Clear raises $75 million from Kora Capital, Stripe and others

Clear (formerly ClearTax), which helps individuals and businesses file tax returns online, has raised $75 million from investors led by Kora Capital with participation from US-based payments major Stripe that made its first investment in an Indian startup.

Clear refused to share its valuation after the new financing, but people with knowledge of the development said it is valued at around $700 million. It was last valued at around $250 million, they added.

The new funding round also saw participation from Alua Capital, Think Capital and other existing investors, a senior Clear official told ET.

Just last week, Stripe – the most valued startup in the US at $95 billion – had
made its first acquisition in India, buying Recko, a Bengaluru-based provider of payments reconciliation software for internet businesses.

The back-to-back deals mark a shift in its strategy for India.

The Recko acquisition, according to Stripe, would help it expand beyond the core payments acceptance business and add to the existing bouquet of products like Stripe Revenue Recognition, Stripe Billing, Stripe Invoicing.

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Stripe entered the Indian market in 2017 but hasn’t been able to establish itself as a dominant payments player here yet.

Both Clear and Stripe are alumni of Silicon Valley’s storied startup accelerator Y Combinator.

Archit Gupta, cofounder and CEO of Clear, said the company will use newly raised capital to accelerate its expansion into business-to-business (B2B) credit and payments and grow its business in international markets such as Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

“Having established ourselves in the Indian market, we feel there is a lot of opportunity in markets that are on similar digitisation journeys as India,” Gupta told ET. “Cash flow-based financing is a low-margin, high-volume business which fintech firms are most suited in offering.”

He said Clear is seeing a “huge opportunity” in the invoice discounting and bill discounting-based financing space and has tied up with two major private banks in India for providing credit. He declined to disclose the names of the banks.

Clear is aiming to tie-up with five more banks by the end of the current financial year, Gupta said.

“Our SaaS (software as a service) platform has seen a five-times growth in the last 18 months, adding more than 3,000 large enterprise customers,” he said. “It also saw a surge in usage with over one million small businesses on the platform.”

According to him, the company’s platform now processes over 10% of India’s business invoices with a gross merchandise value, or GMV, of $400 billion.

Founded in 2011 by Gupta, Srivatsan Chari and Ankit Solanki, Clear is among the first set of Indian startups to be funded by Y Combinator. The company offers solutions like GST and e-way bill software, along with business incorporation and compliance services for enterprises. It also launched a platform for tax saving and mutual fund investment in January last year.

The company’s current annualised revenue run rate is around $25 million. “We expect it (revenue) to reach $45 million over the next 24 months and within the next 18 months, the company is likely to turn profitable,” Gupta said.

In total, the 10-year-old startup has now raised around $140 million. It counts funds such as Composite Capital, Elevation Capital, Sequoia Capital India, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and Naval Ravikant’s AngelList as its other investors.



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