Copenhagen-based Pleo announced today that it has raised a $56 million round of venture capital to fuel its European expansion.
While the company’s main product is a platform for internal spending and procurement tracking, the founders have a much grander vision. The real goal is to decentralize decision-making at companies in order to place more autonomy and power in the hands of employees.
“We want to build a product that enables what we see as tomorrow’s business leadership model,” said Pleo cofounder Jeppe Rindom. “This is something that allows companies to entrust their employees with the company’s money. We think leadership is going in the direction of being bottom up.”
Founded in 2016, the company allows clients to distribute smart spending cards to employees that are connected to the platform’s software and mobile apps. This allows companies to track spending in real time while eliminating the need to reconcile spending later. Along the way, companies can give a broader range of authority to more employees for daily spending decisions regarding supplies, resources, and partnerships while still maintaining transparency into how the money is being spent.
By increasing the number of employees with cards, the company believes it will transform where authority sits, and allow for more flexible and responsive decisions.
Currently, Pleo has 120 employees and plans to reach 400 by the end of 2020. The service is primarily available in Denmark and the U.K., but has also recently launched in Germany and Sweden. Rindom said the money will be used to both continue product development in order to expand the types of spending it captures, while also pushing into more markets.
The latest round was led by New York-based growth fund Stripes, but also included participation from Kinnevik, Creandum and Founders. The company has now raised a total of $79 million, and has still not spent its previous round of $16 million it raised, Rindom said. The reason for raising for money now, he explained, was to accelerate growth while also ensuring the company maintains a comfortable cushion in the coming months of expansion.
“In the first three or four years, we’ve been very focused on building the platform,” he said. “Now it’s about opening new markets. And we think we can do that faster with more money. And being a little bit more seasoned, we want to now move faster.”