Katherine Regnier never liked standing in line. So almost a decade and a half ago, with a loan of $ 5,000, she decided to help businesses make it easier to schedule client appointments. As it turned out, Ms Regnier was on to something: Tuesday, her company Coconut Software Corp. will announce a new $ 28 million financing round to expand its reach among banks and credit unions across North America.
The increase is led by Toronto-based growth capital firm Klass Capital, with the return of many of the firm’s former investors, including Information Venture Partners, ScaleUp Ventures, Conexus Venture Capital Fund and Bay Partners.
This is the latest in a series of significant grants for businesses based in Saskatoon and for businesses founded by women in Canada. As the pandemic reshapes the way financial institutions meet their customers, Coconut and its investors believe they have significant growth ahead.
“It’s not all digital and it’s not all in person,” Ms. Regnier said in an interview. “Companies have to think about the whole experience. “
Daniel Klass, Managing Partner of Klass Capital, added, “People expect more convenience over time – and I think this trend continues, with or without the pandemic. “
Coconut helps clients schedule appointments with financial institutions with as few steps as possible, while giving these institutions and their staff dashboards to manage their relationships with clients, reminding them of key moments such as mortgage renewal times to help retain these customers.
The company says its software also helps people manage unscheduled trips to the bank, allowing them to register online and receive a message telling them when to arrive. In the age of physical distancing, this means not only less time online, but also less time spent in the cold or rain outside before entering a limited capacity hall. Less waiting time can mean greater customer satisfaction, while the check-in process also helps banks learn more about customer traffic patterns.
The company has Capital One Financial Corp. and Vancouver City Savings Credit Union among its customers, and has historical non-bank customers, including Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. – although Ms Regnier said she now primarily seeks clients from financial institutions. .
This change came in 2018, when she said that Coconut faced a choice about how to grow, after years of serving various businesses as well as small and medium-sized businesses: did she want to offer something for everyone or everything for a particular market?
“We couldn’t serve all of these markets and be exceptional,” Ms. Regnier said. “I can’t serve a salon as well as a bank. … We therefore chose financial institutions. People care about their money. People should feel valued when they go to their bank.
She said the company has experienced 100% year-over-year revenue growth since its first startup investment in 2016. While Coconut initially served primarily Canadian customers, the United States now represent around 80% of its activities.
Saskatoon businesses have attracted a lot of interest from private investors in recent years. Vendasta Technologies Inc., which sells digital tools to companies serving small businesses, almost went public this year, but withdrew its plans and raised nearly $ 120 million in private capital instead. In May, 7shifts Employee Scheduling Software Inc. raised US $ 21.5 million.
Sean O’Connor, managing director of Conexus Venture Capital, a dedicated Saskatchewan-based venture capital fund, said the fund had “outperformed even our wildest expectations” since launching in 2019, showing the value of focus on an otherwise underserved market.
The Conexus fund is one of Coconut’s investors. Mr. O’Connor, a director of Coconut, said many fintech companies focus on automating processes, while Coconut personalizes the customer experience instead. “FinTech companies are not exclusively built in the Torontos of Canada,” said Mr. O’Connor. “They can also be built in secondary ecosystems. “
Another early-stage Coconut investor was StandUp Ventures, one of the first Canadian venture capital funds committed to investing in women-led businesses, and which recently surpassed its goal of raising $ 30 million for a second fund. StandUp CEO Michelle McBane regularly points out that her investments in female CEOs and founders are not aimed at social impact, but generate strong returns in an underserved market. Coconut’s growth, Ms. McBane said, fits that thesis.
With Ms. Regnier’s intense focus on the financial institutions market and her knack for hiring the right talent, she and Coconut make “it all, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Ms. McBane.
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