With an amount of $1.63 billion, 2020 was the fifth year in a row of fintech companies leading investments in Latin America. Does that mean the industry is reaching a plateau in the region? Not even close. While a surge of digital wallets and neobanks certainly took LatAm countries by storm in recent years, there is still an untapped potential to be explored – especially when it comes to B2B solutions. That’s where Clara, a Mexican corporate spend-management startup, comes in, counting on a brand new $30 million Series A round.
Founded in April 2020 by Gerry Giacomán Colyer and Diego García, the fintech launched operations in Mexico back in March. “We want to be the best partner so that businesses can do better management of all their corporate spend. Managing your resources is one of the most important things that any business can do. We saw at Grow Mobility [a Latin American micromobility firm], in which our co-founder Diego and I worked, how not having a solution like Clara could really affect a company’s performance,” recalls Colyer in an interview with LABS.
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According to the co-founder, Clara is an end-to-end spend management solution for companies. In addition to corporate credit cards in physical and virtual formats with no annual fee and customizable limits and restrictions, the company has a platform for controlling expenses. It is used by companies such as Creditas, Casai, and Valoreo, and it saw the volume transacted through its platform increase over a hundred times in Mexico since March.
“For every individual cardholder, we have a mobile application, visibility of all the transactions, alerts, a feature to lock and unlock the card. That kind of visibility and control expands to a managerial level so they can do the same for employees in their team, and ultimately for the finance team, so they can do that for the entire company. It gives visibility and control to the entire company, helping them manage the spend from transactions to the basic accounting integrations,” he explains.
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“While the consumer finance space has undergone a major revolution in recent years, the B2B segment has lagged behind. Payments, corporate credit card, and spend management represent a giant opportunity globally,” says Marcelo Lima, partner at monashees, a São-Paulo based VC firm that took part in the round.
“Clara has put together a super team to hit this billion-dollar opportunity in Latin America, solving a major headache for many companies in the region.” Led by Tom Stafford from DST Global, the $30 million Series A round also had Kaszek Ventures, Avid Ventures, and previous investors like General Catalyst.
Eric Glyman, from Ramp, is also behind the investment. New-York based Ramp is a fintech company founded in 2019 that develops a management platform and corporate cards for businesses; the kind of expertise that is likely to help Clara with its own product in Latin America.
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With the expressive growth after a recent debut in Mexico, Clara now has its eyes set on Brazil, where the company expects to launch during the third quarter of the year, backed by the new resources.
The Series A round will also help the fintech speed up product development with investments in technology, product, and support, besides moving on with its expansion roadmap in the region. According to Colyer, while the company plans to focus efforts on Brazil for the year, it has also spotted interest from companies in Colombia and Chile. Clara is also about to sign a contract for a $50 million credit line with an undisclosed partner.
With fifty employees in Mexico, Colyer expects Clara to reach the end of the year with 150 filled positions, 50 of them in Brazil, where the company has been focusing on hiring. Clara also has a waiting list available to Brazilian companies interested in its product.
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“We are talking to some of the fastest-growing companies in Brazil, and the adaptations we are making [to the product] are very much around their needs,” he says, adding that startups, professional services firms, as well as consulting firms and agencies of different sorts, are some of the main tiers they are getting attention from.
Although it is more common to see Brazilian startups expanding their presence to Latin American neighbors, Clara did the opposite. “As a team, we spent a lot of time in Brazil; we used to live there when we were at Grow Mobility (…) We don’t see ourselves as a Mexican company coming to Brazil, but rather as a Latin American company that started in Mexico. Now we are excited to open in Brazil next.”