Leetchi has seen 86% of its capital acquired by French Bank Credit Mutuel Arkéa in a deal valuing the payments startup at more than €50 Million, the two companies announced this week. The deal, which will see its historical investors, who injected a total of €7 Million into the startup since its founding in 2009, will include an injection of €10 Million into the company.
Leetchi quickly rose as a success story when it launched its app, Leetchi.com, which allowed users to pool together money for, say, a wedding or birthday gift. A predecessor to the crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter & Indiegogo, Leetchi’s rise corresponded to the rise of the French startup scene in Europe – in fact, Leetchi’s first investors, Kima Ventures, invested in Leetchi before Kima, a now internationally recognized seed VC, was even formally put together.
After a few false steps towards international expansion of its consumer app, Leetchi repositioned its growth strategy around providing access to MangoPay, its payments platforms focused on managing crowdsources funds, to other sharing economy startups. Arriving at the same time as Braintree, Stripe, Paymill, and other payments platforms, MangoPay quickly won over its French community, but failed to gain the momentum needed to boost it beyond it local success.
Still, year after year, Leetchi has been hailed by Wired as being among the top French startups, and, in recent years, has begun championing the rise of the FinTech ecosystem in France – next-generation fintech startups Lydia, SlimPay, Paymium & others have seen themselves legitimized by the ever-presence of Leetchi’s CEO & the face of the company, Celine Lazorthes.
The exit is by no means an enormous success for the FinTech ecosystem. Leetchi already had a relationship with its acquirer, a French financial services player, which looks less like a growth step & more like an inability to secure funds from venture capitalists to continue growing. Earlier this month, SlimPay announced a single round of fundraising that outsizes the amount of money injected by Leetchi’s acquirer into the startup; and yet, Leetchi’s exit marks the end of a generation of startups, which existed before media like ours were talking about ‘FinTech’ and FrenchTech, before the government supported startup growth, ,before being a founder looked more like being a rockstar than being the owner of a young, unprofitable, risky business.