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MBA's FinTech Start-Up Raises $58M From Silicon Valley Backer

Transferwise, the fast-growing financial technology start-up founded by an INSEAD MBA, has received funding of $58 million from venture group Andreessen Horowitz.

Tue Jan 27 2015

Transferwise, the money transfer start-up founded by an MBA graduate of INSEAD, a top international business school, has received $58 million in investment from Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital group.

The huge funding round, on top of the $33 million raised since its launch in 2011, values Transferwise at close to $1 billion.

The fledging financial technology company signifies a change in attitude at elite business schools, away from corporate careers and to entrepreneurial ventures.

A recent survey of 7,800 MBA graduates found 22% of respondents had launched a start-up while studying at business school or shortly after completing their programs.                

The news also marks a promising shift in the global technology sector, as the biggest US investors begin to back promising start-ups in Europe’s nascent tech industry.

European funding rounds involving US investment groups was approximately $3.5 billion in 2014, up from about $800 million in 2010, according to Go4Venture Advisers, a boutique investment bank.

TransferWise was founded by Taavet Hinrikus, chief executive who graduated from INSEAD in 2010, and Kristo Kaarmann, a former Deloitte consultant.

It lets people transfer money to one another internationally, and serves 292 currency routes, with customers in 50 countries.

The recent investment includes backing from existing TransferWise investors Sir Richard Branson, Index Ventures, IA Ventures and Seedcamp.

TransferWise said in November last year that its business was growing 20% to 30% a month.

“We’re building a transparent, fair and truly global world of finance,” said Taavet and Kristo in a blog post announcing the investment.

The company said it would use the funds to expand into the US, Australia and Germany.

Ben Horowitz, a founding partner of Andreessen Horowitz and prominent advocate of financial innovation, led the group’s investment in TransferWise, and joins its board.

He said in a statement that “we see massive opportunity for new financial institutions like TransferWise” as a new way of exchanging foreign currency.

TransferWise joins the ranks of start-ups founded by graduates of business schools to achieve promising growth and huge investment.

The success of graduate start-ups is becoming a measure on which business schools are judged.

The average start-up survival rate of MBA graduates’ companies is 84%, according to data compiled for the FT’s 2015 MBA rankings – significantly higher than world averages.

Nutmeg, a London-based online wealth manager founded by a Stanford GSB MBA graduate, has raised at least $50 million in funding from backers including Balderton Capital, and asset manager Schroders.

GrubHub, an online takeaway delivery service which is a product of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, raised $50 million in a series E funding round before merging with rival website Seamless.

Dafiti, an e-commerce group that came out of Harvard Business School, has raised $249 million in funding, including a $45 million investment by Morgan Stanley in 2012.