Ballast Point Ventures has a knack for launching new investment funds at counterintuitive times. Opening the checkbook when others are pulling back has proven to be effective.
Drew Graham, Paul Johan, Matt Rice, Robert Faber and Sean Barkman have lead Ballast Point Ventures
After founding Tampa-based Ballast Point Ventures in mid-2001, Paul Johan and his peers were ready to travel the country to raise money for their venture capital firm and tell their story to wealthy individuals and institutional investors. The hiccup? The economy was sagging and their initial fundraising trip was canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But Johan said the team was resolute: their firm had a story to tell, and they knew the economy in the Southeast would bounce back. It was a story they would often tell during lean times.
“We believed then, as we do today, that there is a lack of later-stage venture and early-growth capital available to companies in the Southeast and Texas,” Johan says. “Also, great companies will always be able to attract capital regardless of where we are in an economic cycle.”
The firm raised $56 million for its first fund in 2002. Over the following two decades, its next few funds kicked off during years economists would recognize as challenging. In 2008, as the 2008-2009 recession took deeper root, the firm kicked off its second fund, with a $140 million infusion. In 2013, as the recovery wobbled on, the firm raised $165 million for a third fund.
We’re looking for entrepreneurs. We want to be active at the board level.” –Paul Johan, partner at Ballast Point Ventures
And in 2021, a year after COVID-19 shut down much of the nation, Ballast Point Ventures was able to kick off its fourth fund with $190 million.
The firm’s investors are a mix of “high net-worth individuals, family offices, traditional institutional investors, banks and a number of our former portfolio company executives,” Johan says. (The company does not identify individual investors.)
On the investment side, Ballast Point Ventures takes funding and invests as a minority stakeholder in up-and-coming companies. The firm invests in three to five companies each year, to construct a portfolio of 18-20 companies per fund. The funds can overlap, Johan says.
A big part of the company’s strategy is the hunt.
The hunt for investors is a bit easier, while the hunt for investment targets is more intensive. It scouts for new Southeast and Texas companies with at least $3 million in annual revenue and a potential to do much more, Johan says. Another attribute is high-gross margins, especially if there is not a lot of profit.
“We’re looking for entrepreneurs,” Johan says, adding that the company eschews passive investing but also rejects micromanaging. “We want to be active at the board level.”
The firm is assisted by trusted friends in banking and the legal community, who often pass the firm’s contact information on to clients looking for investors. The recommendation from trusted financiers and attorneys signals trust to a new entrepreneur, Johan says.
But the firm does not dive in. The courtship can last two to three years before a substantial investment is made.
Word-of-mouth introductions and working the Rolodex has led Ballast Point Ventures to find companies such as Symphonic Distribution, a Tampa company founded in 2006 by Jorge Brea. Symphonic Distribution is an independent music distribution and marketing company that connects artists with online music companies such as Spotify and YouTube.
Johan says the investment in Symphonic Distribution was one example of success he tells investors about. It also shows that not all digital companies start in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Another example comes from Prepaid Technologies, a Birmingham, Alabama-based prepaid digital payments company. Johan says Ballast Point Ventures invested $5 million in it, back in 2016.
“Revenue grew nine times from our investment to when they completed a recap with Edison Partners in 2021,” Johan says. “We worked with the leadership team to grow the team from nine employees in 2016 to approximately 50 in 2021.”
And there’s SkuVault, a Louisville-based inventory management and warehouse-management solutions provider. Ballast Point led a 2018 Series A financing round for the company, which U.K.-based Linnworks acquired in September 2022. “Our capital helped grow SkuVault to over 100 employees at the time of the exit,” Johan says.
The launch of a new fund means Ballast Point Ventures has to face its usual challenges, the main one being finding “quality investments that meet our criteria,” Johan says. Industries are diverse, as Ballast Point Ventures looks at oil, digital companies, real estate and more.
A typical fund creation will mean evaluating as many as 600 companies, Johan says, with only three to five getting investments per year.
The regional focus of Ballast Point Ventures has proven to be less of a challenge than anticipated, thanks to recent economic trends. Florida, Texas and the Southeast were already seeing a steady rise of migration from other states. COVID-19 accelerated that flow of people, even if investment still favors California and the Northeast — for now.
“We still believe the Southeast and Texas are underserved by investment capital,” Johan says.
A Tampa cybersecurity company has bulked up its C-suite after closing $9 million last year.
Abacode, a cybersecurity and compliance firm, has hired Anil Markose as its chief strategy officer. Markose is a former executive at Amazon Web Services, where he served as global head of AWS’ security compliance.
“[Markose’s] global visibility, knowledge and experience will bring additional strength to our fast-growing team,” said Michael Ferris, Abacode CEO, in a statement. “Having ‘sat in the seat’ as a cybersecurity compliance leader, he has a firsthand perspective of our clients’ pain points. Anil joining our team is not only going to be an internal win but an even greater win for Abacode clients and partners.”
The hiring follows a $9 million raise for the company, according to Ferris, which he said was a mix of debt and equity.
The company’s previous funding was a $4.9 million Series A raise in January 2022, led by Ballast Point Ventures. Sean Barkman, Ballast Point’s partner, was listed as a “director” for Abacode in the latest SEC filing.
“The Abacode team has made great progress growing its customer base, service offering, and organization during the company’s short history,” Barkman said in a previous statement.
The funding and hire is the latest win for a slew of Tampa Bay cybersecurity companies. In February alone, Boston-based Rapid7 and Virginia-based Ridgeline International offices in Tampa, and local cyber company Deepwatch closed a $180 million round.
The new funding will be used to invest in technology and personnel to support sojo’s dynamic solution that leverages reservation data and guest preferences to automatically ship the best-fit amenities, gifts, and more for each guest’s stay.
Offering ‘amenities on autopilot’, sojo was founded to remove the headache of ordering, storing and coordinating supplies by automating turnover operations. sojo provides property managers with the ability to connect reservation calendars to its platform to automate the delivery of bathroom amenities, laundry products, kitchen amenities, pantry stock, maintenance items and even guest gifts.
Property managers can choose from a catalogue of quality, eco-friendly products designed with guests in mind, and have the option to customise and private-label product packaging for a “one-of-a-kind” guest experience.
Max Farley, founder and CEO of sojo, said: “Whether you manage five or 5,000 vacation homes, sojo is designed to make life easier. Gone are the days of shipping products to your office, hiring staff to manage the kitting and fulfilment process, and dealing with errors and inconsistencies at every turn.
“There’s a growing demand for this type of support in the vacation rental space and this partnership with Ballast Point will allow us to build out technology that best serves our customers. We’re very excited to have their support,” he added.
Robert Faber, partner at Ballast Point Ventures, who will join the sojo board of directors, said: “As BPV has gotten to know Max, we have been very impressed with the growth and success that sojo has been able to achieve at a rapid pace – there is a clear need for the company’s dynamic solution in the space. Given our focus on partnering with rapidly growing private companies in the south-east and Texas, and our prior investment and experience within the short-term rental market, sojo is a great fit for us.
“We are excited to partner with Max and the entire sojo team to drive continued growth,” he added.
The latest raise takes sojo’s total funding to date to more than $11 million, following a $5 million seed round led by a private investor in March 2021.
Louisville Business Journal By: Haley Cawthon – Assistant managing editor—digital
Andy Eastes, co-founder and CEO of SkuVault
When Andy Eastes broke the news to his children that he had sold the company he founded in 2011, his daughter cried.
“She got over it real quick, but I realized that’s all she’s ever known since she was born — daddy and SkuVault,” he said. “I had to explain to her that it was a good thing.”
And the recent exit is a good thing for Eastes, his team and, more broadly, the Louisville startup ecosystem. SkuVault, a Louisville-based provider of inventory-management software (IMS) and warehouse-management solutions (WMS), sold to U.K.-based Linnworks for an undisclosed amount in early September.
Eastes, who will be 35 this month, founded the company with Slav Ivanyuk, as a senior attending University of Louisville’s Speed School of Engineering. The co-founders did a one-off project building an inventory management system for an e-commerce company, and quickly recognized the opportunity in the market.
SkuVault, which was bootstrapped until 2018, was funded through custom development jobs until the company was self-sustaining.
“We were building websites for people — stuff we did not want to be doing that was not building towards a longer-term vision — but it allowed us to hire our first few people,” Eastes recalled.
So when the company did seek outside capital, it already had the market traction investors were looking for and the networks to back it up.
Louisville-based Poplar Ventures invested in SkuVault’s $8 million Series A round led by Ballast Point Ventures in 2018. John Willmoth, managing partner of the local firm, was introduced to the company via Endeavor, a network of high-growth entrepreneurs that Eastes and Ivanyuk joined in 2016.
Willmoth became a mentor before he was an investor, which was a luxury getting to know the founders and the business long before they finally decided to go out and fundraise.
“I probably did say to Andy, ‘Look, I like your business, you’re growing at a nice clip, you’ve already achieved several million dollars of revenue on the software side. When you get to the point where you guys are thinking about raising capital, I’d like to be part of that conversation,'” Willmoth said. ” And that’s probably how I pitched it — like when they’re ready, just pick up the phone.”
John Willmoth, managing partner of the Poplar Ventures
Willmoth was impressed with Eastes’ knowledge of the market and the “why” behind the product SkuVault was building. But he could also tell that Eastes had established good relationships within his team.
“That means a lot — I had enough interaction with him to know that he wasn’t going to look at me sideways when I would tell him something he didn’t like or didn’t understand, he would try to understand or absorb it,” Willmoth said. “That mentality makes a big difference when you’re trying to grow a business because I’m not always right and he’s not always right. We have to have the ability to be able to work through those things and be cooperative about how we do it.”
Willmoth wasn’t the only local mentor that helped SkuVault chart a course to success. It gathered a board of heavy-hitters, such as Matt Thornton, formerly of Thorntons Inc. and founder and principal of Thornton Capital, Nate Morris, founder and CEO of Rubicon, and Len “Nappi” Napolitano, CEO of Capture Higher Ed, all of which are engaged with the Endeavor organization.
Plus, the injection of capital allowed SkuVault to build out its executive team. Today, it has about 100 employees, about half of whom are based in Louisville, where it has a headquarters at 2507 Plantside Drive.
The company, which shifted to 100% recurring revenue, worked head-down for years, Eastes said, focused on becoming the best-in-the-world at inventory management software for e-commerce.
Then that sector exploded during the coronavirus pandemic. Market consolidation was rampant, Eastes said, with larger players buying up smaller players to offer more and better features to their clients.
SkuVault looked to add multiple product offerings within its existing verticals, IMS and WMS, while partnering with other businesses in the supply chain ecosystem to gain leads. But then its partners were getting bought by competitors, and those high-conversion leads started disappearing.
“It started to feel almost like musical chairs where you didn’t want to be the last one out,” Eastes said. “That was sort of what prompted us to start looking at the market closer and raise our heads up a little.”
As companies like Amazon moved to more distributed inventories to offer faster ship times, SkuVault, in turn, looked to offer the software to support the complex challenges that come with those distribution centers.
“It became, ‘OK, how do we do that? Do we build it? Do we buy it? Do we join a bigger partner?'” Eastes said. “I think we sort of explored all of those to some degree, but it became a question of what makes the most sense, strategically and very much from a product focus.”
That’s where Linnworks came in. The company offers e-commerce enablement software and order management systems (OMS), which complements SkuVault’s existing offerings.
Together, they look to accelerate growth of omnichannel sellers. Marlin Equity Partners, a global investment firm with over $8.1 billion of capital commitments under management, is the majority shareholder of the combined company.
And today, Eastes is in the midst of integrating the companies, a new challenge he seemed excited to take on.
“I learned a lot in this process recently, and I’m going to learn a lot over the next few years,” he said. “Who knows what’s next — but ultimately, I want to help other companies get created and grow.”
Gun.io is a Nashville-born global talent agency that has spent the last decade getting the world’s best software developers hired on remote, long-term engagements with forward-thinking organizations. The company uses proprietary software and a unique, personal approach to massively outperform industry-standard hiring practices. In today’s competitive technology hiring market, organizations and software professionals work through Gun.io to get to work faster and reduce complexity and risk.
This month, Gun.io entered into an investment partnership with Ballast Point Ventures and raised $5.2M to accelerate its growth, the first such investment the company has taken on in its decade of profitable operation.
The company will direct the investment into improving the hiring experience for its 20,000+ users:
Vetted software professionals will be able to land their first paid engagement on the platform faster, while Gun.io does the hard work behind the scenes.
Hirers will be equipped with data-backed recommendations for competitive salaries that will help them land (and retain) world-class talent.
Professionals will be equipped with data-backed recommendations for market rates based on their skill and experience level; no more guessing how much to charge.
Professionals will see a dramatic increase in full-time and freelance jobs on the platform, including opportunities to broaden their skill sets.
For developers who want to increase their earning potential, Gun.io will offer mentorship across both professional and software skills.
Over the last ten years, Gun.io has paid out over $10 million to developers across the world, and has helped organizations access the kind of software talent that powers Silicon Valley darlings. Organizations like The Motley Fool and Custom Ink have expanded their development capacity with Gun.io engineers, and those same engineers have helped founders build and launch category-defining products.
“When we first met with Ballast Point Ventures, we were immediately struck by how aligned we were not just on the opportunity in front of Gun.io, but on our philosophy of how to build an enduring company through controlled and measured growth,” said Teja Yenamandra, co-founder and CEO of Gun.io. “Robert, Laura, and the team at Ballast Point Ventures not only have a great deal of practical marketplace experience, but they are disciplined investors that conduct themselves with the highest level of integrity. That is precisely the culture we’re building at our company, and that focus on enduring relationships, integrity, and competence is precisely why our companies and developers choose to work with us instead of the myriad options they have. We look forward to building Gun.io together and continuing to transform the tech recruiting and staffing landscape.”
“Having gotten to know Teja over the last several years, we have been very impressed with the company that he has built in Nashville. We know the problem that he and Gun.io are tackling is a large and growing one, as we have heard firsthand from our portfolio of software companies about the challenge of finding high-quality software developers. This dynamic, coupled with the acceleration of ‘work-from-anywhere’, and gig worker trends, got us excited about partnering with Gun.io. Teja and his team have achieved significant growth with minimal outside capital investment, showing focus and determination that impressed us from the beginning,” said Ballast Point Ventures Partner Robert Faber, who will join the Gun.io Board of Directors. Laura Stein, who joined Ballast Point Ventures as a Vice President this past Spring, will join the Company as a Board Observer. Stein commented, “Gun.io is a great fit for us, given its headquarters in the Southeastern United States and its capital efficiency to-date. We are excited to partner with Teja, Tyler, and the rest of the team at Gun.io.”
YPrime, LLC, a global leader in cloud-based eClinical solutions, announces the addition of two key members to its executive team—Mohan Ganesan, Chief Financial Officer and Alison O’Neill, Chief Operating Officer.
As chief financial officer, Mohan Ganesan provides financial and strategic guidance to the company and partners with our investors and executive team to drive investments appropriately. Mohan provides financial oversight and leads the development of standardized business metrics for finance, accounting, business operations, and human resource functions.
As chief operating officer, Alison O’Neill oversees the departments responsible for project management and quality delivery of YPrime’s products and services. With more than 35 years of clinical research experience beginning as a bench chemist in the pharmaceutical industry, Ali has held executive roles in global organizations providing technology solutions to the industry.
“It’s a real privilege to add these two experienced leaders to our executive team,” says Shawn Blackburn, CEO, YPrime. “We have always been about ensuring an optimal experience for sponsors, sites, and patients. Under Mohan’s leadership, we will be able to make strategic decisions about investments that will serve our clients’ ever-evolving needs and measure the impact of our business. Ali’s depth of expertise allows us to continue enhancing our products, processes, and services to meet the needs of these crucial stakeholders throughout a clinical trial.”
A business that’s spent more than 15 years growing in and around Tampa’s music scene has raked in $37 million in its latest round of fundraising.
Symphonic Distribution, a music distribution and streaming-focused tech firm based in downtown Tampa, closed its Series B round in late 2021, with Philadelphia’s NewSpring Capital leading the way. Tampa’s Ballast Point Ventures, which led the company’s $4 million Series A fundraising in 2017, also participated.
“We just felt like there’s so much capital out there that now would be a good time to explore some opportunities,” Symphonic CEO Jorge Brea said. “Thankfully that worked out.”
In a statement, NewSpring partner Brian Kim said Symphonic’s technology “offers independent artists the tools needed to supercharge their careers and expand their reach.
“We’ve been impressed for a long time with what Jorge and the team are building at Symphonic,” Kim said, “everything from their patented technology to their incessant focus on putting the independent artist first.”
Brea founded Symphonic in Wesley Chapel in 2006, working with independent artists both local and national to get their music onto streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, as well as distributing it through more traditional, physical means. The company sponsored local concerts in Tampa Bay and showcases at South By Southwest, among other ventures, and expanded to an office of nearly 30 in downtown Tampa. Today, the company has dozens of employees in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, South America, Europe and Africa.
Even as parts of the music industry shut down during the pandemic, there was still “a lot of excitement and interest in this space,” Brea said, with publishing companies shelling out huge sums for music rights, and firms making hefty investments in Symphonic competitors like DistroKid and United Masters.
“There’s a good runway for the music industry to keep going,” he said.
With the $37 million investment, Brea plans to hire, doubling his technology staff to 20 or even 30, and adding A&R representatives to work the music side of the business. Symphonic might explore acquisitions of complementary companies in Europe to expand its footprint in the music-tech space.
The company is also keeping an eye on the nascent NFT world and what blockchain technologies could mean for the world of music distribution.
“For us, we’re not looking to build a marketplace, but rather work with key artists, maybe ones that have a certain level of traction, to partner up with various exchanges and just help coordinate drops and market them,” Brea said. “We’re wanting to keep an open mind and be able to work with many artists, but be selective in the process, as well as work with many exchanges, just because there’s so many of them now.”
Before the pandemic, Symphonic had looked at expanding its downtown Tampa footprint. Those plans have scaled back as the company has adopted more of a hybrid work model. But with this latest infusion of out-of-state capital, they have all sorts of options.
“I’ve loved Tampa ever since I moved here in ‘92,” Brea said, “and just to be a part of this city and be able to help put more business eyes on it as well is a very, very awesome thing.”
Tampa-based investment firm Ballast Point Ventures has closed its latest fund with $190 million in commitments.
The firm’s initial goal for its fourth fund was $165 million, which it closed in January 2021. But interest from investors, both old and new alike, continued to climb.
Institutional investors, family offices and about 50 entrepreneurs participated in the fourth fund, with roughly 100 total investors.
An oversubscribed fund is not particularly unique for Ballast Point, which oversubscribed nearly $25 million in its third fund in 2015. Partner Drew Graham said anything below $200 million is “key” to sticking to the company’s strategy. That strategy means investing in three to four companies per year, with investments that run between $5 million to $15 million.
It’s a strategy that helps Ballast Point stand out, according to partner Paul Johan.
“The companies that aren’t ready for a $15 million to $20 million round can be in a position for a $5 million check, and we don’t have to pressure them to take more capital,” Johan said. “A lot in the region we don’t see competing in that size, the $5 million to $8 million [rounds]. It’s where we’ve been the last five years, and it’s positioned us well.”
Ballast Point was founded in 2001 and has partnered with over 50 companies across its four funds. It invests in companies across the Southeast. The firm primarily focuses on technology and health care, which have seen upticks during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have companies that were largely impacted [by Covid-19], mainly on the health care side,” said Matt Rice, a partner at Ballast Point who leads the health care practice. “The good thing about having a diversified portfolio, a big chunk is software and technology — which benefitted during the pandemic. … Like a lot of entrepreneurs, we also had to adapt in order to get to a successful outcome.”
Rice added remote patient care is a trend Ballast Point is following. Partner Robert Faber, who focuses on technology, said he has some trends to focus on with the new fund.
“We’re big believers in data to make decisions; we spend a lot of time in cybersecurity,” Faber said. “Any business-to-business tool which simplifies and takes the frustration out of the process.”
Ballast Point has already begun deploying capital from its fourth fund, investing in four Florida companies over the last year:
March: Led an $8 million Series A in Bradenton-based Pacemate
May: Participated in a recapitalization for Lutz-based Suncoast Skin Solutions
September: Led a $5 million Series B in Santa Rosa Beach-based Key Data
December: Invested in a $37 million Series B for Tampa-based Symphonic Distribution
“All four being in Florida is huge for us,” Partner Sean Barkman said. “And hopefully, we’ll end up with a majority of companies in Florida in this next fund.”
January 4, 2022 – Starting the new year off on a high note, leading independent music distributor and technology platform Symphonic Distribution announces that it has received a $37M Series B investment. Led by NewSpring and Ballast Point Ventures, the new investment comes on the heels of funding announcements by other industry participants, further solidifying investor interest in music technology and distribution.
The financial milestone follows a string of exciting announcements for Symphonic, including partnerships with TIDAL and Joyner Lucas’s music start-up, Tully, as well as expansions into Africa and Mexico. Headquartered in Florida and with international presence in Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and more, Symphonic remains a 100% independent distribution and music technology company that continues to work with some of today’s most unique and innovative artists.
Given its Tampa location, Ballast Point Ventures has worked closely with the team at Symphonic since its Series A investment in 2017.
“Watching Jorge and Taylor scale a homegrown Tampa technology company in the fast-growing music industry has been very impressive. We are excited to continue as their partner for this next leg of growth, and we are further excited to welcome NewSpring to the investor group as Symphonic prepares for its future growth.” – Robert Faber, Partner, Ballast Point Ventures
NewSpring Growth, NewSpring’s dedicated growth and expansion strategy, partners with industry-transforming, fast-growing companies with talented, innovative management teams to support their growth, and Symphonic represents exactly the type of company the strategy targets for investment.
“As the global trend toward streaming continues to guide the future of the music industry, Symphonic’s distribution platform offers independent artists the tools needed to supercharge their careers and expand their reach. We’ve been impressed for a long time with what Jorge and the team are building at Symphonic, everything from their patented technology to their incessant focus on putting the independent artist first. We look forward to working closely with Jorge and Ballast Point Ventures to broaden its offering and help Symphonic reach even higher levels of growth.” – Brian Kim, Partner, NewSpring
Founded in 2006 by music producer Jorge Brea, Symphonic provides global digital music and video distribution through a comprehensive and best-in-class technology platform, marketing planning and strategy, including playlist support, and a comprehensive suite of services for artists, record labels, managers, and distributors. Symphonic has worked with clients such as Surf Mesa, Stick Figure, CloZee, Laura Marano, Rachel Bradshaw, El Alfa, Juan Luis Guerra, Pi’erre Bourne, DJ Nu-Mark, Doechii, Nick Murphy aka Chet Faker, and La Ross Maria among many others across a wide variety of genres worldwide.
“On behalf of all of the team members of Symphonic, I can’t put into words how excited we are about the next chapter. The partnership with NewSpring, along with our existing investor, Ballast Point Ventures, will help position Symphonic as a strong market leader in independent music technology, services and distribution. This investment will enable us to invest more in our clients, our technology platform, strategic initiatives, intellectual property and other acquisitions.” – Jorge Brea, CEO, Symphonic
NewSpring partners with the innovators, makers, and operators of high-performing companies in dynamic industries to catalyze new growth and seize compelling opportunities. The Firm manages approximately $2.5 billion across five distinct strategies covering the spectrum from growth equity and control buyouts to mezzanine debt. Having invested in over 175 companies, NewSpring brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and resources to take growing companies to the next level and beyond. Partnering with management teams to help develop their businesses into market leaders, NewSpring identifies opportunities and builds relationships using its network of industry leaders and influencers across a wide array of operational areas and industries. To learn more, visit www.newspringcapital.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures (“BPV”), headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including software, technology-enabled business services, and healthcare. Ballast Point Ventures has over $500 million under management across four Funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $5 million to $15 million. For additional information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
Prepaid Technologies, a Birmingham, Ala.-based provider of prepaid digital payment solutions, today announced raising $96 million in new growth financing. Edison Partners, the growth equity firm, led the transaction, and StepStone Group (which recently acquired venture capital platform Greenspring Associates) co-led. Stifel Venture Bank, a Division of Stifel Bank, and Top Tier Capital Partners also participated. The company will use the proceeds to accelerate its market expansion and continue to advance its category-leading technology payments platform and customer-focused prepaid solutions.
Analysts estimate $120 trillion in business payments are still check-based, and service providers are fragmented across multiple vendors for verticals such as payroll, rewards, purchasing and disbursement. These four opportunities alone represent $80 billion addressable markets, growing at more than 10% annually and accelerating with the proliferation of smartphones, e-commerce, and digitized payments since the pandemic’s onset. Prepaid Technologies enables its customers to access and customize B2B and B2C payments across these segments with a unified innovative fintech partner with a focus on the consumer and end user experience.
“Prepaid Technologies is making it easy for businesses to transform their outdated disbursement, payroll, and purchasing processes with real-time digital payments across niche categories where competitors don’t have the same level of depth or expertise,” said Jennifer Lee, Partner, Edison Partners, who co-led the investment.
“This is a unique product offering, where a company can access and customize different payment solutions in a one-stop shop. We’re impressed with Stephen Faust and the management team’s ability to remain capital-efficient while growing organically and profitably. We look forward to working with them as they execute on their vision,” added Lee. “Modern payroll and expense management for remote workforces continues to see strong traction through the last 18 months. B2B payments are also trending higher as companies opt for disbursement solutions that make it easier and safer to deliver corporate funds. These tailwinds bode particularly well for the company’s growth and provide a moat for adjunct product opportunities.”
Prepaid Technologies has seen over 15,000% straight-line growth in its load value. Revenue has increased 9x over five years since the company raised its only round of outside capital, $5 million in 2016 through Ballast Point Ventures. The company has delivered a clear product-market fit with 1,700 customers and 450 active partners including banks, payroll processors, payment providers, such as FIS, emergent fintechs including digital banking platforms, enterprise technology companies, marketing, health and wellness payments processors, and merchant services providers.
Recent launches include the MyDashCard app and dashPerks, a cardholder cashback rewards program. Prepaid Technologies also enjoys strong retention metrics with notable blue-chip customers like Lowes, Taco Bell, Nissan, and Sony. The company is also seeing tremendous growth in its disbursements product which businesses use to pay their vendors electronically.
“We purpose-built our platform to create a turnkey way for companies to configure payments solutions across their enterprise however they operate. Clients access payments through our dashboard technology or integrate solutions into their workflows through our robust API suite. We’re laser-focused on productization and customization that will help to transition more companies to card-based and digital solutions. With this investment, and with Edison Partners’ expertise and experience, we can focus on investing in our current solutions, accelerating our industry footprint and expanding our suite of offerings to ensure our customers and partners achieve their goals,” said Stephen Faust, CEO, Prepaid Technologies.
“Loyalty payments and refund programs present an enormous niche opportunity. There is both a programmatic vertical opportunity and underserved community opportunity. Prepaid Technologies has an incredible load volume and data set, and the management team has deep banking and payments expertise, which we’re confident will bode well for the company’s continued growth and deliver value to customers and partners around the globe,” said Chris Sugden, Managing Partner, Edison Partners. Sugden will join the board of directors.
Recognized by LendIt Fintech as Fintech Equity Investor of the Year, Edison Partners has financed and guided more than 50 private fintech market leaders. The firm’s current active portfolio includes Bipsync, ComplySci, Fund That Flip, GAN Integrity, Giant Oak, GoHenry, Houwzer, MoneyLion, Nuula, Yieldstreet, and Zelis.
The investment in Prepaid Technologies is Edison Partners’ first investment in Alabama and is the firm’s third growth financing in an underserved market this year following investments in Boulder, Colorado-based The Pros Closet and Houston, Texas-based MacroFab.
About Prepaid Technologies
Prepaid Technologies is the fintech solution and payments program manager for more than 1,700 customers, providing innovative digital payment solutions including payroll, expense, gift, reward and incentive card products to employers, financial institutions, and government agencies. Learn more at http://www.in-prepaid.com.
About Edison Partners
For 35 years, Edison Partners has been helping CEOs and their executive teams grow and scale successful companies. The firm’s investment team brings extensive investing and operating experience to each investment. Through a unique combination of growth capital and the Edison Edge platform, consisting of operating centers of excellence, the Edison Director Network, and executive education programs, Edison employs a truly integrated approach to accelerating growth and creating value for businesses. A team of experts in enterprise solutions, financial technology, and healthcare IT sectors, Edison targets high-growth companies located outside Silicon Valley with $10 to $30 million in revenue; investments also include buyouts, recapitalizations, spinouts and secondary stock purchases.
Edison’s active portfolio has created aggregated market value exceeding $10 billion. Edison Partners is based in Princeton, NJ and manages more than $2 billion in assets.