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How a Brazilian startup’s pivot to corporate cards paid off • businessroundups.org

by Ana Lopez
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Portal 3 was founded in 2020 as a business travel startup and had released its product just as COVID hit Latin America and “closed all airports,” co-founder recalls Bianca Pereira.

Although the timing was “terrible,” she said, the company didn’t give up.

Pereira and co-founder Fernando Nery concluded that the software Portão had built could still be used to help enterprises with business expenses in general.

“We also realized that corporate cards are a great tool,” Pereira, a serial entrepreneur and former Cargill employee, told businessroundups.org. “However, CFOs in Brazil hate them, and we understand why, as they only receive a transaction statement at the end of the month that is impossible to trace… CFOs also worry that by decentralizing payments and empowering employees, they with fraud, payment reconciliation and an overall mess in operations that they will have to fix.

Portaos platform in combination with its company card solves the problem by doing two things, according to Pereira. First, it builds a business policy configuration in the platform that approves transactions.

“We call it budgeting; each is configured where employees can spend money, how much and when,” explains Pereira.

It also connects to a centralized billing platform, which automatically reads and interprets QR codes on receipts uploaded by employees to match the details for that transaction, check it for fraud, and ensure that each item has been purchased in accordance with company policy.

In 2022 alone, Portão 3 said it has facilitated more than $60 million worth of transactions and issued more than 1 million physical and virtual cards. Nearly 600 companies across Latin America are using the technology, including companies such as crypto company Bitso, CredPago, health insurance company SulAmérica and 123 Milhas. And it is impressive that Portão claims to be profitable as of December and continues to grow at 20% month-on-month.

Portão 3 says its software reduces 33% of time spent on payment management processes – aiming to make it easier for companies to control their employees’ spending on travel, fuel, tolls, meals and outside activities.

The company joined Y Combinator’s summer 2021 cohort, but only recently turned to institutional funding to help grow its business — closing a $3.6 million round of funding led by Better Tomorrow Ventures . Endeavor Scale Up, Fincapital, Pareto, Flexport and other angel investors also participated in the funding.

For now, Portão is according to Pereira focused on growth in Brazil, with a view to eventually expanding to Latin America as a whole. It plans to use its new capital to hire a product and growth team, and most recently hired an ex-Samsung executive to lead sales. currently, Portão has 30 employees.

Looking ahead, the company aims to target new customer segments in logistics, retail and freight.

Jake Gibson, founder of Better Tomorrow Ventures and co-founder of NerdWallet, said his company evaluated the opportunity to invest in Portão 3, it found that large enterprises in Brazil have access to corporate cards but, as Pereira said, they rarely use the products due to concerns about fraud, reconciliation and data decentralization.

Portal 3The company’s software aims to solve the problem for large enterprises by providing software that standardizes transaction data, verifies card spending to detect fraud and “dramatically reduces expense reporting time,” he said.

“As card issuance itself has largely become commonplace, Portão 3 has focused their efforts on building a financial management platform that provides controls and fraud detection to CFOs,” added Gibson. “By integrating into the various Brazilian government invoice databases and building technology to normalize and standardize that data, Portão 3 can verify all expenses on the cards and ensure there are no violations of the company’s expense policies.”

Better Tomorrow Ventures’ investment in Portão 3 is the latest in a broader thesis, Gibson emphasises. The company has also invested in this Driveway in the US and Mendel in Mexico.

“We’re very familiar with companies that provide software outside of business cards — it’s a model that we value and see a lot of value in,” he said.

Portão 3’s hub is similar to that of US-based Navan (formerly TripActions), which also initially focused on business travel, but now focuses on general corporate spend management for enterprises.

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