Spendesk is the fifth French startup to achieve unicorn status this month – TechCrunch

Fintech startup Spendesk announces it has raised an extension to its Series C round. Tiger Global is investing $114 million (€100 million) in the startup. Following today’s funding round, the company claims to have reached a valuation of over $1.14 billion (over €1 billion).

In other words, Spendesk is a new unicorn in the French tech ecosystem. The financing news has been accelerating for several months in France. In January alone, five startups announced that they had crossed the threshold to reach unicorn status – PayFit, Ankorstore, Qonto, Exotec and Spendesk.

Back Market, an e-commerce marketplace focused on refurbished smartphones and electronics, also raised a mega round and reached a valuation of $5.7 billion.

Back to Spendesk. The startup offers an all-in-one enterprise expense management platform for midsize businesses in Europe. Initially focused on virtual cards for online payments, the company has expanded its product offering to tackle all things business spending.

Spendesk customers can order physical cards for employees, team members can use the platform to pay outstanding bills, file expense reports, manage budgets and generate expense reports. By offering everything in one service, Spendesk wants to simplify accounting and approvals in general so that money flows more freely.

The startup defines its platform as a “7-in-1 expense management solution,” meaning Spendesk is no longer just a product that lets you order debit cards for your employees.

“We’ve had this goal from the start – we really want to become this platform, this operational system to manage your expenses,” co-founder and CEO Rodolphe Ardant told me. “When we started working on the product, we looked at each use case and designed the right workflow for it.”

In particular, Spendesk helps you formalize your internal processes. You can set up team budgets, set up complicated approval workflows for expensive payments, automate some tedious tasks, like extracting VAT.

“We are targeting a medium-sized clientele. These are clients with 50 to 1,000 employees. We have a few customers bigger than that and a few customers smaller than that,” Ardant said.

And the company currently has 3,500 customers – around half of them are based in France while the remaining customers are mainly based in Germany and the UK. Customers spent €3 billion through Spendesk in 2021 alone.

With its central position in the financial stack, Spendesk must interface perfectly with other financial tools – banks on one side and ERP products on the other.

The startup currently supports many popular accounting tools used by European businesses, such as Xero and Datev. Spendesk customers can also export batches of transactions and import them into Sage, Cegid and other accounting software solutions.

Spendesk is also working on automating integrations with your bank accounts, which could be particularly useful for businesses with multiple bank accounts. For example, you can imagine setting up a rule that automatically triggers a transfer between your German bank account and your Spendesk account when you want to pay a German supplier.

Picture credits: Expenses

Expense management in Europe

Spendesk isn’t the only spend management solution in Europe. There are some competitors, such as Pleo, which recently reached a valuation of $4.7 billion, and Soldo – another well-funded competitor as it raised $180 million last year.

Also in the US, companies like Brex and Ramp have reached sky-high valuations. And yet, Spendesk does not think it has the same positioning as American startups.

“In the US market, it shouldn’t be called the spend management industry — it’s the corporate card industry. Players like Brex and Ramp are positioning themselves as a means of payment,” Spendesk co-founder and CEO Rodolphe Ardant told me. “European business culture is a culture of debit — not credit. We don’t provide payment methods, we provide a process.

It’s a slight difference in product positioning, so it will be interesting to see if a European spend management startup can successfully break into the US and vice versa.

Also in terms of the business model, Spendesk sees itself as a software-as-a-service company with recurring subscriptions. The startup didn’t want to share specific numbers for its revenue. Its CEO has just said that Spendesk’s revenue is “more than doubling every year”.

With today’s funding round, Spendesk plans to triple the size of its team over the next two years. The company plans to have 1,000 employees by the end of 2023.

About Donnie R. Losey

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