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Payhawk.io: Bulgarian Fintech Startup Closes a €500K Seed Round to Help SMEs Deal with Expenses

Boyko Karadzhov (l) and Hristo Borisov recognized the problem Payhawk.io is solving during their time at Progress. ©Jordan Mihajlov, TrendingTopics.bg
Boyko Karadzhov (l) and Hristo Borisov recognized the problem Payhawk.io is solving during their time at Progress. ©Jordan Mihajlov, TrendingTopics.bg

Remember the last time you had to buy something for the company you are working for and went through the long and painful reimbursement process? Then you will understand, why Payhawk.io is so well received among investors, and not only.

Founded in the summer of 2018, Payhawk.io launched its product less than 20 days ago and already has paying customers on three markets. The fintech startup has developed an expense management system designed for small and medium businesses. Payhawk.io has just closed a seed round of €500K from eight business angels and Eleven Ventures. Moreover, this is not the company ’s first funding.

Pay me if you can

“Some years ago while I was still part of one IT company, I had a very large budget under my management. However, every time I needed to spend $200-$300 I had to deal with documents and red tape for at least a week”, Hristo Borisov, co-founder of Payhawk.io recalls.

This was during his time as Product director at Progress and the moment he started recognizing a market need. The problem is that companies usually have one-two firm cards and they are held by the owners. When employees need to pay for something, the process is long and annoying, involves invoices, accountants, additional transfers.  Logically, after Progress, together with his colleague Boyko Karadzhov, they started working on the solution.

Enhanced Revolut for small businesses and startups

They came up with a system that allows the instant issuing of digital and physical (takes several days) debit cards for employees. The manager decides what the budget each employee could spend is, sets an account and limits, and could monitor expenses real time. It works similar to Revolut.

“To be able to see your actual spending in real time and coordinate it with the set budgets is crucial for small businesses”, Borisov explains.  

Employees could take photos and upload invoices in the system so the accounts could do their job as well. The Payhawk.io software extracts all the data from the invoices and sends accountants structured and ready to use reports. As simple as that.

Payhawk.io allows the instant issuing of digital or physical debit cards for employees. ©Jordan Mihajlov, TrendingTopics.bg
Payhawk.io allows the instant issuing of digital or physical debit cards for employees. ©Jordan Mihajlov, TrendingTopics.bg

Since the official launch of the product in February 2019, the team of 7 already has attracted eleven clients from the UK, Germany, and Bulgaria. The company has two types of clients – well-funded startups with teams of around 20, and larger companies with up to 150 employees. The pricing is the same for every client – it starts from €10 per user monthly.  

The company has its R&D in Sofia and a sales office in London. Unlike many startups, Payhawk.io has decided to offer the product on the local market and to support Bulgarian currency and Cyrillic interface. The target markets are, however, the UK and Germany.  

Eight angels, one fund and counting

The first investment of €150K came from Telerik co-founders Vassil Terziev and Svetozar Georgiev in the first days of the venture, long before the product was live.  “Before a single line of code was written, Payhawk.io had validated the concept. Before the infrastructure, there had been around 20 iterations of the value proposition and customer development. There are only a few companies that have reached that maturity so quickly”, Terziev told us in a previous conversation.

In January, Payhawk.io was recognized as one of the most innovative fintech companies in Europe at the Paris Fintech Forum. The startup won the prize – a strategic partnership with payment operators – Visa and Wirecard, in a competition with 50 companies from 18 countries across Europe.

Now the company announces its second investment round of €500K to double its team and develop the sales office in the UK. Besides Eleven Ventures who backed the company with €300K, and Terziev and Georgiev, who followed-on their previous support, other domain experts from Bulgaria and the UK have joined the round. Among the investors of Payhawk.io are now Perry Blacher, Fintech advisor to Google, and Senior Digital Advisor to Barclays UK and Mark Ransford, Investor and advisor to high-growth startups in the fintech sector. The two Bulgarian financial entrepreneurs – Nedelcho Spassov and Stanimir Vassilev, co-founders of Management Financial group, are also part of the pool.

“The presence of so many well-respected investors in this round speaks of the quality and potential of Payhawk.io”, Daniel Tomov, partner at Eleven Ventures commented.

 

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