Brazil’s Caju, a corporate benefits startup, announced on Wednesday that it has raised an $8 million Series A round led by Valor Capital Group and Caravela Capital and co-led by Volpe Capital.
The round also had the participation of the Europe-based fund Picus Capital, New York-based FJ Labs, and Santa Monica’s Clocktower Technology Ventures.
Caju is Portuguese for cashew. Originally from Brazil, cashew is a tropical apple accessory fruit from which it is possible to make juice, use the nut to make flour, and use the pulp to make Brazil’s famous cocktail caipirinha. This cashew versatility is behind the startup’s name, which also wants to be the source of several solutions for employees.
Caju issues Visa-flagged corporate cards and offers insurance and options to exchange benefits for subscriptions to Netflix, Spotify, among others. Customers can transfer balances between six categories: meal, food, mobility, culture, education, and health. The Caju card works as pre-paid, meaning that users can only use the available balance.
Caju entered the market to fight for the diversification of corporative benefits with incumbents in the sector, from the experienced Alelo, specialized in benefits, incentives, and corporative expenses management, to Ticket (from French company Edenred) and Sodexo, also from France.
Eduardo del Giglio (CEO) and Renan Mendes (CTO) began building Caju’s platform in 2019. “Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talent. I thought Caju could be a powerful tool to help them in this regard,” Giglio said in an interview with LABS.
Caju was born in 2020 with an initial investment of BRL 13 million from Canary and Valor Capital Group. Since then, the startup has gone from scratch to “thousands” of client companies, said Giglio, who does not disclose the exact number. Clients include some of the country’s leading tech companies, such as Loft, PicPay, Gympass, Olist, RD Station, Wildlife Studios, Rappi, Mercado Bitcoin, and Pipefy, as well as Dafiti, SKF, Armac, and Bemol.
Today, Caju operates in more than 400 cities in all states of Brazil and plans to reach 1 million users by 2022.
“The employee is the most important thing in the company, and Caju is the employee’s company. We want to bring new solutions and services”, said Giglio. Through Caju’s app, the employee can invest in a pension plan with the co-participation of the company, also defining the beneficiaries of the life insurance linked to the plan, a product that the startup already offers.
Caju is also studying providing credit solutions such as salary anticipation – something that the newcomer fintech Quansa also intends to do in Brazil – and payroll loans. “I think each challenger is attacking this problem [of the traditional benefits market] in a different way. We are starting from a situation where employees were not so well served,” Giglio told LABS.
With this investment, the expansion of Caju’s product portfolio also involves management solutions for Human Resources and products aimed at the events vertical.
The startup currently has a team of 40 people and intends to double it by the end of the year, with open positions in the technology and product areas. “Last year, we had the vision that the benefits market needed to be modernized. We want to do this with other segments, always with the employee at the center”, he said.