, Professional, and Enterprise) come with free, 60-day trials.

Bento for Business demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2015. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the company was featured in Inc.com’s article 7 Cool Productivity Tools You Probably Haven’t Heard Of last month. Bento’s technology was also highlighted in CardRates.com in March, the same month the company launched its Business Fraud Risk Calculator. The calculator is a two-minute diagnostic test that identifies potential fraud risk factors at small businesses by asking questions about expense policies, receipt handling, and accounting systems.

In February, Finovate founder Jim Bruene featured Bento in his look at startup challenger banks with a small business focus. Last fall, the company unveiled a suite of new solutions, opened up its APIs, and announced a partnership with The Bancorp.

Finovate Alumni News

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Startup Challenger Banks with Small Business Focus

UK challenger, OakNorth become a financial services “unicorn” in its Nov. 2017 funding round

In the digital age, few startup banks have gained meaningful market share in what matters, revenue and profits. In the United States, only two large bank-like companies (see note 1) have emerged from 20 years of digital disruption: PayPal and Square.  There are also a handful of new online lenders that have amassed significant scale (SoFi, Lending Club, Prosper, Kabbage, Avant, On Deck).

There are still zero consumer banks started in the past 20 years that have broken the top-100 list. The possible exception was ING Direct. But as part of a large bank, it’s a stretch to call it a startup (see note 2). BofI Holdings, the public company that owns Bank of Internet, is the largest pure digital bank with $8B in assets and ranking 151 in this list posted by MX.

Why so few successes? It’s difficult for a startup bank to gain scale. First, the market is absolutely saturated. Every bankable consumer in the USA can choose from: (1) big trusted brands with a large branch networks and sophisticated digital services; (2) small community banks with deep ties to their communities (and serviceable digital banking); (3) or equally small non-profit credit unions providing bargain priced loans and deposits (and often with above average digital banking).

Second, to be successful, startups must solve a problem much better than the incumbents. For most consumers banking digitally simply is not a problem. The exceptions were in remote payments, which PayPal solved, and micro-businesses merchant accounts, which Square solved. That’s why it will likely continue to be tough for new deposit-focused banks to become big players, at least in the United States.

But there are many niches for banking startups to mine and one of the most promising is small business banking. A startup bank that solves bookkeeping and financial management problems for small businesses can be the next Square.

Here are some of the bigger efforts around the world (note 3):

UK

USA

Germany

Rest of world

  • Holvi – Finland, acquired by BBVA March 2016, Finovate alum
  • Tochka – Russia

Author: Jim Bruene (@netbanker) is Founder & Advisor at Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Certified, a financial services user-experience accreditation program. 


Notes:

  1. You can argue they are not banks, but they provide key consumer banking services, payments and credit, so I’m going to call them banks for the purposes of this post. I’m also excluding the crypto market, since it’s too soon to call the major players “bank like” though I think they are well on that path.
  2. I would probably add ING Direct to this list. Although they were technically not a startup, they built a significant deposit business from scratch, eventually selling for $9B to Capital One during the Great Recession.
  3. To make this list, the startup bank must be solely focused on small businesses and must offer, or plan to offer, a debit card to access funds held on deposit at the startup.

Bento for Business Introduces New Solutions, Partners, and APIs

US-based expense management solution provider Bento for Business has onboarded new partners and expanded its product line, reports Tanya Andreasyan of Banking Technology (Finovate’s sister publication).

Bento now offers debit and virtual cards for companies and their employees. Its banking solutions are now supported by The Bancorp Bank and CFSB as well as processors Marketa and 12C, the company said, “making it the most robust solution of its kind”.

It has also forged co-branded partnerships with The Brink’s Company and Fleetcor to offer its solution to their small business customers.

Furthermore, Bento has opened its APIs “to simplify how companies work with their clients and customers”.

“We are building a modern banking platform for small businesses that brings everything under one umbrella,” said Farhan Ahmad, CEO of Bento (pictured). “Our approach is unique in this industry because we see value in the platform, rather than a single stand-alone product. By offering multiple products on the same platform and allowing our customers to use our APIs to develop better, more useful, and customisable experiences, we can fully address all of their pain points.

“Soon any business owner will be able to curate and access the financial products, services, and integrations they need through Bento.”

According to Bento, applicants for its services get approved online in real-time.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco, Bento for Business demonstrated its platform at FinovateSpring 2015. Last month, the company appointed Jeff Pomeroy as Vice President of Product, and earlier this year, Bento added Lou Friedmann as Chief Revenue Officer. The company has raised more than $9 million in funding, and includes Comcast Ventures and Anthemis Group among its investors.

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

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On FinDEVr.com

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Bento For Business Unveils New Mobile App

BentoforBusiness_homepage_August2016

Bento for Business has released its new mobile app. The solution makes it easier for employees to review their business’s debit-card balances, tag and annotate expenses for simpler reporting and reconciliation, as well as attach receipts to individual transactions using the smartphone’s camera. Optimized for use with smartphone rather than tablets, the Bento mobile app is available for free on both iOS and Android.

“Employees rejoice! Bento’s mobile app is here,” Bento for Business wrote in tweeting the news this afternoon. “Check balances on-the-go. Smart #expense #management is here.”

BentoforBusiness_mobileapp_droid

Bento for Business specializes in providing solutions to help small business owners better manage expenses. With its Bento Prepaid MasterCard, the company offers employers a way to empower their employees to make necessary, work-related purchases while ensuring employers have maximum spending visibility and control. Bento also provides businesses with an analytic dashboard that provides a wholistic view of spending, as well as per-card information as to transaction type, location, employee, etc. “We want to work with banks, with service providers,” Bento for Business CEO Farhan Ahmad said during his Finovate demonstration in the spring of 2015, “to curate and build beautiful, simple—and most of all, useful—products that are built just for small businesses.”

Founded in 2014, the San Francisco-based company demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016. Bento for Business picked up a $7 million investment in a Series A round led by Comcast Ventures and featuring the participation of Anthemis Group, Blumberg Capita, and Lionbird. Individual investor Dan Henry, former NetSpend CEO, also participated. Read more about Bento for Business in our Finovate Debuts feature.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.