It didn’t take much for the founders of Cora, Brazil’s newest startup to tackle some aspect of the broken financial services industry in the country, to raise their first $10 million.
Igor Senra and Leo Mendes had worked together before — founding their first online payments company, MOIP, in 2005. That company sold to WireCard in 2016 and after three years the founders were able to strike out again.
They built their initial business servicing the small and medium-sized businesses that make up roughly two-thirds of the Brazilian economy and represent some trillion dollars’ worth of transactions. But at WireCard, they increasingly were told to approach larger customers that didn’t have the same kind of demand for their services, according to Mendes.
So they built Cora — a technology-enabled lender to the small and medium-sized businesses that they knew so well.
The round was led by Kaszek Ventures, one of Latin America’s largest and most successful investment funds, with participation from Ribbit Capital — one of the most influential early-stage fintech investment firms globally.
“We created Cora to pursue our life purpose, which is to solve the financial problems faced by small and medium businesses. These businesses produce 67% of the Brazilian GDP but are totally underserved by the traditional banks,” said Senra, the company’s chief executive, in a statement.
The company is currently operating in closed beta and plans to launch its first product, a free SME-only mobile account, in the first half of 2020, according to the statement. Cora will later release a portfolio of payments, credit-related products and financial management tools that are currently being developed.
“So far, large financial institutions have mainly built products that focus either on individuals or on large corporate clients and have totally ignored small and medium sized enterprises, who are the most relevant creators of value in our economies,” said Mendes in a statement. “We want to offer a high-quality, customer-centric suite of financial products that address the specific underserved needs of our clients’ businesses.”