Pleo co-founders Jeppe Rindom and Niccolo Perra. Courtesy of Pleo.
The round, co-led by U.S. investors Bain Capital and Thrive Capital, was the largest Series C in Denmark’s history, and is the second record-breaking funding round the company has pulled off. Two years ago, Pleo broke Denmark’s record for largest Series B round raising $56 million.
The startup is known for its smart company cards that help automate and manage team expenses for small businesses. Co-founded by CEO Jeppe Rindom and CTO Niccolo Perra in 2015, Pleo has more than 17,000 customers in six markets across Europe including Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Ireland and the UK.
“Growing a business is much like going through adolescence,” CEO Jeppe Rindom told The Org. “You start as a young teen, trying to find your calling, path and tribe. Then you get a bit older and start to lay foundations for the adult you want to become, but still keep that curiosity in play.”
He said Pleo was now approaching adulthood,where it was less scrappy, had spent time focusing on what mattered (data, customer centricity, brand reputation) and had matured its processes and ways of working.
Pleo has come-of-age into this adolescence at an advantageous time.
Fintech startups worldwide collectively raised over $41.7 billion in 2020, according to PitchBook. In Europe, fintech startups have raised € 7 billion Euros ($8.5 billion) in VC funding as of May 26, already putting the sector on track to exceed last year’s record of €7.1 billion. Pleo’s latest funding round signals how high of a demand there is for payment processing startups in these European markets.
After this latest influx of cash, Rindom said hiring would be front and center for Pleo. Currently at 330 employees, Pleo aims to hire 15 to 30 people every month until the new year.
To do this, Pleo will be leaning on its relatively new talent team, led by Head of Talent Michael Laws. Laws joined the team in January 2021 as the first person at the company dedicated to hiring. He now manages a team of six talent specialists, and after this new round they will have their hands full with talent searching.
Laws said filling sales and marketing roles would be the first priority, followed by technology roles such as product and engineering. He said he expects the company to grow to 450 employees by the end of the year.
However, amidst the ambitious scaling efforts that Pleo has put in place, Laws said another key focus was to keep the original culture intact as they size up.
“I've been through this journey before, going from less than 10 people to nearly 1000 at my last company,” Laws said. “What you lose is the ability to know everyone and be really close with everything that's going on within the organization. And that's inevitable, it's just the evolution that you go through when you go past about 200 people.”
But despite joining well past the 200 mark, Laws said the culture at Pleo still felt very much authentic.
“Our mission as a business for our product is to make people feel valued at work, because our product allows companies to trust their employees to spend money,” Laws said. “It's very much about respecting and trusting your employees. It's very Scandinavian.”
For Rindom, the culture built out at Pleo since the beginning had involved leaning heavily on transparency and melding core values into the product design.
“Transparency is one of our core team values and it's very much baked into the ethos and vision behind the Pleo product – making everyone feel valued at work,” Rindom said. “To do that, you need to be unfiltered, direct and empathetic.”
As the company continues down its path to hire and build out as much as possible, Rindom said that the team would also use the funding to laser in on the core Payments product by improving its functionality and processes.
“It's so encouraging and inspiring to see how our ambitious spending solution is resonating with customers and investors across the globe,” Rindom said. “We're proud to be waving the flag for Denmark, Europe and, most importantly of all, everyone out there that believes in building fully digitised, autonomous, trust-based businesses.”
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