This has included an increase in venture capital investments, attracted by a doubling of the middle class to include half the population over the last 15 years and projections that Brazil can become the fifth largest world economy within this decade. More recently though, the run of growth from commodity exports and internal consumption has lost steam, with GDP expected to shrink 2% this year, rising unemployment and inflation nearing double digits. In times like these, people have begun seeking out ways to rein in their spending and choose better financial products – something that does not usually come naturally and is complicated by the traditional lack of transparency of the Brazilian financial services market.
GuiaBolso (www.guiabolso.com) has tackled this problem by building the only Brazilian personal finance management platform to automatically aggregate people’s financial information so they can better understand their finances and keep track of their budget. The novelty and ease-of-use of the solution generated a buzz among consumers that helped propel GuiaBolso to the top of the finance app charts for iPhone and Android in Brazil, and recently surpass the 1 million users milestone.
“Better financial management can literally change lives, so users make a point of recommending the app to their friends. We recently measured that after a month of using our app, people improve their financial health by 15%, on average,” says Thiago Alvarez, co-founder of GuiaBolso.
GuiaBolso now looks to expand this impact, having just announced a third round of investment totaling $7 million from a prominent group of venture capital funds and angel investors. Ribbit Capital, a venture capital firm focused in backing FinTech startups in the U.S. and emerging markets, including investments in industry benchmarks such as Credit Karma and WealthFront, led the round. Other new investors included the philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network, founded and solely funded by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay; QED Investors, led by Capital One co-founders; Ed Baker, head of growth for Uber; Mark Goines, early investor in Mint.com; and Peter Kellner, co-founder of Endeavor.
Joining the round were existing investors Kaszek Ventures, Latin America’s largest venture capital firm, who led GuiaBolso’s previous funding round, as well as Brazil-based e.Bricks and New York-based Valor Capital.
“Last August, less than a month after launch, we hit our user target for the whole year – proving that there is huge pent-up demand for this type of solution in Brazil. Our continued strong traction impressed Silicon Valley investors, who recognized that we are addressing a real need in a market with no direct competitors,” says Benjamin Gleason, co-founder of GuiaBolso.
GuiaBolso is uniquely positioned at a time when the recession is prompting ever more people to seek out better solutions to help control spending and improve financial planning – an estimated 55 million Brazilians currently have overdue debt payments. Similarly, in the U.S., many current market leaders grew during the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, as banks pulled back credit and consumers sought new alternatives. Although in Brazil this trend of financial innovation is still more nascent, the size of the market and consumer demand indicate that it is ripe to follow the path of international ‘FinTech’ startups that have raised billions of dollars and are transforming the global financial landscape.
“GuiaBolso is not only a pioneer in this sector in Brazil, it also stands out among the thousands of FinTech startups we evaluate every year around the world in terms of level of innovation, brand-building, and their mission to improve the financial health of Brazilians,” notes Ribbit founding investor Micky Malka.
It was GuiaBolso’s potential to transform peoples’ lives that led Omidyar to support the company. “GuiaBolso has shown that it’s possible to build a sustainable business in Brazil while using technology to have a positive social impact,” says Arjuna Costa, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network. “We’re very excited about the company’s results to date and confident they will be successful in expanding the model to help millions more Brazilians better manage their money and invest in their future.”
The funds from the round will be used to further accelerate growth, with the goal of reaching five million users by the end of 2016 and offering ever more financial tools and products to help Brazilians navigate the current recession and future economic recovery.
GuiaBolso is a Personal Financial Management platform that automates the process of budgeting and control for Brazilian consumers, while helping them choose better financial products from a curated selection of partners. Utilizing proprietary technology unique to Brazil, the company has experienced explosive user growth and received extensive press coverage for its market-leading iPhone and Android apps. GuiaBolso was founded by McKinsey veterans Benjamin Gleason and Thiago Alvarez, who were also Managing Director of Groupon Brazil and CFO of a UNESCO national literacy program, respectively. The company is backed by six international venture capital firms as well as ten Brazilian and American angel investors.