September 21, 2021
Hailing from Silicon Valley, Crowdz is an exciting Fintech company backed by Barclays and several prominent VCs.
I first met the team in late 2020 through a partnership Nebula/EG had with Techstars. We were regularly meeting with and assessing all of the startups that had gone through their accelerator program. Our main focus was Fintech, Proptech, and ESG.
Although we assessed hundreds of amazing startups and met plenty of bright and energetic entrepreneurs over the course of several months, two really stood out from the pack: Orbiseed and Crowdz!
Both companies are doing great things in their respective industries, and most importantly, we laid the foundation for lasting relationships with the teams of each organization. Intelligent, hard-working, and honest, these people share our enthusiasm for shaping the future.
Throughout this blog, we’ll take a closer look at Crowdz and where they stand today (I’ll cover Orbiseed in the near future).
At its core, Crowdz is a global invoice marketplace that enables Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to sell their invoices to banks, hedge funds, and other investors minus the need to file complex paperwork.
Additionally, they also offer a white-label service called ‘Supply Chain Finance as a Service’ (SCFaaS) that enables corporations to purchase their supplier’s customer invoices. This service allows enterprise groups to easily roll out a company-branded payments program that supports their supply chain.
Crowdz leverages its own proprietary algorithm called the SuRF score, which quickly determines the creditworthiness of both sellers and customers (buyers). SuRF stands for: Sustainability, Risk, and Financial — its power lies in the following:
Operates in real-time
Pulls from a variety of data sources
Gets better with more data
Crowdz has an intense focus on data gathering, analysis, and action. This, and their unique technology stack (built on Ethereum) is what separates them from the pack.
Now, with respect to the credit-driven algorithm, I know what you’re saying/thinking: “Other groups have done this before”; “This is nothing new”; “Who’s to say the algorithm works?”…I hear you, but Crowdz is the first startup (that I’ve seen) that really zeros in on the sustainability component. They’re actually going to be mapping out global supply chains. I can’t expand on this yet as there’s a lot being built, but I can tell you that the focus on this area is unique compared to other groups that typically stick to debtor/creditor days — along with credit scoring from the likes of Dunn & Bradstreet, etc.
Built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, Crowdz is one of only a small handful of companies to attempt this in the ‘invoice finance’ space. Crowdz is currently running on an Ethereum private node, using it as a ledger for invoice transactions that occur on their platform. Shortly, they plan to leverage NFTs (ERC-721) on the public chain to track invoices and conduct transactions.
Like me, the team behind Crowdz shares the belief that Ethereum is building the ‘Internet of Value’ and that the related distributed technology will be the main home to digital money, global payments, and applications. As a result, they wish to contribute to this effort and harness its full potential. Furthermore, using blockchain in this way allows Crowdz to combine two critical factors that occur within every financial transaction: the movement of value and the movement of information. In a traditional system, these two steps occur separately, but through Ethereum’s blockchain, they can occur simultaneously.
There’s more to say…but I’ll keep it focused at this point in time.
Being an American head-quartered company, Crowdz started its journey on home soil before expanding to Europe. But I’m excited to announce that we’ve got Australia in our sights and if all goes to plan, we’ll officially be there before the end of 2021!
The market ‘down-under’ is an interesting one. Although it’s currently dominated by ‘The Big 4’ banks, as the country moves through the various phases of its ‘Open Banking’ scheme, there’ll be ample opportunity to leverage previously untapped data-sets and use this information to inject some serious competition by way of product and customer experience. In fact, this is already happening — the Fintech space is currently booming in Australia!
According to a report issued by KPMG, there’s been an increase in the number of active FinTech companies in Australia (733 on record), and investment has grown to $1.4 billion USD. In other words, one could easily argue that the Open Banking scheme is a primary driver of this growth.
Interestingly enough, research from Envestnet | Yodlee determined that a majority of Fintech companies believe they are the main beneficiary of such schemes as they allow them to access new data and build new consumer products.
Despite this increase in competition at a startup level, the major banks will also benefit from the ability to leverage the latest technology, using it to better serve their large customer bases. A great example of this is the latest partnership between CommonwealthBank (CBA) and Crowdz competitor, Waddle.
It’s clear that CBA sees the value of leading with a technology-driven approach that sees SMEs tap into a more seamless experience when seeking access to funding.
The last quarter of 2021 is shaping up to be an exciting one. I couldn’t be more thrilled to help take Crowdz to my homeland and shake things up!