Investments in fintech are a common occurrence, but it’s not often we learn of a relatively unknown company raising a significant round. Until now, Uplift has been keeping a low profile in order to capitalize in what they feel is a great lending niche.
The company partners with top airlines and travel companies like Kayak and Funjet to provide financing to travelers. The founder and CEO, Brian Barth is no stranger to the travel industry having previously sold a startup to Kayak for $200 million. Now two years into business the company hopes to originate $1 billion in loans in 2019.
With the $123 million Series C round Uplift plans to bring on new partners and expand into new services. The company remains focused on their partnership-based approach instead of launching their own standalone marketplace. According to TechCrunch, the round puts the company at a $195 million pre-money valuation. The round was led by Madrone Capital Partners and also included Draper Nexus, Ridge Ventures, Highgate Ventures, Barton Asset Management and PAR Capital.
What’s interesting is the company is in essence a point of sale lender which I imagine has leaned heavily on previous industry contacts in order to scale a lending business incredibly fast. The company is not alone in serving this segment though as Affirm also has a travel vertical offering financing for airfare and hotel rooms. Affirm has similar relationships like the one with travel giant Expedia.com.
It is impressive that in 2019 an online lending platform operating in a niche, albeit a large one, can raise $123 million in equity capital. Clearly, Uplift is a company to watch going forward.