Mono aims to become the “first bank-free bank” for small businesses in Latin America: TechCrunch

Opening a corporate bank account should be easy enough, but after seeing firsthand how difficult it was, Salomon Zarruk and Sebastian Ortiz decided they didn’t want another business in Latin America to face the same kind of difficulty.

The couple, who worked together with Tpaga in Colombia, moved to Mexico a few years ago to launch the mobile wallet company there, and let’s just say that Zarruk was little impressed with the experience. In fact, he told TechCrunch that opening a bank account for the company “was a mess.”

What they came up with was Mono, which means “monkey” in Spanish, a fintech company that provides corporate or corporate accounts for startups in Colombia. Zarruk and Ortiz, along with Juan Camilo Poveda and José Tomás Lobo, started Mono in January via Y Combinator.

Like Zarruk and Ortiz, Poveda has banking experience, having previously developed banking and loan products for Nubank. Meanwhile, Lobo has a background in tech operations and executions.

The company name is inspired by what happens after a forest fire, Lobo explained. Although the entire earth is black and full of ash, it is still fertile, and when the monkeys begin to move from tree to tree eating seeds, they drop many of the seeds onto the ground, which become new growth.

Mono banking dashboard example. Image credits: Mono

“Those seeds sown revive the forest and we like that analogy because that’s what small businesses do for the economy: Entrepreneurs come in and make changes to the economy,” he added.

Zarruk called Mono “the first bank-free bank” for startups and small businesses in Latin America, providing fully digital financial services and bank accounts that can be opened in about 15 minutes compared to an average of two weeks at a historic bank.

He explained that fintech can be labeled “the first” because he believes the company is the first to build an entrepreneur bank in Latin America, what he called an autopilot bank, which automates several accounting services that are today. highly manual. In fact, when Mono tried to open a bank account with one of the large Colombian banks after filling out the paperwork, after two months he still did not have an account, Zarruk added.

The bank account perspective is also where it claims Mono separates itself from competitors who instead approach corporate accounts with credit cards, payment terminals, or cash management products.

Mono operates with a local banking partner in Colombia and is building its own technology stack. It currently offers bank accounts with physical and virtual debit cards, the ability to make and receive wire transfers and make payments.

“Speed ​​is our motivation because we want to help small businesses compete with incumbents,” said Zarruk.

Much of the company’s growth has been organic. By March, Mono had attracted more than 300 customers and achieved a total payment volume of $ 1 million. Its workforce has grown to 25 employees and the company expects to complete its senior leadership within the next year.

To maintain this momentum, the company announced an initial $ 6 million loan led by Tiger Global (interestingly enough, Tiger is also backing an African fintech, also called Mono). The round was also attended by Soma Capital and Y Combinator. Mono has a whole squad of angelic investors, but highlights for this round, Monzo founder Tom Blomfield, Revolut’s Jamie Devlin, and the founders of Fintual and Belvo.

The new funds will allow Mono to plan for future expansions to other countries, such as Mexico, Peru, Chile and Brazil.

“We estimate we have around 24 months on the track and the most important thing right now is product development,” said Zarruk. “We are building a strong technology stack to integrate with third parties so we can start offering various accounting capabilities, such as taxes, accounts payable and payments processes that are currently difficult to perform.”

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