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Credit-focused fintech startup Upgrade raises $40M after reaching $100M run rate

This morning Upgrade, a credit-focused fintech startup, announced that it has raised a $ 40 million Series D round that the company says gives it a $ 1 billion valuation. The Upgrade round slots neatly into a few trends TechCrunch has noted in recent quarters, including fintech startups raising at new, higher valuations, and some startups seeing sharp valuation growth on the back of comparatively modest raises.

Other startups that have steeply repriced on small investments, in percentage terms, include Notion more than doubling its valuation to $ 2 billion earlier this year off a $ 50 million investment.

In its Series D, Upgrade managed to, ahem, update its valuation from $ 500 million set during its 2018 Series C. Santander InnoVentures, the CVC associated with the banking giant Santander, led the latest investment.


Given the sheer deluge of fintech news in the last few years, you’re forgiven if Upgrade slipped through your nets. The company is a fintech startup with a credit-focus today, though it intends to add more neobank-like tooling — digital checking accounts, and so forth — in Q3. So, instead of starting with a checking-and-savings structure like so many neobanks, Upgrade kicked off with personal loans and credit cards.

The result of that focus, to hear Upgrade CEO Renaud Laplanche tell it, is that the company has managed to quickly scale its revenue base. This helps explain why the company raised so little money in its Series D; the company told TechCrunch it is currently on a $ 100 million run rate (month12, not quarter4) and is cash-flow positive.

On that note, how Upgrade managed to secure capital during the current, less certain era is somewhat clear from its growth story. (Growth, as we keep seeing, is still something VCs want to pour capital into.) According to Laplanche, Upgrade rang up $ 60 million in revenue in 2019 and expects $ 160 million this year. That’s nearly a tripling from an eight-figure base in a year — not bad at all.

If Laplanche’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the founder and former CEO of peer-to-peer fintech company LendingClub, which went public in December of 2014. Laplanche ran afoul of regulators during his tenure, leading to his ouster; he founded Upgrade after leaving LendingClub.

Upgrade has a different philosophy than some credit card providers, in the view of its CEO. “Banks have an incentive to keep customers in debt as long as possible,” Laplanche said during an interview with TechCrunch. Upgrade, in contrast, offers lower rates — cards starting at 6.9%, under what the CEO described as a market-normal entry rate of 12% to 13% — and set repayment periods for debts so that customers don’t wind up in a credit cycle that never ends, sapping them of financial health.

The model and Upgrade’s other products, like personal loans, have proved popular, by its own reckoning. The startup told TechCrunch that three million individuals have applied for credit from the company. That demand has led to rising loan volume — Upgrade expects to do $ 3 billion in lending this year, including $ 2 billion in personal loans and $ 1 billion in credit card volume, it said — and a growing user base.

That user base is part of why the startup is targeting banking in the near future. And that move is why it needed money. Let’s explore.


The startup’s move into banking makes a bit of sense, given that it already has customers. One constant in the fintech world is the offering of more services to existing customers, helping drive up their lifetime value (LTV) and thus making their cost to acquire (CAC) more palatable.

Upgrade is just doing this normal move in reverse. Instead of starting with checking accounts and debit cards, which yield regular interchange incomes, it started in higher-margin credit and is moving into the lower-profit consumer banking world next. Q3, according to Laplanche, is when we should expect to see more from the company on this front.

Which brings us to why Upgrade raised at all. Per its CEO, the company might run cash-flow negative for six to nine months after the launch of its banking tools. Upgrade could roll out the new services slowly, he said, but decided instead to raise external capital and be more aggressive.

Fair enough.

Upgrade is an interesting startup story and a comeback tale of sorts for Laplanche. More as we have it.

Startups – TechCrunch

Upgrade To Satellite Internet And Do Business From Home

Yes, pregnancy poses some challenges and limitations clearly does not affect your option to think or speak. Have you skilled with just one foreign verbiage? Do you have excellent communication skills? How about sales and marketing skill-sets?

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A top-tier program, although the initial cost is high, often around 00 to 00 dollars, shortly be making ,000 to ,000 per month, at the very least, and all starting inside your first monthly. When you calculate the amount time you work, a top-tier program brings in at the best least 0 per hour of work, and can be as high as 0 per time. If you’re going to work at home, would you rather make 0 on an hourly basis or .50 per hours? I know my alternative.

Arculus raises €16M to upgrade assembly lines with its ‘modular production platform’

Arculus, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based startup that has developed a “modular production platform” to bring assembly lines into the 21st century, has raised €16 million in Series A investment.

Leading the round is European venture firm Atomico, with participation from Visionaries Club and previous investor La Famiglia. Arculus says it will use the injection of capital to “strengthen product development, broaden customer base and prepare for a global rollout”.

As part of the investment, Atomico partner Siraj Khaliq is joining the Arculus board. (Khaliq seems to be on a bit of a run at the moment after quietly leading the firm’s investment in quantum computing company PsiQuantum last month.)

Founded in 2016, Arculus already works with some of the leading manufacturing companies across a range of industries. They include Siemens in robotics, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Viessmann in logistics, and Audi in automotive.

Its self-described mission is to transform the “one-dimensional” assembly line of the 20th century into a more flexible modular production process that is capable of manufacturing today’s most complex products in a much more efficient way.

Instead of a single line with a conveyor belt, a factory powered by Arculus’ hardware and software is made up of modules in which individual tasks are performed and the company’s robots — dubbed “arculees” — move objects between these modules automatically based on which stations are free at that moment. Underlying this system is the assembly priority chart, a tree of interdependencies that connects all the processes needed to complete individual products.

That’s in contrast to more traditional linear manufacturing, which, claims Arculus, hasn’t been able to keep up as demand for customisation increases and “innovation cycles speed up”.

Explains Fabian Rusitschka, co-founder and CEO of Arculus: “Manufacturers can hardly predict what their customers will demand in the future, but they need to invest in production systems designed for specific outputs that will last for years. With Modular Production we can now ensure optimal productivity for our customers, whatever the volume or mix. This technological shift in manufacturing, from linear to bespoke, has been long overdue but for manufacturers looking ahead at the coming decades of shifting consumer buying behaviours it is mission critical to survival”.

To that end, Arculus is making some bold claims, namely that the company’s technology increases worker productivity by 30% and reduces space consumption by 20%. It also reckons it can save its customers up to €155 million per plant every year “at full implementation”.

Siraj Khaliq, Partner at Atomico, says the manufacturing sector “is huge and the inefficiencies are well known”.

“We estimate that the auto industry alone could save nearly $ 100bn, were all manufacturers to adopt Arculus’s modular production technology,” he tells TechCrunch. “And beyond auto, their technology applies to any linear/assembly line manufacturing process – in time perhaps a tenfold greater market still. We’ve already seen the Covid-19 crisis hugely boost interest in the wave of startups democratizing automation, as companies try to build resilience into their supply chains. If you’re an exec thinking through this kind of thing right now, the way we see it, using Arculus’s technology is just common sense”.

Asked why it is only now that assembly lines can be reinvented, the Atomico VC says a number of building blocks weren’t in place until now. They include cheap, versatile sensors, reliable connectivity, “sufficiently powerful compute resources”, machine vision, and “learning-driven” control systems.

“And even if the tech could have been deployed, the motivation doesn’t come until you buckle under the pressure of increasing product customisation,” he says. “High-speed linear production lines are pretty efficient if you’re only producing one thing, ideally in one colour. But as this has become less and less the case, the industry reacted by incrementally improving, such as adding sub-assemblies that feed into the main line. You can only go so far with that… to be really efficient you’ve got to start fresh and be modular from the ground up. That’s hard”.

Meanwhile, Arculus also counts a number of German entrepreneurs as previous backers. They include Hakan Koc (founder of Auto 1), Johannes Reck (founder of GetYourGuide), Valentin Stalf (founder of N26), as well as the founders of Flixbus.

Startups – TechCrunch

#Domain rebranding: Handshaking.com sold “for a song” in brand upgrade!

 DomainGang.com: Matt Holmes is singing his “Handshaking” song, featuring rapper Sean Paul, and it’s a lighthearted approach to Covid-19. We’re going through strange times, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, that prevent us from shaking hands. The founder of Handshakin‘ offers direct networking with people around the busin…