Fintech leader looks to expand financing to small and medium-sized businesses
BlueVine today announced that it has closed $60 million in equity funding, underscoring the fintech pioneer’s momentum in the alternative business lending market.
The Series E funding round was led by Menlo Ventures, and includes new investors, such as SVB Capital. All major existing investors also participated.
The new financing will support BlueVine’s plan to expand its highly-successful invoice factoring and business line of credit products, and to explore new products catering to small and medium-sized businesses. BlueVine also plans to use the funding to accelerate R&D hiring.
Founded in 2013, BlueVine is one of the leading fintech players in online small business lending. The company’s total funded volume since inception is expected to top $1 billion in 2018.
“In just four years, BlueVine has scaled two major financing products, invoice factoring and business line of credit,” BlueVine CEO and founder Eyal Lifshitz said.
“We’re building a cutting edge, technology-enabled platform that is helping thousands of small businesses get quick access to funds to address their everyday funding needs. This new investment gives us a stronger market position, as we pursue bigger plans for reaching even more small business owners and expanding our offering.”
“BlueVine has continued to impress us since we first invested in 2015,” said Tyler Sosin, a partner at Menlo Ventures. “The company has demonstrated dramatic, sustainable growth and has proven that there is enduring value in developing a comprehensive offering of credit products that small and medium sized businesses can use throughout their lifetimes. We continue to get more excited about the expanding ambitions of the company and we believe there is a real opportunity for BlueVine to emerge as the dominant, multi-billion dollar fintech company.”
“BlueVine has consistently rolled out new and innovative financial services products to the SMB space,” said Tilli Kalisky-Bannett, Partner, SVB Capital. “We consider it a driving force in the growth of the fintech sector, enabling small businesses to gain access to financial resources more easily than ever.”
BlueVine Chief Financial Officer Ana Sirbu said the investment is a solid vote of confidence in BlueVine’s future.
“We’re proud to work more closely with Menlo Ventures and with our other investors as we continue to build a dynamic and scalable platform where small businesses can easily access the fast, on-demand working capital financing they need,” she said. “We have a robust business that is helping thousands of entrepreneurs on an ongoing recurring basis. In fact, over 80 percent of our business is now through returning customers.”
Many BlueVine customers say BlueVine financing played a critical role in the success and growth of their business.
It helped HandledNow, an Indiana-based staffing agency, expand more rapidly thanks to BlueVine financing, said founder Aaron Robertson.
“We tripled our headcount in less than two years,” Robertson said. “We certainly would not have been able to do that without BlueVine.”
BlueVine invoice factoring helped Maine-based SaviLinx, which offers business processing and technology support services to big companies and government agencies, achieve faster growth.
Inc. Magazine ranked SaviLinx the 28th fastest growing private company in the U.S. in 2017.
“We were just over $2 million a year in revenue when we started with BlueVine in 2015. A year later, we were at $11 million,” CEO Heather Blease said. “BlueVine was a very important part of our growth. If we didn’t have BlueVine, we would have had to sell more equity in our company to have the cash we needed to grow.”
A business line of credit from BlueVine enabled entrepreneur Jesse Urrutia, owner of MarketMe Video Production in San Carlos, California, to take on bigger clients.
“In the past, I was forced to turn down projects and even new customers because I simply didn’t have the cash to pay for a production,” Urrutia said. “It was just frustrating having to turn business down because you don’t have the money. BlueVine fixed that for us.”
The venture capital investment caps an outstanding first half of the year for BlueVine, highlighted by key milestones:
BlueVine kicked off 2018 by announcing that it had doubled its invoice factoring credit line to $5 million, solidifying its position as the dominant player in online invoice financing.
The company also has increased its business line of credit line limit from $150,000 last year to $250,000.
In May, BlueVine announced that it had secured a $200 million credit facility with Credit Suisse. The company has secured more than $300 million in debt financing over the past year.
BlueVine recently received upbeat reviews and honors, including “Best B2B Factoring Service” from Business News Daily and “Best Overall Business Line of Credit” from FitSmallBusiness.
Tänak wins easily in the Arctic as Rovanperä grabs early title lead
Finn becomes youngest ever WRC leader with Belgian Neuville back in third.
Ott Tänak sealed a dominant start-to-finish victory at Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox on Sunday afternoon.
The Estonian was never seriously challenged during the three-day encounter in Lapland’s frozen forests. He built a comfortable lead during the first two legs and eased through the finale to win the FIA World Rally Championship’s second round by 17.5sec.
Home hero Kalle Rovanperä fended off a charging Thierry Neuville to claim the best result of his career in second. At just 20 years old, he became the youngest driver to lead the WRC in the championship’s 49-year history. Neuville finished 2.3sec adrift in third.
Tänak won five of the 10 snow and ice speed tests in his Hyundai i20. Apart from a brush with a snowbank on Saturday, he avoided trouble on superfast roads near Rovaniemi to kick-start his title bid after retiring from the season-opener in Monte-Carlo.
“The pressure was there and we knew it was going to be very complicated to take the fight,” he said. “In the end we did a very good weekend, with only one mistake. It’s an amazing place, definitely one of the best places to have a winter rally.”
Rovanperä, starting just his ninth top-level rally, began the final day with a 1.8sec buffer to Neuville. He extended it by a tenth in the first of two passes through the 22.47km Aittajärvi test, before winning the final Wolf Power Stage to retain his grip on second.
The Toyota Yaris driver moved four points clear of Neuville at the top of the standings, relegating world champion Sébastien Ogier who had a disappointing weekend. The Frenchman finished 20th after burying his Yaris into a snow drift.
Neuville’s third place provided a double podium for Hyundai Motorsport, which reduced Toyota Gazoo Racing’s manufacturers’ championship lead to 11 points.
Craig Breen finished fourth in another i20 after a four-rally absence. Tyre management was crucial and the Irishman fell back on Saturday as he struggled for grip on deteriorating roads after ending the opening day in second. He was 52.6sec adrift of Tänak.
Breen kept Elfyn Evans at bay in the final test after the Welshman closed to within 3.6sec in the penultimate stage. The final gap between them was 8.9sec. Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta rounded off the top six in another Yaris.
Tributes were made on the podium to Finnish rally great Hannu Mikkola. The 1983 world champion and three-time runner-up died on Friday and the Finnish Air Force led the accolades with an F18 Hornet flypast.
The WRC moves to the asphalt Croatia Rally for round three, which is based in Zagreb on April 22-25.
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Hyundai i20 2hr 03min 49.6sec
2. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +17.5sec
3. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 +19.8sec
4. C Breen / P Nagle IRL Hyundai i20 +52.6sec
5. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris +1min 01.5sec
6. T Katsuta / D Barritt JAP Toyota Yaris +1min 37.8sec
FIA World Rally Championship (after round 2 of 12)
1. K Rovanperä 39pts
2. T Neuville 35
3. S Ogier 31
4. E Evans 31
5. O Tänak 27
Euro zone factories buzzing in February as demand soars
By Jonathan Cable
LONDON (Reuters) – Euro zone factory activity raced along in February thanks to soaring demand, a survey showed on Monday, although the burst of business led to a shortage of raw materials and a spike in input costs.
Restrictions imposed across the continent to try to quell the spread of the coronavirus have shuttered vast swathes of the bloc’s dominant services industry, meaning it has fallen to manufacturers to support the economy.
IHS Markit’s final Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to a three-year high of 57.9 in February from January’s 54.8, ahead of the initial 57.7 “flash” estimate and one of the highest readings in the survey’s 20-year history.
An index measuring output, which feeds into a composite PMI due on Wednesday that is seen as a good guide to economic health, climbed to 57.6 from 54.6, well above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.
“Manufacturing is appearing as an increasingly bright spot in the euro zone’s economy so far this year,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
“The solid manufacturing expansion is clearly helping to offset ongoing virus-related weakness in many consumer-facing sectors, alleviating the impact of recent lockdown measures in many countries and helping to limit the overall pace of economic contraction.”
A Reuters poll last month showed the bloc was in a double dip recession and that the economy would contract 0.8% this quarter after shrinking 6.9% in 2020 on an annual basis. [ECILT/EU]
Rocketing demand for manufactured goods pushed factories to increase staffing levels for the first time in nearly two years.
But lockdown measures disrupted supply chains and factories struggled to obtain raw materials, leading to a big increase in delivery times.
“The growth spurt has brought its own problems, however, with demand for inputs not yet being met by supply. Shipping delays and shortages of materials are being widely reported, and led to near-record supply chain delays,” Williamson said.
Those shortages allowed suppliers to hike their prices at the fastest rate in almost a decade. The input prices PMI bounced to 73.9 from 68.3.
(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
Strong exports lift German factory activity to three-year high in February – PMI
BERLIN (Reuters) – Higher demand from China, the United States and Europe drove growth in German factory activity to its highest level in more than three years in February, brightening the outlook for Europe’s largest economy, a survey showed on Monday.
IHS Markit’s Final Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing, which accounts for about a fifth of the economy, jumped to 60.7 from 57.1 in January.
It was the highest reading since January 2018 and came in slightly better than the initial “flash” figure of 60.6.
Factories have been humming along during the pandemic on higher foreign demand, helping the German economy avoid a contraction in the last quarter of 2020 and offsetting a drop in consumer spending amid a partial lockdown to contain COVID-19.
Many manufacturers reported higher demand from Asia, especially China, as well as the United States and European countries, with export sales posting their biggest increase since December 2017, the survey showed.
Phil Smith, Principal Economist at IHS Markit, said supply chain pressures intensified as more firms reported delays than ever before in nearly 25 years of data collection.
“There looks to be further upward pressure on inflation in the German economy from supply bottlenecks and a subsequent surge in manufacturing input costs,” Smith noted.
The survey suggested that supply disruption is making it more difficult to replenish stocks, which could complicate production in the coming months, he cautioned.
“Nevertheless, the overriding sentiment for the longer-term outlook is optimism, with a record number of manufacturers expecting to see output rise over the next 12 months.”
Still, economists expect the economy to shrink in the first quarter of this year due to a stricter lockdown, which has shut most shops and services since mid-December, and freezing temperatures that slowed construction activity in February.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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