Bento for Business Names New CEO; Partners with San Francisco Achievers

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Small business expense management platform Bento for Business has a new man at the top. The company announced today that Guido Schulz will join the company as its new CEO. Schulz will team up with co-founder Farhan Ahmad who will remain as chairman of the company’s board of directors.

“Bento for Business has built an incredibly intuitive product that directly addresses the core cash flow and operational problems faced by the businesses that drive much of our economy, create jobs, and help build our communities,” Shulz explained. He called expense management “the single largest area of opportunity” for small businesses.

Founded in 2014, Bento for Business provides expense management solutions that are designed specifically for small businesses and nonprofits. Bento offers business debit cards with spending controls – including virtual cards that can be issued and used instantly – as well as Bento Pay, a B2B digital payments service that only requires the fund recipient’s email address in order to send money. Bento made its Finovate debut at our west coast conference in 2015.

“As we’ve reached a new phase of growth ourselves, bringing on Guido is an important step for delivering the same exceptional experience to businesses as Bento’s footprint continues to expand,” Ahmad said. He praised Schulz’s record in scaling companies and said he looked forward to working together to “deliver a healthy bottom line for businesses through unprecedented visibility and control over monthly expenses.”

Schulz comes to Bento from global hospitality payment gateway provider Merchant Link, where he was Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer. The company was acquired by Shift4 last August. Previously, Schulz worked for Bluefin Payment Systems, where he was also Chief Commercial Officer and, before that, at AFEX as Global EVP and Chief Strategy Officer. He was educated at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and was a visiting scholar at the University of Notre Dame.

Bento’s C-suite addition comes almost a year after the company bolstered its executive ranks with the addition of Paula Bachman as Chief Financial Officer. The news also arrives as the company announces a partnership with San Francisco Achievers, a youth development program that is using the Bento for Business app to manage scholarship funds and learn responsible budgeting habits.

“We have an orientation for our scholarship students,” Duane Wilson, the program’s Executive Director explained. “For some of them, this is their very first card. It allows them to have the experience.”

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Bento for Business has raised $18.5 million in funding. The company includes Edison Partners, Anthemis Group, and Comcast Ventures among its investors.

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Bento Unveils Venmo Style Digital Payment Solution for SMEs

Bento Pay is a first of its kind digital payment solution that makes it easier for businesses to pay businesses. The technology marries the ease of use of digital, check-free consumer payments with enterprise-grade security and spend controls business owners and managers need.

B2B business payments solutions provider Bento for Business announced the new solution this morning. Available to customers in July, Bento Pay will only require the payee’s email address in order to send payments rather than force fund recipients to set up new accounts or share personal financial information. Funds can be received by single-use virtual card or an ACH transfer.

Highlighting the efficiency of banking and payments in the consumer area, Bento for Business CEO and co-founder Farhan Ahmad believes business payments can be made better. “Businesses today are demanding the same level of convenience and control,” he said. “They want to move away from complex, high-cost workflows towards a solution that is flexible and secure. Bento Pay users can smoothly and securely complete business payments to their suppliers while controlling their cash from one central place.”

As such, Bento Pay is a significant contribution to the company’s product suite, which now features debit and virtual cards, real-time payments, and ACH transfers. The new offering also validates the company’s evolution from a spending and expense management innovator into a holistic payments solution provider for small businesses.

“Until now, we’ve seen no meaningful revolution in the B2B fintech space that can viably address the underserved needs of SMBs,” Ahmad said. “We envisioned Bento as the financial operating platform of choice for SMBs, and the addition of real-time payment capabilities is a continuation of our vision.”

San Francisco, California-based Bento for Business demonstrated its first offering, the Bento Mastercard, a prepaid commercial card solution for SMEs, at FinovateSpring 2015. The card gives owners and managers the ability to empower employees and workers to make necessary business expenditures, while maintaining a high degree of control and transparency into all activity on the card.

Last month, Bento made a pair of major, C-level hires, adding Paula Bachman as Chief Financial Officer and Tracey Hansen as Chief Marketing Officer. Bachman is most recently from data analytics firm, Networked Insights. Hansen was formerly CMO of education software company, Renaissance Learning. This spring, the company announced a partnership with Visa that added a new payment card option for small business owners using the Bento for Business platform.

With $18.5 million in funding from investors including Comcast Ventures, Edison Partners, and MissionOG, Bento for Business was one of 15 investors to back Bipsync, a research automation platform for investors, at the beginning of the year. Bento was founded in 2014.

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Bento for Business Hires on Two C-Level Appointees

B2B payment solutions provider Bento for Business is boosting its leadership team this week. The company has appointed Paula Bachman as Chief Financial Officer and Tracy Hansen as Chief Marketing Officer.

The two will be the first to serve in these capacities, as both roles have been newly created to aid the company during its recent time of growth. Last year, the company’s year-over-year gross dollar volume increased by 3x.

“Paula and Tracy are experienced leaders and critical hires for Bento during this pivotal time in our growth trajectory. They each bring the knowledge and insights needed to progress Bento’s evolution,” said Farhan Ahmad, Bento CEO. “With the right team in place, we are now focused on making further innovations to our financial operating platform to deliver a full-stack payment solution with flexible funding options, built-in compliance, APIs, third-party integrations and more to meet the evolving needs of modern businesses.”

Paula Bachman

In her new role, Bachman (pictured right) will help Bento define new strategies, implement scalable business processes and systems, execute transactions with Bento’s investors and business partners, and lead the human resources group. Prior to Bento, Bachman worked at Networked Insights, a data analytics SaaS firm.

Tracy Hansen

As CMO, Hansen (pictured right) is charged with overseeing and managing Bento’s growth. She has worked at B2B companies including Tealium, NetApp, and CA Technologies, and was most recently CMO of Renaissance Learning, an education software company.

Bento offers an all-in-one platform to help small businesses manage their spending. The company also provides a variety of payment cards to offer businesses more control and visibility over their employees’ spending.

Founded in 2014, Bento demoed its platform at FinovateSpring 2015. The company is headquartered in San Francisco and Chicago. Last month, Bento formed a deal with Visa to include the company as an additional payment card in the Bento for Business platform.

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Bento for Business Partners with Visa

B2B payment solutions provider Bento for Business inked a deal with Visa this week. The deal includes Visa as an additional payment card in the Bento for Business platform that aims to help small businesses manage their cash and employee expenses. The Visa card offering is being added to the company’s Mastercard prepaid commercial card product originally launched in 2015.

As part of the partnership, joint customers of Visa and the Bento platform can benefit from Bento’s businesses management tools such as budgeting, capital management, employee card controls, and bookkeeping. And it notably makes Visa’s millions of business debit cardholders into potential Bento clients.

“The SMB segment is a priority for Visa and we continue to be an advocate for the 30 million SMBs in the United States,” said David Simon, Global Head of Small and Medium Enterprises at Visa. “The Bento solution will evolve how Visa Business cardholders and merchants manage expenses and gain insights into their cash flow and financial management activities.”

Plans for Bento business users have a range of options, starting with two cards for free, and extending to unlimited cards and administrators for $149 per month.

Founded in 2014, Bento demoed its platform at FinovateSpring 2015. As for the company’s next plans, Bento CEO Farhan Ahmad said, “In 2019 and beyond, we will continue to expand our financial controls and cashless workflows for SMBs with a vision to deliver an all-in-one working capital management solution.”

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How Fintech is Disrupting the Modern Workplace

From the way payroll and benefits are administered to the nature of work itself, fintech innovation is helping build the 21st century workplace.

Will “pay day” be a thing of the past? How long until companies across the country are competing on the basis of their ability to help you pay off your student loans?

Technology has done much to change the nature of work in recent years. The same can be said for specific areas like financial technology. Here’s a look at how fintech innovations are making their own contributions to the 21st century “office”.

Getting Paid

Many of us work because we enjoy what we do. But whether you consider getting paid a top priority or just a perk, who wouldn’t love the flexibility of being able to get income when you need the money most – rather than on an arbitrary, twice a month schedule?

Companies like Gusto are among those making this possibility a reality. This summer, the payroll, benefits, and HR technology company introduced Flexible Pay, a new solution that enables employees to get paid on a date other than their employer’s standard pay date. Calling bi-weekly pay schedules a “relic” of the days when payroll taxes were calculated manually, Gusto co-founder and CEO Joshua Reeves has set out to prove that “with modern technology, employees shouldn’t have to wait weeks to get paid.”

The New Workspace

Even the word “telecommute” sounds more like something from a bygone time rather than the way a growing number of Americans are “going to work”. But the reality of remote employment for a growing number of people is here and fintech companies have both encouraged and participated in this trend. “Millennials simply don’t feel they need to be in the office, or at their desk, to get a job done — especially since the evolution of technology has made portability very possible,” Demetrios Gianniris, a director at MG Engineering, wrote for earlier this year in a post called The Millennial Arrival and the Evolution of the Modern Workplace.

To this end, innovations in mobile technology and messaging (consider Eltropy’s innovations in providing secure, compliant communications via popular messaging apps) have helped accelerate the revolution in remote work. There are also fintechs removing friction from some of the more mundane aspects of working outside the office. Expensify, for example, has partnered with Uber to make it easier for workers who use the ride-sharing service to separate business from personal expenses. And speaking of expenses, the tools offered by companies like Ondot empower workers to make necessary purchases while ensuring control and accountability for managers and employers.

Doing the Work

The flip side of the convenience that technologies like chatbots and IVR provide is that, for a growing number of financial professionals, these technologies are virtually co-workers. As machine learning and AI become increasingly commonplace, workers are more likely to rely on interacting with processes than communicating with people when it comes to getting their daily tasks done.

For financial advisors, fintechs are developing a wide variety of tools to make it easier for them to communicate with customers, and build highly personalized investment portfolios and financial plans. Onist, which announced a partnership with Quovo this summer, enables financial advisors to set up a virtual family office to facilitate collaboration between advisors and clients.

Technology also promises to make it easier for workers to leverage the work of other workers more effectively. One of the key insights of New York-based WorkFusion was the way a combination of machine learning and crowdsourcing of human talent could enable smaller businesses to “punch above their weight” when it comes to managing data. The company has since leveraged this technology to produce the first integrated RPA (robot process automation) and cognitive automation platform: Smart Process Automation (SPA) currently deployed in verticals including financial services, healthcare, and insurance.

Managing the Gains

Fintechs are in the lead when it comes to helping workers make better financial decisions. A firm like DoubleNet Pay helps employees manage cash flow by automating their billpay and savings obligations and coordinating payouts around paydays. Wealthucate, a financial wellness specialist out of San Jose, California, provides an automated financial wellness program that helps businesses enhance their own offerings. Wealthucate’s solution leverages gamification and personalization to increase the participation rate in benefit programs and help companies better explain their benefit offerings.

Among the more interesting ways that fintechs are helping workers manage their money is the approach by Student Loan Genius. This company enlists employers in the fight to help Millennial workers in particular pay off their student loans while simultaneously investing in their own employer-based retirement plan as soon as possible.

Fintech and the Work of the Future

It may be only a matter of time before we are able to watch the real-time flow of micropayments into our accounts or a be a part of a workforce in which most of us have both a robot supervisor and a robot subordinate. In any event, it is clear that whatever innovations the workplace of the future holds, fintech companies will be very much a part of making them happen.

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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’s article 7 Cool Productivity Tools You Probably Haven’t Heard Of last month. Bento’s technology was also highlighted in 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.