Meet Monite - They Make the Life of CFOs Easier


Executive Summary

Monite is a Berlin-based embedded finance startup, which is already active in the US, UK, and major European economies, despite being at Seed Stage. With their API partners like B2B neobanks, SaaS companies & marketplaces can embed Invoicing, AP Automation, and more in 3–5 weeks. They are looking for next year for their next funding and start to offer contract management.

We really want to make sure, that anyone who wants to offer workflows with financial documents … can integrate it with us. Ivan Maryasin, CEO & Co-Founder Monite

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The revolution is yet to happen for CFO tools.Ivan Maryasin, CEO & Co-Founder Monite

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Our tool could be build by bigger players in 12–18 months, but we give them an API with which they can start earn revenue in a few weeks.Ivan Maryasin, CEO & Co-Founder Monite

The Founder

Our guest is today Ivan Maryasin the CEO and Co-Founder of embedded finance startup Monite. He worked in Moskow, Boston, and the Bay Area, and finally ended up in Berlin in the early team of Penta, as head of growth. He left Penta, when he saw the opportunity for embedded finance tools, especially for CFOs, in order to set up Monite.

The Startup

Monite is an embedded finance startup, that enables non-financial companies to add financial functions without holding a license. The tool of Monite helps startups and SMEs automate some of their finance workflows. They enter the market another way, they are not offering their services to the clients directly, but enable the service providers to offer accounting and financial services, e.g. Qonto, and Penta.

They currently offer payables automation and receivables automation. Monite is currently available in the US, UK, and major countries of the EU.

In 2023 they will focus on contract management, to integrate in their functions.

Find all the Links and Show Notes here:

Topics discussed in this interview:

finance, treasury, embedded finance, treasury function, financial management, startup financial management, integration, saas, api, accounts payables, usa, uk, eu, germany, france, venture capital, hiring, open positions

Union is the subscription management hulp for B two B SACE companies. Whether you're looking to expand to new markets, experimenting with pricing models, or simply want the streamline quote to cash process, Union got your back. On top of that, Union Insights provides the SACE metrics you need for reporting to the board and for future company evaluation. It gives you the key figures needed to drive your business forward and take strategic decisions. Union we help SACE companies manage their B to be customer subscriptions. Welcome to start up bread dot Io, your podcast and YouTube blog covering the German startup scene with news, interviews and live efits. Hello and welcome everybody. This is Joe from Celebrate that I owe you start a podcast and YouTube block from the German speaking area in Germany, Austrian and Switzerland, as well as the world's number one check entrepreneurship radio called startup dot Radio. I know a little bit confusing, sorry about that. Today I would like to welcome Ivan. Hey, how you did, Hey Joeb, thanks for having me doing really well. Excited to do this podcast with you. And we have to tell the people that this is our second attempt to really do this. I had some technical issues with the software I'm usually using for recording, but fortunately the support helped me, and now we can do this scaring everybody. Guys where you can. We're using Microsoft Edge. The people just turned off here. Ivan, I have been looking at wood you have been doing, and I've seen you hold a Bachelor and economics and NBA from Halt, but you did a lot of, let's say, non economic stuff. You've been in marketing and consulting in Moscow. You've been a project management at Surich, You've been a marketing manager in Santigo, a project manager in Boston, and he stopped in several startups in the Bay Area, including in areas like marketing, PR and sale, and then you came to Berlin. Can you check us a little bit along? There's a very interesting, very international journey, and especially for the people out there listening, because right now as we're recording this, we are in the podcast shots of countries like Portugal, Mauritius and many many other interesting places. And then maybe curious, how do I get the job in the Silicon Valley or Boston if they like to work wear warm socks in the winter. Right now, absolutely happy have you to talk you through it. So I'm originally from Moscow and that's where I started my first business. When I was pretty early in my in my journey, I self learned marketing and I was always passionate about the whole go to market topic. It felt like I can really help the right technology up here in front of the right customers so they recognized the value. And that's pretty much what I started doing for small businesses first in Russia and then moved to Boston for for studies. UM ended up working with startup startups every since, and go to market functions could give a different focus, as you said, like b R, SCO, etcetera, but really came down to growing UM MRR or a r R, mostly in B two B sace companies. And then when I landed in Berlin, I started majority we spenta, um and and Penta. My focus has been as a head of gross just really growing out our bottom line, customers, revenue and all the key metrics. Everybody who's listening to this podcast for quite a while, and there are a few thousand people out there and they may remember the very energy the... founder of Penta named Luca and I was actually texting with Luca when we set up this interview, and I quote him he said, Ivan's amazing. Penta wouldn't be here without him, you can quote me exclamation mark. Yeah, I appreciate good words from Luca. We've been been a lot of fun working together, especially in early days. As company scale they change, but I think we had a lot of fun when we're just early sitting in a small apartment in Berlin using it as the office, very very special vibe. I think it's it's it was a true true startup days. Mm hmm. And I've read you helped Penta to grow from zero to twenty thousand customers. So what is the secret to get something like your first twenty or a hundred thousand clients? No, absolutely, look, I think I think it wasn't an easy journey. I think there are a lot of stories. How you know companies are so successful, but every success story comes after the right number of failures. So I think to us, I'm and in general in the market, but out of what I've observed, it comes down to pretty much first understanding the needs, and I think Pansa came very timely to market in the country Germany, where opening an account for business, especially if you're a foreigner, especially if you're not having track record with your local bank, was really difficult and really lengthy, and so Panta just addressed this UM this pain very very well. We could do something that no one in the market could do UM and we made it very clear to to our customers via the website and other channels. And it's actually cool to think that's almost of early customers came in balance through the website and they could find us, they could understand the value so in pants and it came down to pretty much understanding the needs, making sure that the messages are well well adjusted to the customers, and just making sure that whoever is looking for something like this can easily find us. So I think in the first step of the juror was more around positioning, explaining what we do, explaining how we're different. Now in the second stage, it was making sure that Panza is really number one or at least top three in all places where people can be looking for a bank account, be that a partnership website, would be that an online um kind of advertising, or anything else. And then I think the team did a tremendous job after that not only maintaining the brand, but really taking it to the next level. Or if you speak to an average businessman in Germany, almost everyone knows Penser. Even if they're not using Penza, they definitely know what it is. UM and the green cards that actually Luca always pushed forward UM stands out. Yes, there, there, there, they got a very shiny green They're very awesome. UM. At one point you decided to leave Penta and go for your current startup monight working on embedded finance, I would be curious what was the problem that first triggered you and how did you make your decision to jump ship and go for your own. No. Absolutely, it's actually never an easy decision to to move on, especially because Panta was in a very good trajectory back then just got a new influx of financing, etcetera. So I think for me, it came down to pretty much thinking about the bottom line of what I want to accomplish my career, and my focus has always been on the impact on the end customer. So I felt like at pen time definitely making a difference, But I saw a bigger problem in the market that wasn't being addressed, which was more related to general finance automation or back office automation of smmes UM and then I felt like no new bank loan or no platform alan can tackle this today because of how the space is structured. And um, there I and my co founder, who actually build one of the largest Russian new banks, we saw an opportunity to really make a disruption and really make a big fundamental step in really automating SMME finance, not just doing you know, one bit better or another bit better, but...

...really automating the picture. And I think crystallizing this picture. Having insights from Panta customers, having insights from a general European market, including for example, opening Italy for Panta. These were all the triggering moments that made me realize that there is something big out there. And whenever I see something big, I always make a compromise on you know, not having let's say a stable SEAHA seller as a founder, or missing out on stock or other things. But I think this decisions to focus on impact has been the guiding stars throughout my career and I continue basically doing that way. Um, for the people out there who read embedded finance, that's a new trend that that's a new hype board. How would you describe embedded finance, because for me, it would be you and able other companies to do some financial transactions, some financial processes without you showing up there directly. Would that be okay? Yeah, that's that's that's about right. So I think embedded finance in general comes down to like many sub sectors, but in general, it's ability for non financial companies, nonfintech companies to add financial functionalities or payments into their interface, most of the times without holding any licenses or actually having any expertise in the area, which means that it goes anywhere from just simply embedding a wallet and payments to more complex things like embedding certain licenses, etcetera, etcetera. Um I think what we do is is a sub segment of embedded finance. Um I would basically call ourselves embedded work clothes more than anything, because what we do is not related to let's say traditional embedded finance embedding accounts, cards, effects, or anything else. We're more focused on actually the finance automation workflows, back office automation, and then we basically link with other embedded finance providers to close the workflow, so we're more focused on things like embedded invoicing, embedded paying, most automation, embedded expense management. Uh, and then we pretty much connect the dots with payments with financial services throughout our partners. I'm right now smiling a little bit here because, um, one, you write on your website startups using up to fifteen hours a week to perform financial tasks. I do believe in many startups it's a lot more. And um, basically what you're saying, you automate everything. Most startups two with an Excel sheet, right, Uh, yeah, that that's actually true. I think there is, Like I think in the startup audience we all have a bit of misconception. That's because we're using cool tooling and modern too. Link Also the market is and that's also you know what comes up a lot in our talks with vcs. But in fact the situation is very different. And as A six zero wrote a while ago, the revolution is yet to happen in CFO tooling. And therefore what's important to realize is that most of the market is sitting with Excel for receivables, for payables, for many other things. They're not using modern tool link like even not even build dot com. Some of the people, for example in the US use quick books et touch for it, but it's far from being automated. So we end up having seventy eight almost ninety percent of sames in some markets not actually using the full automation or even the partial automation, and a lot of things they are doing by hands are very easy to automate. Now, the issue is very simple that convincing an same to use any sort of tool link is very difficult, as well as convincing them to use a neo bank or something else, which is why the market penetration of new tooling is super low. And while we started first at my need as a B two B company, we felt this plain very well and I also know it from Panto times. It's very challenging. Now. The way we approach the market now is turning it around and saying, look, there are so many platforms that already have businesses to trust them neo banks, vertical sas companies, fin tech sas etcetera. Why don't we let...

...them bring more value to their customers by embedding this finance automation. And that's pretty much where money comes in and does what we call all the boring works for this platform, the work that they're not willing to do because it's not their core business, but the work that really enables them to open up new value streams for their customers. And on the other hand, you basically utilize their client base, their marketing to do your job right. Correct. Actually we were just plug in the revenue stream into them. We are nowhere to be seen. So for a customer, lets say Panta or Conto or any software platform, it would look like Panta just shipped great accounts, Bailable Automation Solution or Conto just shift great invoicing. We would not be in the picture, but the customers would actually imagine that this is being provided by by their provider UM. And there's there's already a very good example for example of B two see where whoever is using revolute trade eating probably things that travel are being so cool, but there is driving wells API behind it. And the situations like this basically show that time to market to bring value is streamlined big time, and the newer banks or other companies just don't have to defocus. They plug in a specialized ABI and it just works. M M. I see and what are you guys currently offering. As I said, it's to the end customer. But basically you're here more talking to the entrepreneurs, to the people in charge of businesses if they could use one or two like building plucks of your tool to put it in their software. Absolutely. So the two products we have live today are Payable's Automation and Receivables Automation. To put it simple, the first product is really around paying paying vendors. So every business has built to pay every month. Now most of the guys around it's for email, downloading everything on their computer, storing and and Google Drive. It's a complete mass, and then it's manual payouts from account. So we offer a solution that allows companies to centralize all their payables in one platform, be that a new a bank or they're I don't know, barbershop software and then pretty much run specific approval flows and release payments that step one. Next year we're going more in the direction of covering the whole contract to pay work flow, where we will also deal with procurement, with contracts management and really connects the lots across the flow. But for businesses to have it all in one platform, so they won't have to use like contract management software here and procurement there and invoicing here. It's all in one place, and we've seen this product. There are basically software components which is pretty much gathering bills, doing o c are, building approval flows, etcetera. And there are also components around payments which we built together with our partners, and those allow people to leverage some of the very successful revenue models that exist in the markets, such as for example, bill hop or milio in the US, where people can for example pay their vendors with a credit card, therefore extending the bill payment terms, or they can actually use BNPL rails and again defer the invoice payments. The second product we have is Receivable's automation. In simple words, it's invoicing embedded into the platform, so it's flexible invoice issuance. It's storing products, in storing customers, sending offers, sending invoices. Everything is compliant for a specific country and includes e invoicing compliance where invoicing is mandatory. And then the idea is that there is pretty much the simple invoicing functionality of like let's put together a really nice invoice make it look great, send it out. Then there is the second part of actually chasing people to pay the invoice. And then there is the third part that is probably most important and related to UM actually getting money in where basically combined payment lengths like one would get with quick books, Fresh books UM or stripe UH and that the saints time we...

...are adding more options like, for example, advanced cash on a need voice via our BNPL provider or something like this. So the solution that we offer in a basic version of a PI is probably something people could build a house, especially bigger players. We've seen around twelve to eighteen months of time, spending quite a lot of resources. We give them something out of the box that they can go live with in stratified weeks of time with pretty much minimal technical work UM. And then the idea is that they start earning money with this almost right away. And the r Y is very high because the amount of value they provide UM is definitely bigger than what could be in typical mpig B. They can much faster whack the competition. I see, what's what's the now? You have to like building blogs elements lego blogs, however you want to call it. What is the final vision down road. Yeah, that's a great question. I think we were aspired to be um the default provider in terms of um APIs when it comes to every every possible financial workflow that has to deal with financial documents or similar matters. So we really want to make sure that anyone who wants to offer this sort of functionality to clients can work with us and pretty much offer them the streamline workflow, be that payables, be that receivables, be that expense management, be that pre accounting or cash flow analytics. In the end of the day, if we cook all the data in the same pot, if we have high data accuracy, if we have direct interchange of these data between all the counterparts, especially globally, this will bring a completely new reality to the markets where a lot of technologies needed today like for example, o c ARE, like international payments or like other things might not even be needed in the car and shape it form. So I think our vision really strategies into saying, look, we really wants to spread the nets UM and run the sort of the nets the API network for all financial documents exchange for all the financial automation workflows. That's part number one. There is part number two where, at least from my experience, I see a huge disconnect between so many great financial services and the small businesses that are supposed to use them. If you ask a typical Billy like provider or a Myerst like provider, a lot of these guys who build an amazing product, for example, for e commerce players or small businesses are struggling with go to market because they still have to acquire customers directly on the market via Google ads, via Facebook ads are similar. Now, the picture we foresee in the future is that the consumption of financial services for businesses has to be a contact suhow i e. You actually get factoring in the place where you do invoicing, you actually do invoice insurance. Again in a place where you do invoicing, you use BNPL as an option to pay a business bill. And now for this to happen, we really have to connect the dots. And that's why the second part of the net visions acts into enabling the open plug for all those specialized providers to actually become a p a first in their goal to market when they actually know and can trigger up cell in the right point in time, which means that a typical new bank or a typical software company would now be able not only to earn from payables or invoicing as a software offering, but actually to earn a margin on all the financial services the customers can consume. Now we've seen in the workload, we see in their interface, and if we're making friction less, I'm pretty sure that the penetration of these great financial services to market will increase big time. M HM. You've been talking about being available in different markets. Where is you pronounce it monight? Yeah? Yeah, where where are you guys? Available? Sure? So we are now available in the US, UK and major countries of the U. Our plan until Series A at least is to stay focused...

...on the resurgence UM, and then as we raise more financing, we can scale. Now, the truth is that scaling for us UM comes at a cost, but it's a lot lower than UM if we were building, for example, the B two B side that I eat directly to the customer. So the way we built infrastructure allows us to quickly scale to new markets UM and add for example, things like invoicing compliance or payments that are localized to specific markets UM, etcetera. And The beauty of our business is that at the moment we're not bound by any licenses. We don't need local licenses. For example, I don't know payment licenses to operate in the location. Will average providers for that, which means that our goal to market time for new regions is a lot faster. M hm um. You talked about funding up seeing you raise something like a little bit over six melling as dollars so far in seed and precede and you investors include Ralph Mueller, ex Deutsche Bank board member and the CEO of Iron Gene Germany point seven T two ventures from New York City, Victor Jacobson, the co found of Klana, Molly founder Adrian Mole, former Google payment boss Jonathan Weiner, and senior director from Paper Phil Volka. How did you get your hands on those people? And is it? Does it prove to some of the investors you're talking to that there's really something about your idea? Absolutely does. Let me start with the ladder. I think, um, the VC sentiment many times goes around who is already invested, and most most of the times they also ask why these people invested? So the good thing about our situation is that for instance, point seven to two is known as an expert investor. It only do many deals. They are very focused on fintech and embedded finance, and they have very very good reputation, which means that every time we say, look P seventy two, let the last round, it does create an impression. Now in terms of how we how we found all these angels. So the general the general sense again and look, I'm my first time founder, so I had to learn it all from scratch. The general sense I got from more than two years in a game is that great people stick with great people. So you've really got to make sure you find at least one angel or at least one VC that is really good because a lot of good people and a lot of good Angels, and a lot of good other vcs will actually be around them. And this is pretty much how we how we started. For instance, Ralph was one of our first angels and he's been extremely helpful in building the business and he's up until this point. Now. Point seventy two came around, but they also brought in the angel network, some of which you already named. Um that the guys who came in the last round. So the general, the general recommendation that would make for anyone who is who's raising trying to find a really really strong lead investor or at least the lead angel who will bring the network with them, and it's usually marginally a lot easier to close plus one or two or three um cool people founders exacts if you already have one or two, because they all know each other and they all speak to each other. So sometimes just saying that, for instance, we also have Tom Stafford from DST sometimes saying that Tom Stafford is invested tells it all to people. They trust the judgment of the other person so much that they would actually come along because they think you're cool and it makes sense. Now. The one per condition to this is that the market is split into people who kind of trust you with the vision and invest more into the people's side, and people with a strong hypothesis in the area. So in P. Seventy two case, P. Seventy two had a hypothesis around what we do before they found us, so they had a view on the market that was very strong, and when they found us, they were just making sure that we're the right team to build this. And I think this is this is...

...a rare occasion because most people will actually UM kind of expect you to bring the idea to them explain why at school. They might not have a pre made hypothesis or a strong view in the market. Yet, M and I also found where you guys are currently spending your money. I've seen you have at least foot the employees fifty two percent growth in the last six months and on average the people out there less than half of you. So that means you are currently hiring as crazy. Is that's still true? I think I think now given the market situation where we're being more cautious UM and optimizing the cash burn UM, I think we're about thirty seven people now. Actually we've grown a lot SINCEEDS now. The secret to this growth is very simple that unlike many other companies, especially based on the U or based in the US, we're not burning money in Crazy EU or u S. Texas were a deployed a teams, especially for taching products in locations that are tax efficient, like for instance, Georgia, which means that we don't have to pay high margin on top of employee salary for taxes, and this means we can afford more people at the lot lower birth. So for instance, if we had our h Q or most people in Israel in Silicon Valley in Germany, we would probably be able to afford the team that is half the size we have right now. M M. I see. And we guys officially headquartered. We're officially headquartered in Berlin, UM and our hubs are pretty much Berlin, London, Amsterdam and Bilici in Georgia, and and and and again that's just just a comment on that. I think our challenge has largely been assembling a team of senior fintech experts. Covid made it harder in a sense that people got picky. People aren't willing to move anymore. They just want to work where they are, which meant that we also have to adjust. Our head of API is ex head of API Eddian. To get this guy on board, we had to create very comfortable conditions for him to join. We have ahead of product design from back base, we have great people from PPS, our payments lead or UM to b S who is leading our A R E P from Salonis. Now, to get all these people together, we had to pretty much accommodate where they're located and create a work structure that allows us to do so, which meant pretty much several things. First, it's creating the hub structure and investing more into team events together people in one place. Second one was deploying like many people in the market, remote work solutions like remote dot Comer deal um. And then the third one, actually I'm now sitting in the we work but this really helped. We actually got to work a laxis, which means that we can use any work in the world, and wherever our guys are, they can just go into any new work they want, which which definitely helps when they're all in different locations and we can't possibly pay for a proper office in every of those locations. H I see see, But you still hiring and in some positions right correct, So coming back to hiring, so I think we we have still a couple of roles open. We're mainly looking for people in products UM, and we're accelerating our tech side as well UM. So always always open to two good people, even if we're not publishing vacancies openly. Most of the times, we're open to get new folks on board, and especially as you know we ramp up the customer acquisition side, maybe get some more financing, this whole thing starts accelerating. That will be like my uh, last one statement, one question, one statement would be down here in the show notes. We link your company website. If you're listening to this on audio only podcast, on YouTube or something, there's a link to our blog, postal medium and there you find a links um. So basically you can there have a look at the open positions or mail out. Of course you linked the profile is also link... the show notes. And just one more question. You've been talking about Series A raising more funding. Uh, you would be open to talk to new investors and what is like rule of thumb approximately the timeline for Series A. Yeah, Joe, that's a great question. So I think given the current market dynamic and the general situation and the sentiment, would probably be looking at Series A somewhere between meet next year and and of next year. UM. Fortunately, our runway allows us to pretty much last until then UM and focus on traction in building the product. Now, we're always talking to new investors. We get on average five seven new VC funds every week. We always entertain those conversations, not only because it's it's great, UM, it's a great way to keep in touch with the market, but also because vcs are actually one of the best source of client introductions for us, at least so far. We've been growing fully organically on and on VC interests, So whoever wants to talk to us were very open to to consider UM and then as the fundraise comes, we are definitely taking you investors. Well, I would say basically that's all the questions I had. Thank you very much with an awesome interview, and UM, best of luck and hopefully we can talk soon next year, like end of next year, UM about your successful fundraising. Thanks a lot, Joe for having me totally my pressure. Have a great day, Bye bye, thank you bye. That's all. Fuls. Find more news streams, events at interviews at www dot's startup red dot Ile. Remember Sharon is Caring.

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