Opening a business bank account should be pretty easy, but after seeing firsthand how difficult it was, Salomon Zarruk and Sebastian Ortiz decided they didn’t want another Latin American company to get into the same trouble.
The couple, who worked together at Tpaga in Colombia, moved to Mexico a few years ago to launch the mobile wallet company, and let’s just say Zarruk was less than impressed with the experience. He even 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 to startups in Colombia. Zarruk and Ortiz, along with Juan Camilo Poveda and José Tomás Lobo, started Mono in January while going through Y Combinator.
Like Zarruk and Ortiz, Poveda has banking experience and has previously developed credit and banking products for Nubank. Meanwhile, Lobo has a background in technical operations and execution.
The company’s name is inspired by what happens after a fire in the forest, Lobo explains. Although the whole land is black and full of ash, it is still fertile, and when the monkeys move from tree to tree and eat seeds, they drop many of the seeds on the ground, which become new growth.
“Those thrown seeds are rebirthing the forest, and we like that analogy because that’s what small businesses do for the economy — entrepreneurs come in and make changes in the economy,” he added.
Zarruk called Mono “the first bankless bank” for startups and small businesses in Latin America, offering financial services and fully digital bank accounts that can be opened in about 15 minutes, compared to an existing bank’s average of two weeks.
He explained that the fintech can be labeled “the first” because he believes the company is the first to build a bank for entrepreneurs in Latin America, which he defined as an autopilot bank, which automates various accounting services that today are very manual. to be. When Mono tried to open a bank account at one of the major banks in Colombia, after filling out the paperwork, he still had no account even after two months, Zarruk added.
The bank account perspective is also where he argues that Mono sets itself apart from competitors who instead approach business accounts with credit cards, payment terminals or cash management products.
Mono is teaming up with a local banking partner in Colombia and building its own tech 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 driver as we want to help small businesses compete with incumbents,” Zarruk said.
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. The workforce has grown to 25 employees and the company expects to complete its senior leadership within the next year.
To maintain that momentum, the company announced $6 million in seed funding led by Tiger Global (interestingly, Tiger also backs an African fintech known as Mono). Soma Capital and Y Combinator also participated in the round. Mono has a whole team of angel investors, but highlights for this round include Monzo founder Tom Blomfield, Jamie Devlin of Revolut and founders of Belbo and Fintell.
With the new funds, Mono can plan for future expansion into other countries, such as Mexico, Peru, Chile and Brazil.
“We estimate we have about 24 months of runway, and the most important thing right now is product development,” Zarruk said. “We are building a strong tech stack to integrate with third parties so that we can begin offering various accounting functions such as taxes, accounts receivable and payable processes that are currently difficult to execute.”