Karmic Labs wants to deliver the future of expense management. To get there it just raised $5 million, with Greycroft Partners leading the funding round.
Karmic Labs‘ product is called Dash. Dash offers clients of the company’s expense-management software an unlimited number of MasterCard debit cards, all of which managers can control in real time through the Dash app.
The cards are free for clients in the U.S., as long as they get used. There’s a $5 annual charge for cards that sit in a drawer, running up no bills.
That means any employee can have a company card at almost no cost to the company. For managers, that means there are fewer individual expense reports to handle; for employees, it means never having to wait for reimbursement.
In practice it looks like this: Let’s say a photography studio employee is out shopping for props for an upcoming photo shoot, and their card limits them to spending $100. When they get to the register they discover that the actual cost is closer to $110. That employee can shoot a request over to their manager asking for an additional $15, and Dash will send a push notification to that manager. The manager can approve the additional funds right from their phone, or from within Slack (a popular office communication platform).
In addition to the flexibly managed spending limits, Dash also lets employees attach photos and tags to each expense, so managers can more easily itemize them in their monthly reports.
Like its expense-management competitors Expensify and Concur, Dash’s app is available on both desktop and mobile. Budgeting and expense management are combined in its dashboard. Administrators can also link Dash to multiple bank accounts. Expenditures post to the app almost instantly, giving managers a transparent view into company finances at all times.
“We merged the payments layer with the actual transaction itself, so within seconds of the transaction you should be able to see that you made it,” said Dash CEO Ryan Weidenmiller.
It’s true that Dash is operating in a market that’s already taken up by major expense-tracking players (i.e., Concur and Expensify). That said, Dash takes a fresh angle on expense management by partnering with MasterCard to provide those free company cards.
“It’s a debit card at its core, but the real pitch is can we build a new age Amex,” said Greycroft partner Mark Terbeek. The selling point for Dash is that it doesn’t just help businesses manage their tally of expenses, it also enables employees to make business-related purchases without dipping into their personal funds.
Although right now Dash uses debit cards to help employees make transactions with company cash, it could eventually support other forms of payment — like a digital wallet or Bitcoin. As the market moves more towards digital forms of payment, Dash can go with it. As Terbeek notes, Dash isn’t tied to a physical card.
“Starting with the physical credit card is just where the market is today,” he said. Dash’s underlying technology manages payment processes, reconciliation with a company ledger, and storage, none of which requires it to be tied to a plastic card. Depending on which way the market sways, Terbeek said, there’s no reason why Dash couldn’t one day hook into the Bitcoin blockchain or any other new form of payment transfer.
That kind of flexibility could help Dash maintain and even grow its customer base as more businesses and their employees adopt new technologies like Google Wallet, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and others.
Until that day comes, Karmic Labs is partnering with global banking software provider FIS to help sell the platform.
Founded in the fall of 2014, Karmic Labs is based in San Francisco. The startup has a team of eight employees, some of whom hail from Google, Visa, and American Express. The company will be looking to expand that team in the coming months to support new customers.
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