Flourish Ventures, an early-stage venture firm investing exclusively in fintech companies in the U.S. and in emerging markets, has secured $350 million in fresh capital, ProWellTech is the first to report.
The new raise brings the four-year-old firm’s total assets under management to $850 million.
Unlike traditional venture outfits, Flourish is an evergreen firm, meaning that its investing is open-ended, or has no fixed end date. It has a sole LP in the philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network (led by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar) — from which it spun out in 2019. Flourish’s investment thesis is to not only back companies that have the potential to provide a commercial return, but also those it believes can “create systemic change” and help “build a more fair financial system.”
“Since our capital is permanent, we are more flexible and not subject to the same pressures of other funds that have to deploy or exit in a certain time frame,” said Tilman Ehrbeck, global managing partner and co-founder. “We believe that gives us a comparative advantage.”
The firm also aims to back companies that “demonstrate that either new or better ways of doing business are feasible, and via that successful demonstration, influence the performance of the entire [financial] sector for the better…So we are a fintech venture fund with a purpose,” Ehrbeck said.
Redwood City, California-based Flourish has backed 71 startups across five continents since its inception with about half of the fund’s capital having been deployed in the U.S. Notable investments include digital bank Chime, which was valued at $25 billion in its last funding round; Brazilian neobank Neon, which was last priced at $1.6 billion; embedded finance startup Unit, which was last valued at $1.2 billion; and African payments infrastructure company Flutterwave, which was last valued at over $3 billion.
“In all of those deals we were either the seed or Series A investor, ” noted managing partner and co-founder Arjuna Costa.
Notable exits for the firm include Grab Financial going public via SPAC, Ruma selling to GoJek, SeedFi being sold to Intuit and United Income sold to Capital One.
As part of its mission to create systemic change, Flourish partners with policymakers, regulators, industry leaders and ecosystem players such as Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR), Financial Health Network (FHN) and Consumer Reports.
Flourish’s managing partners and founders (and their regions of focus) include Ehrbeck (India and Southeast Asia), Emmalyn Shaw (U.S.) and Costa (emerging markets such as Latin America and Africa).
A portion of the firm’s new capital will be reserved for some follow-on investing, Shaw said. On average, Flourish’s first checks into a company range from $2 million to $7 million and it makes about six to 10 new investments a year.
“We can go smaller or flex up,” she told ProWellTech. “We try to lead or co-lead investments when appropriate, and take active board roles.”
Looking ahead, Shaw said that Flourish continues to lead into infrastructure and is seeking to back “next-gen” companies in the B2B payments and vertical SaaS spaces that are “embedding finance more deeply in the stack.”
“We are also continuing to look very deeply at the transformation of poor legacy infrastructure,” she said. “We know that’s a really difficult problem and deeply entrenched, but it’s one that we really believe to have massive system level change.”
The firm is also looking at data analytics across banking, insurance payments and lending identity.
Flourish also claims to tout a “diverse” team that is majority female and non-white.
“We are trying to be equally deliberate on the investment side,” Ehrbeck said, although he acknowledged that it’s difficult to define diversity when you’re talking about startups from different parts of the world, because what might be considered diverse in one country would not in another.
“In the U.S. there are a certain set of considerations, whereas in India, it has much more do with caste and backgrounds, for example,” he added.
As one data point, though, Shaw points out that in the firm’s last four new deals, all have female co-founders.
In the context of the broader investing landscape, the capital raise is no doubt good news for fintech startups, which have raised far less capital in recent quarters compared to the heyday of 2020 and 2021.
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