SG startup Aspire raises $32.5m in Series A round led by MassMutual Ventures

A man carrying an umbrella walks along the Jubilee Bridge in front of the city skyline in Singapore. Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg

Singapore-based startup Aspire has raised $32.5 million in a Series A funding round, led by Mass-Mutual Ventures Southeast Asia, a $50 million Southeast Asia fund of the US-based MassMutual Ventures (MMV).

The startup, backed by Y Combinator, serves small businesses with inclusive financial services products. Y Combinator is a seed accelerator in the US that that invests in select startups twice a year.

The current round of funding also saw the participation of Silicon Valley investor Arc Labs and the startup’s existing investors Y Combinator, Hummingbird and Picus Capital.

The corpus raised will be used by Aspire to boost its financial product offering and strengthen its local presence, it said in the statement.

Founded in January 2018 by former Lazada executives, Aspire currently operates across markets such as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam. It is building a scalable marketplace of banking infrastructure that leverages third party financial service providers to create a digital banking experience for its SME customers.

Its flagship product AspireAccount targets digital merchants and startups across the region. It is free and comes with an instant credit limit for daily business expenses and tools to help SMEs manage their cash flow effectively.

The company claims that it has seen a 30 per cent month-on-month growth since its inception and expects to open more than 100,000 business accounts by next year.

“We are very excited to be working with Andrea and his team to help solve multiple financial pain points for SMEs in the region,” said Ryan Collins, Managing Director at MassMutual Ventures SEA. “We are impressed with the quality of the product, the company’s technology infrastructure and its vast network of institutional partners,” he added.

MMV is a venture capital fund investing in seed to growth stage companies in North America, Europe, Israel and Southeast Asia. Its key areas of investment include fintech, insurtech, cybersecurity, data analytics, digital health and enterprise software.

The firm, which is the corporate venture arm of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, is currently managing $250 million across two funds – Boston-based MMV and MMV Southeast Asia (MMV SEA).

Last November, MMV announced its debut Southeast Asia fund with a target corpus of $50 million, along with the opening of its first regional office in Singapore.

The proposed Southeast Asia fund will focus on Series A and B investments in digital health, fintech, insurtech and enterprise software.

 

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.