Wise Raises to Support SME Banking Needs; Blue Apron Sees Improved Results


The FGB Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Wise raises to support SME banking needs; Blue Apron sees improved results; and Flutterwave Store launches. 

Wise raises to support SME banking needs

Wise, a new challenger bank built specifically for small businesses, has raised USD$5.7m in a Seed round. While Stripe and Shopify have transformed the face of commerce for small business users, when it comes to putting that cash somewhere, SMEs have found that the banking options aren’t quite as transformative.

The startup is aiming to insert itself as an essential service in the small business repertoire by bundling banking with payment services powered by Stripe. Customers can receive payments, manage their cash and pay employees all via Wise’s app.

Rather than plunging into direct customer sales, Wise is partnering with behemoth platforms like Shopify to onboard small businesses where they already are. The small team has already built up a customer base of 1,000 businesses. The average Wise customer has between 2-10 employees and is pulling in somewhere between USD$500,000 and USD$5m in ARR.

Blue Apron sees improved results

Amid reaccelerated marketing efforts, Blue Apron saw net revenue rise 8% and customers increase 7% sequentially from Q4 2019. The meal kit company reported that it has experienced a sizable rise in demand with different stay-at-home orders, restaurant restriction orders and other limitations “subsequent to the first quarter.”

Blue Apron

Chief Executive Officer Linda Findley Kozlowski said in the announcement, “As planned, we have started to deliver on the first stage of our growth strategy with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both net revenue and customers, along with continued strength in certain other key customer metrics, which we saw even prior to the impact of COVID-19.”

The company reported that it is putting measures into place to bolster capacity at fulfillment centers to meet higher demand, with the inclusion of decreasing variety in menu choices for a time and bringing new staffers on board. It also noted it has put into place safety measures such as “enhanced daily cleaning and disinfection policies.”

Blue Apron reported improved key customer metrics with the inclusion of orders per customer and average revenue per customer per the announcement.

Flutterwave Store launches

San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup Flutterwave has launched Flutterwave Store, a portal for African merchants to create digital shops to sell online.

The product is less Amazon and more eBay — with no inventory or warehouse requirements. Flutterwave insists the move doesn’t represent any shift away from its core payments business.

The company accelerated the development of Flutterwave Store in response to COVID-19, which has brought restrictive measures to SMEs and traders operating in Africa’s largest economies.

The service will start in 15 African countries and the only fees Flutterwave will charge (for now) are on payments. Otherwise, it’s free for SMEs to create an online storefront and for buyers and sellers to transact goods.

While the initiative is born out of the spread of coronavirus cases in Africa, it will continue beyond the pandemic. And Flutterwave’s CEO Olugbenga Agboola is adamant Flutterwave Store is not a pivot for the fintech company, which is an alum of Silicon Valley accelerator Y-Combinator.

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