France’s Upflow raises $15M to help businesses collect customer payments; looks to triple its team size within 12 months

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Paris-based Upflow, a company that enables businesses to effortlessly collect customer payments, announced that it has raised $15M (approx €12.36M) in its Series A round of funding. Using its SaaS solution, Upflow wants to help businesses modernise their full cash-cycle, and in doing so, help them with issues such as chasing late payments. 

Investors in this round

The round saw participation from 9yards Capital and existing investor eFounders. Additionally, several angel investors also participated, including N26 co-founder Maximilian Tayenthal; SVP Delivery, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty of Uber; and Raffael Johnen, co-founder & CEO at auxmoney.

As part of the development, the former co-founder and co-CEO of Westwing, Andrew Nutter will join the board. The company also attended YCombinator in Winter 2020.

Capital utilisation

The proceeds from this round will help Upflow invest in developing its product, with an ambitious roadmap on integrations, payments, and financial services. Additionally, the funds will also help the company to expand its distribution capabilities in the US by setting up a new office in New York. Besides, the startup is looking to triple the size of its team within 12 months.

Speaking about team expansion, in an exclusive interview with Silicon Canals, Alexandre Louisy, CEO of Upflow, said, “We’re currently a small but growing team of 20. In the next 18 months, we will triple the size of the team. As a product-led organisation, we will maintain an even split between the product and business teams, and we will be hiring across all functions. We are on the lookout for talented engineers, sales and marketing people, whether in our local offices (Paris, New York) or fully remote.”

Louisy also mentions that Upflow is expanding fast, both in the US and Europe. However, it has no plans to have a local presence in the Netherlands in the next 12 months; “our EMEA team is supporting any B2B company in the Netherlands,” he says. 

Solving the pain-point of the industry

According to Upflow, currently, businesses use a combination of manual processes and archaic payment methods to get paid. This often leads to a disjointed system that is reliant on manual interactions and creates high-friction and error-prone processes. This, in turn, can create late payments which remain an acute problem for the economy today. And this is where Upflow looks to make a difference.

CEO of Upflow, Alexandre Louisy explains the situation as it stands, and the company’s mission, “We are on a mission to revolutionise the way that companies get paid. At Upflow, we provide a solution that adds connectivity and clarity to a company’s payment and invoicing stack. Where systems were previously closed and disconnected, Upflow’s platform enables smooth and clear processes.”

He further adds, “By enabling a company to take control of its entire cash cycle, we want to help eradicate late payments. There is a common misconception that ‘late payments’ are only a symptom of big companies holding smaller vendors to long payment cycles. Upflow sees it differently: late payments are a tech problem, as B2B payments haven’t changed for decades.”

Currently, in the US, B2B payments are based on paper checks; and in Europe, despite modern accounting software, only generates a pdf invoice. The burden is still on the client to manually input banking details and make the payment. And these ‘high friction’ processes contribute to late payments. By rethinking the entire process, Upflow claims to unlock significant working capital, and thus growth, for those companies.

“Collect customer payments effortlessly”

Founded in 2018 by Alexandre Louisy and Barnaby Malet, Upflow is a software company building a payment platform for B2B businesses. The platform helps companies manage their unpaid invoices and improve their cash collection by using the company’s SaaS-based payment platform.

The company’s platform integrates with finance tools such as QuickBooks, Xero, Netsuite, and Chargebee. Besides, it also partners with payment gateways like Stripe and GoCardless, to provide business teams with a central hub to better manage communication with customers and payments.

Barnaby Malet, co-founder and CTPO of Upflow says, “We’re craftspeople that believe finance teams should benefit from simple, high-quality experiences that are on-par with the leading consumer apps. We have a pragmatic, fact-based approach, and we want everything about the company to be state-of-the-art: our HR policies, our processes, and our stack. We look forward to continually raising the standard for finance teams across the globe.”

Upflow has begun distributing the solution in the US, and has gained key users such as Lattice, Front, and Adikteev.

How was Upflow born?

In an interview with SC, Alexandre Louisy mentions that the company was started with one very simple idea: it’s 2021 and B2B businesses are still struggling to get paid on time by their customers. He says, many believed that this is a situation of bad payer problem, however the founders believed it was a tech issue for the industry as B2B payments haven’t changed in the last two decades and they’re covered with inefficiencies.

Barnaby and Alex met in 2017. They’re both passionate about entrepreneurship, payments, and how technology can solve complex and multifaceted problems. They started working together to solve this problem. After a couple of years working together and talking with thousands of finance teams, they realised that a much wider opportunity is lying in front of them, revolutionising how B2B companies get paid. 

And this is how Upflow was born.

“Upflow helps companies by seamlessly connecting their finance stack and allows them to regain control over their cash flows with rich analytics, collaborative workflows, and better payment options for their customers.”

Initial challenges and response

Speaking about the issues Upflow faced initially, Louisy says, “As we started working with our first users, we quickly realised that the problem was much more complex than anticipated. Indeed, B2B payments involve many teams, many tools (finance, accounting, billing payments), and many customers of different nature. In order to provide a great experience for our users, a simple onboarding experience is key. That can be challenging with so many parameters. As such, delivering the first cut of the product was more complex than anticipated, but fast iteration allowed us to get there quickly.”

Louisy says that they have seen “strong positive feedback” from their customers since Upflow’s inception, “thanks to a great product experience and visible financial improvements.” 

“In less than 2 years, Upflow now serves hundreds of companies using the platform on a daily basis, allowing better communication and payment to their 1.5 million customers. More than $200M are now processed every month through the Upflow platform.”

The company runs on a subscription model, indexed on the revenues of the company. “We are constantly adding new services to our offering.”