Started in Spain in September 2014, Spotcap aims to enable small business owners worldwide to invest and grow without having to worry about how to fund their projects via an online credit platform that provides flexible financing products.
Toby Triebel, the co-founder of the Berlin-based, Rocket Internet-backed startup answered our questions about the company, the product, and future plans, which include the imminent launch in the Netherlands.
FinSMEs: Hi Toby, can you tell us something about you?
Toby: I worked in finance for 10 years in London, at Goldman Sachs and Finisterre Capital, where I invested in credit, public and private debt in companies and banks across the globe. In 2014, Jens Woloszczak and I co-founded Spotcap, an online lending platform focused on the needs of micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
FinSMEs: How did you come up with the Spotcap idea?
Toby: Regulations are increasing, conditions are getting worse and banks are lending less. We know that small companies face significant challenges to access capital. Given this, we found an opportunity to combine technology and finance to provide loans to small businesses to help them grow.
FinSMEs: What’s Spotcap?
Toby: Spotcap is a fintech company leveraging big data to provide financing solutions to small businesses. We went live in September 2014 in Spain and we are now expanding to new markets, firstly to the Netherlands this week.
FinSMEs: Are you trying to disintermediate the relationship between the lender and the borrower?
Toby: No, we are not. Instead, we are trying to fill a gap in the market by providing loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises that are underserved by traditional banks, which don’t have the capacity and don’t want to serve them because they are too young, too small, etc. We do it by offering very competitive lending products, which are extremely fast to get. Users can apply in minutes, and get cash the next business day, transparently and easily.
FinSMEs: In 2014, we saw business finance startups going public in the USA. Other companies are growing. In this framework, what distinguishes Spotcap from its competitors?
Toby: Firstly, we don’t have a p2p approach. In this regard, we are more similar to a bank providing the funding ourselves and not taking retail money. In addition, from a product perspective, we spent months on optimizing our solution, to make the application process as quick, easy and transparent as possible, for example.
Finally, we aim to become the global leader in online small business lending and competition is something that we don’t fear at all.
FinSMEs: Why did you start from Spain and (now) the Netherlands? Regulation reasons?
Toby: No, we consider market opportunity reasons. Let’s have a look at Spain: it has more than 3m SMEs, employing 80% of the total private workforce in the country. But they face tremendous challenges in accessing capital to grow, having trouble with banks… In a few words, the business financing gap is particularly acute. Given this, 1) the opportunity and 2) the necessity of our product were the two main reasons that brought us to think about Spain as our first market.
FinSMEs: What about your team?
Toby: We have 50 people. The core team is already in place in Berlin with plans to open sales offices while launching the platform in the various countries.
FinSMEs: Have you already raised venture capital? Are you in the process to raise new funds?
Toby: We raised a €13m Series A funding round in 2014 (from Rocket Internet, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Access Industries) and we plan to raise additional vc rounds but I can’t release any further detail.
FinSMEs: In your opinion, will we see high street banks start acquiring services like Spotcap?
Toby: We haven’t seen this yet. In contrast, we have started seeing partnerships between online platforms and banks and, in my opinion, this is what we can expect to see in the near future.
FinSMEs: Future plans?
Toby: Fulfill our global growth plans. We have been working hard on the product, which we can consider user friendly and ready to help small businesses grow around the world.
FinSMEs: speaking about global growth…Do you consider to buy local players?
Toby: We have worked hard on the platform, on the website, on the processes. It’s a very scalable product and acquiring local players does not represent a plan at this point.