Why We Invested in Brightflow AI - Financial Intelligence for Sellers
September 19, 2022
We are excited to announce that Brightflow AI has raised $15M in Series A from Haymaker Capital and Bonfire Ventures. Bonfire led Brightflow’s seed funding of $4.2M back in 2020, bringing their new total funding to $19.2M. The company also secured $100 million in debt financing from the i80 Group to provide essential growth capital to new and existing customers.
Founders - Robbie Bhathal, CEO and Jeffrey Priebe, CTO
At Bonfire, one of the ways we evaluate a potential investment is by asking ourselves if the product is a “vitamin” or a “painkiller.” By this we mean is it a “must have” or just a “nice to have” for customers. If you are an omnichannel business who sells via Amazon, Shopify, or D2C, we believe that Brightflow’s product is vital to your growth, and the customers we spoke to testified they don’t know what they’d do without it.
What is Brightlow AI and tell us more about the problem they are solving?
Brightflow AI is a financial intelligence platform that integrates with a company’s omnichannel finance data to provide real-time, comprehensive information around cash flow, inventory, revenue, advertising, and profitability. Brightflow integrates with Amazon, Shopify, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, QuickBooks and more, to allow businesses to access their financial data, ad-spend, and cash flow forecasting consistently, easily, and all in one place.
While e-commerce companies are able to distribute many different ways (Shopify, Amazon, Facebook, D2C, etc.), surprisingly, there’s very little visibility into where sales are coming from day-to-day. Without Brightflow, important sales and inventory information is most likely gathered individually and then manually entered into an excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet has to get updated manually, and won’t necessarily give you comparable details or provide cash flow forecasts.
When we were introduced to Robbie and Brightflow, we had the belief that if you are a seller, this is the kind of information you would want easily accessible. That's how Brightflow started, but we’ve always believed in Robbie’s longer term vision, which is to democratize accessible capital to companies. Robbie’s intention was always to be the lender. He’s enabling companies to borrow money to increase their inventory and sales so they can utilize the cash they’re actually generating.
When you first met the founders, was there anything that especially stood out to you about them?
We were first introduced to Brightflow’s CEO, Robbie Bhathal through Jen Richard, who saw Robbie present at Demo Day for the Berkeley Skydeck Accelerator. They both did their MBA’s at Berkeley Haas so it was an immediate connection. Robbie was an experienced entrepreneur who had worked for several companies and had always been thinking about how to capitalize on the growth of e-commerce. He is an extremely smart, big vision guy, with an outgoing personality and is very competitive, which I like. He has good intentions for how he treats people and subsequently has not lost a team member since starting the company.
Jeffrey Priebe, Brightflow’s CTO, is a great counter to Robbie. He's an incredible engineer, very technically oriented and thinks methodically. The combination of the two works very well. Robbie and Jeffrey checked all our boxes pretty strongly in terms of experienced founders, great team with a technical co-founder, founder-market fit, aggressive, grander vision, large TAM, and customers loved it.
We always speak to customers during our due diligence process. What did their customers have to say about Brightflow?
Brightflow’s largest customer at the time was growing quickly from $5 to $8 to $11 million, but having difficulty accessing capital to grow faster. With Brightflow’s platform, they were able to see up-to-date information, allowing Brightflow to make a lending decision to them much faster and more efficiently. When I spoke to the founder, she said, "I don't know what I'd do without this platform now. I'm used to seeing all this information differently than I've ever seen it before."
What's it been like working with Robbie and the team on their journey from Seed to Series A?
Our vision when we led the seed round was to provide enough capital and time for the Brightflow team to build and execute. We have had a front row seat to Brightflow's 10x year-over-year revenue growth and the company's maturation from Seed to A. We have been very involved in working with the team to build and to raise both the Series A and the lending facility. We couldn't be happier with the results.
Read more about Brightflow’s latest fundraise announcement in TechCrunch: Brightflow AI aims to spotlight small business cash flow.