Pleo joins billion-dollar club after pulling in $150m, plans aggressive hiring in UK

Copenhagen-based FinTech startup Pleo, an employee credit card and expense solution provider has joined the European’ unicorn’ club with a $1.7bn valuation after raising Denmark’s biggest ever Series C at $150m.

The investment round was co-led by California-based Bain Capital Ventures and New York-based Thrive Capital, with contributions from investors including Creandum, Kinnevik, Founders, Stripes and Seedcamp. With this, Keri Gohman, Bain Capital Ventures’ partner, will be joining Pleo’s board of directors. This round was oversubscribed: the original intention had been to raise just $100m.

This Series C investment comes two years after Pleo’s Series B round led by Stripes, which saw them raise $56m — the largest Series B round raised in Denmark to date. Prior to this, in 2018, Pleo raised its Series A round totalling $16m, which helped expand its solution across the EU. With its latest cash infusion, Pleo has raised $228.8m to date. 

The funds will support its growing 17,000 customer base to 1 million by 2025, and it will also be used to develop new spend management features for the platform. The Danish FinTech will continue to invest in its team, which currently stands at 330 people. The firm plans to boost its presence in countries like the UK and ramp up marketing.

It offers Mastercard like smart company cards and expense management for businesses across Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Ireland and the UK. In the past year, Pleo launched various product features, including Bills, an invoice management system that removes the hassle of paying invoices, and Reimbursements, a centralised hub to keep track of the money owed between employees and the company. 

Pleo’s approach has been to build, from the ground up, a system for those smaller businesses that integrate all the different stages of how an employee might spend money on behalf of the company. Pleo provides physical and virtual payment cards to buy goods and services, which in turn are automatically itemized according to a company’s internal accounting systems, with the ability to work with e-receipts, but also let people use their phones to snap pictures of receipts when they are only on paper, if required.

Pleo also has built fraud protection services into the platform to detect, for example, cases when a card number might have been compromised and is being used for non-work purposes.

Pleo makes about 70% of its revenue from interchange fees taken from a merchant’s bank account every time a customer uses their card. The other main chunk of the company’s sales comes from paid subscriptions.

Bain has been a pretty active investor in European FinTech, also backing GoCardless in its recent round. “BCV invests in founders who aren’t afraid to tackle big problems, and Jeppe and Nicco saw a big challenge that employers faced—tracking all corporate spending and reconciling expenses back to the general ledger—and solved it with elegant technology that both employers and employees love,” said Merritt Hummer, a partner at Bain Capital Ventures.

Bain partner Keri Gohman added, “The future of work empowers employees with the tools they need to be effective, productive, and successful. Pleo understands this critical shift for modern companies toward employee centricity—providing workers with a fun-to-use spend management app that automatically tracks their corporate spending and generates expense reports, paired with the powerful tools businesses need to create full visibility and management of every penny spent.”

Thrive is also a notable backer here, and alongside Pleo, the VC’s portfolio includes companies like Plaid, Gong and Trade Republic.

Kareem Zaki, partner at Thrive Capital, said, “Pleo has already transformed the way that over 17,000 companies think about managing their expenses, saving them time and lowering costs while increasing transparency.

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