British payments start-up Sequence receives Silicon Valley backing

A British financial technology business run by one of the industry’s few female chief executives has raised $19 million in its first funding round.

Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm known for its early bets on the likes of Airbnb, Facebook and Slack, has joined other investors in backing Sequence, a business-to-business payments software company founded last year.

Sequence is led by Riya Grover, 34, who sold her last software business, called Feedr, to Compass, the global catering group, in 2020. She teamed up with Eamon Jubbawy, 31, who previously co-founded Onfido, an identity verifier spun out of Oxford University, after the pair saw how much it cost companies selling to other businesses to build their own billing systems.

The start-up, which aims to simplify pricing and invoicing, is looking to replicate the impact that disruptive consumer payments specialists such as PayPal and Stripe have had.

It also expects companies selling their software as a service to other businesses to move from fixed subscription models to more flexible usage-based billing. Sequence estimates the total size of the global market for business payments at $100 trillion.

Grover said: “Finance teams conduct their entire jobs in disparate systems while collaborating over email or Slack. Invoicing and payments data is locked in a spreadsheet and never given the opportunity to be used strategically.”

The company, which emerges from “stealth mode” today but already employs 30 people, is working with fast-growing British companies such as Omnipresent, the global payroll start-up that raised $120 million in March, and Deliveroo, which had sales above £1 billion in the first half of 2022.

Seema Amble, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said the “pain point” identified by Grover and Jubbawy was common and they were pursuing a “compelling opportunity”.

Grover is one of only a handful of women who lead financial technology companies, with others including Anne Boden at Starling Bank and Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia of Snoop, a money management app. About a quarter of high-growth companies in the UK have at least one female founder, but in 2021 only 15p in every £1 raised from investors went to these companies, according to Beauhurst, the research firm.

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British payments start-up Sequence receives Silicon Valley backing