Y Combinator-Backed Aspire Raises $32.5m to Reinvent SME Banking in SEA

Aspire, a Y Combinator-backed financial technology (fintech) startup based in Singapore, is keen on reinventing SME banking across Southeast Asia after raising $32.5 million in a Series A funding round.

In a statement, Aspire said the funding round was led by MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia and backed by Silicon Valley’s Arc Labs and existing investors Y Combinator, Hummingbird, and Picus Capital.

The startup, which operates across Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam, said it will use the fresh funding to boost its financial product offering and strengthen its local presence.

Aspire’s flagship product, AspireAccount, targets digital merchants and startups across the region that seek to create unique digital banking experience for its SME customers.

The product is free and comes with an instant credit limit for daily business expenses and tools to help SMEs manage their cash flow effectively, Aspire said in an announcement.

“We are extremely excited about the problem we are solving for this fast-growing generation of digital entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia,” said Andrea Baronchelli, Founder & CEO.

Since its establishment in January 2018, Aspire has seen 30 per cent month-on-month growth and expects to open more than 100,000 business accounts by 2019.

Ryan Collins, Managing Director at MassMutual Ventures SEA, the lead investor in the funding round, said Aspire helps solve multiple financial pain points for SMEs in the region.

“We are impressed with the quality of the product, the company’s technology infrastructure and its vast network of institutional partners,” Collins said.

MassMutual Ventures is a venture capital fund investing in seed to growth-stage companies in North America, Europe, Israel, and Southeast Asia. Its key areas of investment focus include fintech, insurtech, cybersecurity, data analytics, digital health, and enterprise software.

The VC firm manages $250 million across two funds – Boston-based MMV and MMV Southeast Asia (MMV SEA), headquartered in Singapore.

Aspire, founded by former Lazada executives, graduated last year from Y Combinator, a seed accelerator in the US that that invests in select startups twice a year.

Y Combinator makes small investments in return for small stakes in the companies it funds. All venture investors supply some combination of money and help.

Most of the founders in each startup it funds are expected to move to the Bay Area for the duration of the three-month batch. During those three months, founders participate in group office hours every two weeks and can meet with partners and experts for office hours as often as needed.

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