Going Global in FinTech: Why We Invested in Clara

Commerce Ventures
3 min readMar 13, 2023

Meeting the Clara Team

We’re fortunate to learn about investment opportunities through a number of channels, but one of the most fun is getting a referral from one of our other portfolio CEOs.

This is exactly what happened when Lluis Canadell, Co-Founder of Treinta, connected us with Gerry Colyer, the Founder of Clara (read more about why we love Treinta here.) Not only did Lluis have a very high opinion of Gerry as a leader, but we benefited from Lluis’ unparalleled knowledge of the market for LatAm FinTech (and specifically FinTech for SMBs). After the initial connection, we quickly found that several other friends of CV were not only believers in Gerry, but actually individual investors in the business, both of which helped to amplify our excitement about partnering with this team.

Clara is a corporate card & accounts payable platform for LatAm. In addition to providing a modern version of traditional corporate expense credit cards (in a region that is not well served by incumbents like Amex), the Company also integrates with customers’ ERP systems, and offers spend controls, net purchasing terms, expense management SaaS, embedded BillPay and FX / remittance services. Clara serves a range of customers from start-ups to SMBs, mid-market companies, and even at-scale enterprises (e.g. Rappi, Kavak, Uala, Hertz, Hilton, Fox Colombia etc.).

While we’ve seen a variety of other players in the U.S. market (Brex, Ramp, etc.) and in LatAm (Tribal, Mendel, Jeeves, etc.), many of these are primarily focused downmarket on startups or SMBs. Clara however, has a stronger foothold with mid-market and enterprise segments. Clara is also uniquely positioned to succeed in the broader LatAm market because of their ability to issue cards on a country-specific basis, while many competitors utilize only international issuing, which limits the universe of clients that can be served locally.

Our Market POV

  1. Underserved LatAm businesses hungry for a better solution. We believe current LatAm commercial clients are underserved by incumbent global financial institutions because their large scale results in products that lack localization. Additionally, their feature sets lack modern solutions like the virtual card issuance, dynamic spend controls, just-in-time (JIT) funding, and digital expense approval flows.
  2. Being a trusted provider opens up tremendous cross-sell opportunity. Winning with business of customers in one solution opens up the door to cross-sell other banking and payments solutions. We believe that Clara will be the top-tier choice for companies of all sizes in the region, which will give the advantage to expand their business.
  3. Serving players of all sizes. While most incumbent players in the US and LatAm have only found a fit with SMB, Clara has a track record of serving customers across the spectrum of maturity from startups to at-scale enterprises (like Rappi). This expands the addressable market opportunity of the space and should allow Clara to scale much more rapidly, while also getting more efficiency on its brand-building and marketing efforts.

We’re excited to be investing in the next generation of FinTechs who are opening up access to financial services for businesses around the world. Through our experience with commercial payments/FinTech winners like Bill.com and PayStand, we’ve learned that better software experiences and modern infrastructure and capabilities can unlock tremendous value for businesses that aren’t well served by incumbent institutions. Nowhere is that more clear than in emerging markets like Latin America.

Congratulations, Gerry and team — we couldn’t be more delighted to partner with you!

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Commerce Ventures

Early-stage venture capital firm investing in technology innovators in the retail and financial services eco-systems.