The FinTech startup about to disrupt and digitize corporate spending by introducing smart corporate Cards, Pluto raises $6M to kickstart its scaling journey across MENA
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Corporate spend management startup Pluto came out of stealth and announced its Seed round of $6m (AED 22M) led by GFC, with participation from Adapt VC, Soma Capital, Graph Ventures, and OldSlip group. The startup, which is focused on the Middle East, also caught the attention of renowned fintech investors from Silicon Valley and MENA. Among angel investors that joined the round are founders from companies such as Plaid, Airbase, and Ramp. Notable MENA founders like Abdulmajeed Alsukhan and Turki bin Zarah of Tamara as well as Hosam Arab of Tabby also contributed capital to this round.
Founded this year, Pluto plans to help businesses in MENA digitize cash spend while eliminating the use of employees’ personal cards, by enabling businesses to instantly issue unlimited smart corporate cards with spend controls that can be connected to existing business bank accounts. Despite the popularity of similar solutions in other parts of the world, Pluto’s team is amongst the first to bring corporate spend management of this kind to the Middle East. The product will be first launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The Fintech sector in MENA gained more momentum in 2021 as recorded in our State of Startup Funding- 2022 Emerging Venture Markets Free Report. This was reflected in FinTech rounds closed in UAE including the likes of payments provider Tabby and Crypto-powered FinTech BitOasis, FinTech rounds in Bahrain by payment gateway provider Tarabut Gateway and Crypto Exchange platform CoinMENA, and across MENA with major rounds closed by Rasan Information Technology (KSA), Expensya (Tunis), and Dopay (Egypt). While the industry reigned atop the most active industries in MENA 2021 observing a 44% YoY growth in number of transactions, it made out second in terms of VC investment after Food & Beverage which made a stellar come back this year. In the UAE, the FinTech space has been providing intricate and specialized payment solutions with startups like BNPL provider PostPay, peer-to-peer payment platform Ziina, and Cards-as-a-Service startup SimpliFi observing fundraising success and investor traction over the past year. This gave rise to the space, where UAE-based FinTech startups observed more than 100% YoY growth in VC funding over 2021 as recorded in our UAE 2022 Venture Investment Report.
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Currently, most businesses in the region only have access to a single debit or credit card with no spend controls, which is extremely risky to share across the entire company. As a result, businesses have to distribute cash to employees for business expenses as well as burden employees with an overwhelming amount of out-of-pocket spend. “Businesses in the region invest hours into expense approval and tracking systems, taking valuable time away from their core tasks” explained Mo Aziz, the CEO and co-founder of Pluto. “We want to give local businesses flexible card limits paired with powerful spend management software, saving them time and money.”
Aziz, a Y Combinator alumnus, has been a leading voice for MENA’s fintech ecosystem since starting his previous company Dapi, a financial data aggregator and payment protocol. For Pluto, he is joined by an impressive duo of co-founders: CPO Mohammed Ridwan from Shopify and Square - Cash App as well as CTO Nayeem Zen from Square - CashApp, Uber, and Shopify. All three founders have a proven track record of scaling projects and building products in the B2B fintech space. Their reputation is backed by angel investors that have joined Pluto’s seed round, including senior leadership from Shopify, Alloy, Amazon, Square, Checkout, and Coinbase amongst others.
The company is growing quickly, with 35+ customers in the pipeline without any marketing efforts. Pluto is also taking advantage of remote work, with its team already encompassing three different countries — UAE, Canada, and the US. Pluto’s team is planning to spend their capital on rapidly expanding the team in the UAE and North America to bring the product to market within a few months.
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