Fintech Startup Bluevine Secures $18.5M

Investors are backing Bluevine Capital Inc ., the latest in long line of tech startups that make money by easing cash crunches for small and medium-size businesses.

Other companies, such as Kabbage Inc . and OnDeck Inc ., extend quick online loans based on credit reports, bank statements and nontraditional data like social profiles. Bluevine is different in that it extends an advance to merchants based on their unpaid invoices, much like Taulia Inc . and FundBox Inc.

Bluevine pays merchants 85% of the invoice amount up front and pays the remainder, minus a fee which varies between 0.5% and 1% a week, to the merchant after the customer pays.

“We are basically purchasing customers,” Bluevine founder and Chief Executive Eyal Lifshitz said. “Marketing, janitorial, staffing…any small business that provides business is our market.”

New Bluevine customers typically wait 24 hours until money is sent to their account while existing customers wait about three hours, he said.

Mr. Lifshitz founded Bluevine in 2013 while he was a principal at venture firm Greylock IL, but the idea for the service actually came much earlier.

Mr. Lifshitz said that while growing up he saw his father, a physical therapist, often frustrated by 90-day billing cycles. Although there were many options available to accelerate payments, Mr. Lifshitz said the industry is largely offline, fragmented and inefficient as it is largely paper-based.

He decided to build an online solution, and Greylock IL, an affiliate of Greylock Partners which earlier this month announced had changed its name to 83North , backed his company, along with Lightspeed Ventures.

The two firms co-led the recent $18.5 million Series B round with participation from new investors Silicon Valley Bank and unnamed individuals.

“He completely over delivered on all the milestones,” 83North Partner Laurel Bowden said, adding that the decision to reinvest was an easy one. “We’d be naive to think that other competitors won’t emerge, but I don’t think it’s a winner-take-all market.”

The infusion takes total outside funding to $22.5 million and will be used to expand the team, build native mobile apps and begin marketing.

Mr. Lifshitz said Bluevine has hundreds of customers, 70% of whom return every week.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Bluevine employs 18.

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