Why Balderton invested in Numeral

Following on from the great coverage elsewhere, a few personal words on why Balderton chose to invest in Numeral.

From our side, this was a “no brainer” investment: a clear pain point for any business doing payments operations; a product-first founding team with strong relevant startup experience; shipping fast with early lighthouse clients.

To expand let me go back in time to give the full history of how our investment came about.

It started at Google London in early 2009, when my sales strategy team hired a new associate Camille Tyan who turned out to be a star. Neither of us stuck around for long — I was at Balderton by the end of the year — but we kept in touch. I tracked Camille through his journey as founder of Payplug and then as he started Logic Founders with eFounders, who we already knew well through our successful coinvestment in Aircall.

In January this year Camille started describing his first business with Logic Founders, something around business payment operations and treasury, and immediately caught my interest. We were well aware through our portfolio of the pain points tech companies face in working with traditional banks for payments. Often the companies are still having to make payments manually, with separate two factor authentication and manual rekeying. At best they need to transform individual payment orders into XML or flat-format files, then send to their bank in that bank’s unique format with an SFTP or EBICS server. Then they need to check for any errors and reconcile payments to their ERP. This adds cost, time and errors.

Compared to the innovation we have seen in consumer ‘pull’ payments, with the likes of Stripe, GoCardless and Primer, B2B ‘push’ payments have seen very little activity. This is despite B2B payments volume of more than $100 TRILLION each year. A new company can choose to work only with a neobank that offers decent APIs, or a payments-as-a-service company that has partnered with a bank, but most companies want to continue working with their existing banks rather than bringing another third party into the payments flow. This is an area I have been boring people about for some time, for example in this Sifted article: “Fintech doesn’t need another banking app. We want software”

We immediately loved the concept of Numeral, that a client could integrate to every bank through one API and automate payments through their entire lifecycle, from initiation to reconciliation. Importantly this is as a software-only API-first layer, Numeral is not in the flow of funds. The closest comparable business would be Modern Treasury in the US, but the B2B payments systems in Europe and the US are completely different.

I have been continually pestering Camille this year to get more time with Numeral. I first met Édouard in September and then Hichem in October. Both blew me away with their depth of knowledge on the sector and the rapid no-nonsense way in which they are building the product and business. Édouard’s first role was launching Jumia, Rocket Internet’s African eCommerce business, in Egypt, which was a great initiation into startup hustle in a new market. He was then VP Product at iBanfirst in international B2B payments where he learnt a lot about this market. Hichem saw a more traditional bank as an architect at Boursorama, then was a tech lead at B2B neobank Qonto. Their product focus, intelligence and experience give them deep credibility with clients.

We spoke to their early clients Swile and Spendesk and received two of the most positive client references you can expect to hear. It is really strong validation of Numeral for a successful scale-up business to choose a new startup for something as critical as payments operations. Numeral’s customer pipeline is broad: any business processing volumes of transactions per month such as in fintech, insurance, real estate or crypto.

In sum, we were really excited by Numeral, so we’re delighted we eventually persuaded Édouard and Hichem to let us invest. Thank you guys! It’s an area we have plenty of relevant experience in from years of working with our investments in fintech such as GoCardless, Primer, ComplyAdvantage and Revolut; as well as API-first SaaS businesses such as Contentful and Vivenu.

It is still early days for Numeral, but we can’t wait to get behind the team to support their growth internationally and through the payments operations stack.

Looking forward to fixing B2B payments operations together!

Partner at Balderton Capital in London, working with Zego, Wagestream, Cleo, Carwow, Mojiworks, Primer, PlayPlay, Dream. Formerly Google & Bain.