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August 17, 2022
10 min read

Why we started Highbeam

Introducing Highbeam: banking designed for ecommerce

We started Highbeam to give brand founders and independent sellers the financial tools and support to succeed — to grow their business on their own terms — sustainably, profitably, and for the long-term.

Millions of people every year take the leap and start an ecommerce business

These founders pour their passion and energy into creating brands and products that represent their authentic selves. Technology can act as a powerful enabler, helping lower the barriers to entry and giving opportunities to entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. We’ve been fortunate to have had a front row seat to the impact this has made. Anyone can set up a Shopify store and be selling in minutes — it doesn’t matter where you are or whom you know. Independent brands and sellers are the future of commerce — and as they approach $1T of sales volume in the next few years we would argue they are already the present as well.

Starting a business and running a profitable business are very different things

Ask any of these founders what one word comes to mind when they think of managing their brand’s finances. We’ve talked to hundreds of business owners and have heard ‘confusing’, ‘scary’ and ‘annoying’ - not one used the word ‘easy’. For ecommerce brands that rely on working capital and efficient cash operations, this can be the difference between surviving a bad quarter and running out of cash. Yet founders are forced to rely on a patchwork of guesswork, spreadsheets, and point solutions that only gets worse as the business grows.

Legacy banks have failed these ecommerce founders

Even as the primary financial partner for these businesses most legacy banks don’t understand, lend to, or care about helping these businesses. Founders are forced to rely on (sometimes predatory) cash advances that are hard to compare or understand with effective interest rates of up to 40%. Many will use separate point solutions for invoicing, vendor payments, supplier financing, marketing spend and credit. 7 finance “partners” for a brand before it even hits $1M in revenue!

Technology has made it easier to start a brand, but not to help it scale sustainably

Managing cash and working capital effectively is the number one success factor for these businesses to scale, yet it’s almost impossible to get an accurate picture of how they are performing in real-time. The tools they use to move money in and out are not designed for their business, provide no automation and basically haven’t evolved in twenty years.

Our mission is to power brand founders with the finance foundation to grow their business with control and confidence. We want to raise the bar to provide the tools, insights and capital that may be the difference between sustainable profits and running out of runway.

This is how we propose to do it:

  • Banking and credit services designed for scaling ecommerce brands — integrated ecommerce specific features (like sales tax and supplier payments) and powered by credit products that are transparent and fair.
  • Single view of finances, in real-time — a comprehensive and consolidated cross-platform view of cash, revenue, and spend to drive better and faster insights and decisions.
  • Relationships built for the long term — a real banking partner that actually understands your business and cares about your success.

Today we’re excited to announce $7M in seed funding led by FirstMark and Mayfield to accelerate our product development. We’re very grateful to have investors with great domain expertise, track records and experience — but more so to have partners who have worked with us since inception to brainstorm, refine and stay focused on the long term value. As part of this round we are also thankful for the support of a number of experienced ecommerce founders and fintech operators who share our vision.

This vision of ecommerce business banking is deeply personal. For most of our customers business and personal are one and the same. Being able to support their growth is the most rewarding aspect of what we do. One unexpected learning as we’ve scaled Highbeam was how much our customers loved learning about each other's journeys as much as we did — so we look forward to sharing many of those stories here — (as an example here is Sabah Shoes and its founder Mickey Ashmore who we were proud to have as one of our first customers) We made an early decision to only take on new customers when we were confident we could provide a step change banking experience in product, insights, and dedicated attention. Currently, we support Shopify and Amazon-based brand founders — we have a waitlist but are onboarding brands every day.

We couldn’t be more excited to help brands grow profitably and on their own terms — if what we are building sounds interesting we would love to hear from you — drop us a line at hello@highbeam.co!

Banking that helps brands
make smarter decisions

Automate your cash flow with real-time insights, refreshingly transparent credit, and high yield deposit accounts.