07 Jun 2017 | 10.02 am
€25m Funding For Fintech Startup Plynk
The Dublin startup launched its money messaging app in January
07 Jun 2017 | 10.02 am
Plynk, the Dublin-based startup behind the titular money messaging app, has raised €25m Series A funding – one of the largest such fundraisers closed by an Irish company. The fundraiser was led by private investment trust Swiss Privée.
Currently a team of eight, Plynk plans to hire an additional 20 people over the next 18 months. The company is an NDRC Launchpad accelerator graduate and was founded by Charles Dowd and Clive Foley in 2015.
Texting money to your buddies is the big idea behind Plynk. The iOS and Android app allows users to group chat like WhatsApp or Viber, but also to send money directly to users therein.
The venture uses a third-party payment platform regulated by the UK-based Financial Conduct Authority to operate throughout Europe. Plynk users create accounts similar to bank accounts, which can facilitate money transfers to and from other accounts, e-purchases with a MasterCard, etc. The accounts don’t offer credit cards or overdrafts.
Clive Foley’s career background in software development included stints with Microsoft, Ezetop and, most recently, Wonga. Charles Dowd has a background in startups and multinationals, having worked with Facebook in Ireland and the US for several years. He also co-founded Sohalo, a Californian-headquartered customer loyalty and marketing platform.
Dowd and Foley began working on Plynk in mid-2015, after meeting through a common connection in VC company Delta Partners. That middle man proved very fortuitous for Plynk. In a 2016 seed funding round, Plynk raised €725,000 from Bank of Ireland’s Startup and Emerging Sectors Equity Fund, which is managed by Delta Partners. Additional funding was provided by Delta Partners, Enterprise Ireland, NDRC and a number of angel investors.
“I have been involved in many startups up to this point,” says Dowd. “What I’ve learned is that it helps to know about how to raise money, hire teams, tell a story and focus on what is important every day.
“We have a big vision — this is what VCs are looking for. We have a track record of success (and failure) in startups and we were able to demonstrate an ability to execute early on,” Dowd maintains. “Every startup suffers from the ‘startup paradox’: not enough money to hire enough people to build enough product to get the customer traction you must have to raise money. Supports are fine — but you need to learn fast to work out how to navigate the system, otherwise you don’t even get started.”
Dowd explains that the idea for Plynk emerged from the lack of an effective person-to-person payment network. “A person-to-person network has to be different to the other networks. People need to have control and full transparency of their money, and how and when the people they care about get that money. They need something that works like cash: instant transfer of the full amount. At the same time, it needs to be more secure and less cumbersome than cash.”
Plynk’s user accounts are accessed through Facebook logins. Once a Plynk account is created, users receive a dedicated IBAN and virtual Mastercard for online payments. In addition, the application plans to integrate with both Apple and Android Pay.
Following a soft launch in January 2017, Plynk already has more than 6,000 users across Android and iOS within the Irish market. Expansion into Spain and Portugal is next, according to Dowd. “Our growth plan is simple: become a verb in every European language. Over 2017, we will use this secured funding to expand into new markets as well as add sterling to our platform. Hiring will also be a priority, adding more team members to continue development on our core product and to build more features unique to the social payments industry.”
Photo: Charles Dowd (right) and Clive Foley with Lesley Tully from Bank of Ireland