July 25, 2023, TechCrunch, by Mary Ann Azevedo - In September of 2021, Jeeves began offering corporate credit cards as its primary product — with a primary focus on Latin America — after participating in Y Combinator’s summer 2020 batch.
By that 2021 launch, Jeeves was describing itself as the first “cross country, cross currency” expense management platform — serving businesses in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. It had raised a total of $265 million in equity funding at a valuation of $2.1 billion.
In 2022, the startup seemed to have hit its stride. It entered 2023 with over $40 million in annualized run rate, up 250% year-over-year, according to CEO and founder Dileep Thazhmon. And today it is announcing that it’s expanding further to now offer businesses prepaid cards and cross-border payments.
Jeeves describes itself as “a financial operating system built for global companies.” The fully remote, New York–based company is backed by investors such as Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), CRV and Tencent, among others, and recently raised an additional $25 million from an undisclosed sovereign wealth fund from the Middle East.
Notably, the 182-person startup today still has over three years of runway left, Thazhmon said.
“We were lucky to have raised at the right time. And we’ve also focused on just reducing burn — I think we’ve cut costs by almost 50% in the last five months,” he added. “Contribution profit is the big focus for this year. We want to get that positive in all the countries in which we operate and in all products that we have.”
Expanding Beyond Credit
Jeeves’ story runs counter to many others in the fintech world, where funding has dropped significantly and growth stories are harder to come by.
And the startup’s expansion helps round out its offering, said Thazhmon, to serve as “an all-in-one platform” that combines accounts payable, invoicing, and spend management, with credit and prepaid cards, for companies operating across borders. That, he hopes, will only help it grow even more.
“By launching prepaid cards and cross-border payments, our customers can move beyond employee expenses and use Jeeves for all corporate related expenses, including vendor payouts and invoicing,” Thazhmon said.
As part of this new offering, Jeeves claims that it will allow customers to move funds in and out of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico within 24 hours — a process that has historically taken up to 7 days. On top of that, customers will have the ability to pay for operational expenses in over 150 countries in local currencies using multilanguage invoice-scanning technology.
The company wanted to expand beyond credit because customers were asking if they could also have the option to send money in the form of prefunded cards or customer deposits to fund their businesses in other countries.
“What we’re looking like is a bit like a global Bill.com where you have one component that’s expense management and one that’s accounts payable so it’s much more robust than just a corporate card built on credit,” Thazhmon said.
Building “Country by Country”
Jeeves was founded in 2020 under the premise that startups have traditionally had to rely on financial infrastructure that is local and country-specific. For example, a business with employees in Mexico and Colombia would require multiple vendors to cover its finance function in each country — a corporate card in Mexico and one in Colombia and another vendor for cross-border payments.
The company says it provides the underwriting, credit in local currency and the payment rails “for any business spend across countries and currencies.” It currently has customers across 22 countries in North America, Latin America, the U.K. and Europe, including Kavak, dLocal, and Rappi. Nearly 60% of Jeeves’ revenue is generated out of Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.
The company is a full principal member with Mastercard in those three countries and claims to be the only expense management provider with local bank identification numbers (BINs) in all 22 countries across the three continents where it operates. Jeeves says it can onboard companies headquartered in the United States, Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Europe.
“We’ve basically built this country by country in each region. That’s why it’s such a big achievement,” Thazhmon said. “It took about 18 months to kind of get this done.”
To support its continued growth, Jeeves recently made a few high-profile new hires, including tapping Alex Melikian, previously at Payoneer, to serve as its CFO; hiring Daniel Adams, previously with Marqeta, to serve as chief compliance officer; and Lowell Isaacs, previously from Capital One, to serve as its VP of Credit Risk and Underwriting.
“Our long term goal is to go public,” Thazhmon told TechCrunch. “Given we were in YC less than 3 years ago and launched officially just two years ago, the next stage for us includes scaling our leadership team with leaders that have public company experience, including knowing how to navigate a young fast growing startup into a scalable public company.”