In November 2020 Upswot, an online banking solution provider founded by four Ukrainian entrepreneurs, brilliantly completed a Seed round of funding in the USA. Several institutional investors from this country, together with a plethora of business angels, brought $4.3 million to the startup, just 22 months after its inception.
The deal was announced earlier this month by Upswot co-founder Dmitry Norenko on his Facebook page.
In an exchange with Ukraine Digital News, Norenko described his platform as “a white-labeled portal deployed into customers’ private cloud and connected with the online banking application.”
Using an approach “similar to Plaid,” SMBs connect their data for “continuous, API-enabled access to QuickBooks, Xero, Salesforce, and more than 120 other business critical SaaS applications.”
“Data is aggregated in real-time and thousands of signals are analyzed to help SMBs better understand the health of their businesses via interactive dashboards,” he explained. “On the back-end, Upswot surfaces meaningful data for relationship managers to upsell the right products and services while building more meaningful and longer-lasting relationships.”
The Upswot technology is already used in dozens of financial institutions, claims Norenko, “helping them build loyalty and grow engagement among their SMB clients.”
60 industry-connected investors
The composition of Upswot’s investor pool suggests its technology is crazy appealing to industry players. One of these backers is First Southern National Bank, which “invested even before the pilot was completed,” Norenko wrote on Facebook.
Other backers include ICBA (Independent Community Bankers of America), in which Norenko sees a powerful “sales channel” for his startup; CFV Ventures, a fintech VC from North Carolina, which has “a huge network among the largest US banks” and is helping Upswot setup its HQ in North Carolina; Common Ocean, a hybrid VC firm that invests in fintech founders; and SpeedUp Group, a prominent Eastern European VC group based in Poznan, Poland.
But not only that. No fewer than 55 business angels also took part in the round — in majority, executives from the US finance and high tech industry, working in such companies as American Express, Citi, Google, HSBC, Microsoft, Oracle, PayPal, Raiffeisen Bank, and many others.
“They joined us because they believe [we] will change the financial industry and the way banks interact with their business clients,” says Norenko.
From Poland to NYSE
Upswot was founded in January 2019 in Poland, where it received a $50,000 equity-free grant. In 2020, the startup also received financial support from the Ukrainian Startup Fund, a state-owned fund. Currently the company has its technical team based in Ukraine, sales department in Missouri, and its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has 40 employees in total, with plans to increase its staff to 60 in the near future.
Norenko is not naive enough to see in a successful equity round only reasons to celebrate: “the founders and the team are diluted, and your company is no longer your baby only!”
However, fundraising “is a necessity so that the company can grow much faster… until we ring the NY Stock Exchange bell,” he wrote on Facebook.