Ten months after the seed round, Charlotte Pallua and Estelle Merle get 45 million euros. What excites investors about the B2B platform?
Any key to success? Here you go: underpromise and overdeliver. So promise less and less and deliver more. This is how you impress bosses, customers and investors. Charlotte Pallua and Estelle Merle did something like this.
In autumn 2021, the two founders presented their startup Topi to the public as part of a four-million-euro seed round, without revealing exactly where they wanted to go with the fintech in the future. Back then, Topi was – to put it very simply – a payment solution for B2B transactions.
50 million euros a year after its foundation
Only ten months later, the Berlin startup has already completed the next round: 45 million US dollars (equivalent to 45 million euros) of fresh capital are available to the two founders, 15 million of which are equity. The round was led by existing investors Creandum and Index Ventures, and the Silicon Valley-based fund Triple Point Capital also took part.
And Topi is now much more: The payment solution has become a “Hardware-as-a-Service platform”. The aim is to revolutionize the way companies – primarily medium-sized companies – procure hardware. “That was always our plan, but we wanted to be able to work on this product in peace over the last ten months,” says founder Charlotte Pallua in an interview with Gründerszene.
Changed economic situation as an opportunity
Plans are sometimes thwarted by reality. Other fintechs had difficulty arranging follow-up financing. According to Merle, they are also “happy and grateful” for the support their investors have now confirmed. “Of course we see that the market environment is changing, but we believe that this is an opportunity for our product,” adds her co-founder, “because it solves many problems for companies.”
An example: A medium-sized company needs hardware. These can be manufacturing robots for production, but they could also be 120 new laptops for sales, for example.
So far, Topi has been a kind of Klarna for B2B: a company wants to buy robots. If the robot seller uses Topi, the company does not have to buy on account and pay in advance, but finance conveniently online. “When the customer clicks on the ‘Pay with Topi’ payment option, he chooses: Do I want to finance for one, three or five years? Then we score the company in real time in the background and provide immediate feedback. If the company is creditworthy, we pay for the purchased product and then get the credit installments paid by the buyer.” This is how the founders explained to Gründerszene in December 2021.
New Topi product: rent instead of buy
The company could also finance the laptops – as in the example – with the help of Topi, but it could also say: I don’t buy them at all, I rent these laptops. Because: Buying involves a financial and administrative effort. And at some point the models are old, then I would have to buy new ones – I’d rather go straight into a leasing model. Just like Grover, Everphone and Lendis offer. Or in the way that Topi now wants to make it possible for all manufacturers and dealers.
The problem is that as convenient as hardware subscriptions are for the subscribers, they are complicated for the lending companies, hardware manufacturers and retailers. They need risk and fraud management, refinancing solutions, sensible integration of insurance offers and the associated cash flows. The founders of Topi and their now 35-strong international team have now developed all of this. The “Hardware-as-a-Service model” starts with a partner, namely Gravis. The electronics retailer is the first to offer a subscription model for electronic devices for business customers using the fintech platform.
“Our vision is to make purchasing hardware easier,” Pallua summarizes in an interview with Gründerszene. “This includes offering different payment methods, but also providing a platform on which the purchased hardware can then also be managed. We see ourselves as a platform that enables companies, dealers and manufacturers to do this – and not only in the electronics sector, not only in Germany and not only as a payment service provider. underpromise. Good strategy. If you then overdelivert later.