Bilt Rewards banks $60M growth on a $350M valuation to advance credit card benefits for renters

Bilt Rewards, a loyalty program for property renters to earn points on rent with no fees and build a path toward homeownership, announced Tuesday a round of $60 million in growth funding that values the company at $350 million.

The investment comes from Wells Fargo and Mastercard and a group of the nation’s largest real estate owners, including The Blackstone Group, AvalonBay Communities, Douglas Elliman, Equity Residential, GID-Windsor Communities, LENx, The Moinian Group, Morgan Properties, Starwood Capital Group and Related.

Bilt launched back in June out of Kairos, the startup studio led by Ankur Jain, focused on enabling over 109 million renters in the U.S. to earn points from paying their rent every month — typically someone’s largest monthly expense. Since then, the program was rolled out across over 2 million rental units, Jain told TechCrunch.

“We are the first and only alliance of the major property owners to create this kind of program and already have 15 of the top 20 owners involved,” he added. “We are also the only co-branded card to offer points on rent.”

Greg Bates, GID president and CEO, said his company has 130 assets spread across the top 20 markets and manages 40,000 apartment units. He learned about Bilt from a colleague who attended a proptech conference where Jain demoed the Bilt card.

For as long as Bates has been in the real estate industry, about 20 years or so, renters have wanted to pay rent with a credit card for convenience and to earn loyalty points. However, that was cost-prohibitive in terms of the surcharges needed to be added to the rental rate — until Bilt, he said. The card “is incredibly easy to use” and integrates into property owners’ online payment systems.

“Bilt has transformed the value proposition for residents that want to use a credit card and for landlords that want to accept them,” Bates added. “There will always be barriers to entry for products like this, but Bilt spent time with Mastercard and Wells Fargo to develop this unique product which will be a competition differentiator for a few years to come.”

In addition to the new funding, Bilt is also announcing new benefits for its loyalty members and upgraded offerings for the Bilt Mastercard, including the ability to earn up to 50,000 points on rent per year and unlimited points using the credit card.

For members, Bilt will pay interest in the form of points for a member’s account each month based on their average daily points balance over the 30-day period, and offer a concierge service for members choosing to redeem their Bilt points toward a home down payment. In addition, members can earn bonus points on top of points used by landlords on new leases and renewals.

Bilt worked with regulators, as well as Fannie Mae and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to gain approval for using rewards points toward a mortgage. Members can also report their rent payments to the credit bureaus at no cost, which can help build credit history for millions of young renters.

Meanwhile, the company’s new “0-1-2-3” point earning structure for Bilt Mastercard holders provides no annual fee, 1x points on rent payments, 2x points on travel, 3x points on dining and 1x points on all other purchases.

This is the company’s first major external financing round and will be used to expand its real estate and loyalty partner network, grow its distribution channels and make its platform credit card more widely available to the public. Jain estimates Bilt is seeing 20% enrollment across residents.

As more renters move to homeownership over time, Bilt has plans to leverage this potential larger business to eventually become a mortgage provider for them.

“Renting is something people do for a while, and the core business has a massive scale opportunity, especially in the demographic under 35 years old, who tend to be up-and-coming professionals,” Jain added. “This is a unique target market, and Bilt will grow with them as they build their path to homeownership.”

 


By Christine Hall

Ledgy is an equity management tool for European startups

Every startup founder faces the same issue — how do you manage your cap table and equity plans in a transparent and lightweight manner? If you’re based in the U.S., chances are you’re using an equity management solution like Carta. But if you’re not based in the U.S., you don’t have a ton of options.

Ledgy wants to become the ownership management tool for the rest of the world. Based in Switzerland, several well-known European startups are already using Ledgy, such as Wefox, Kry, Bitpanda, Gorillas and Trade Republic.

The company recently closed a $10 million Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital. Other investors in the round include Xavier Niel, Harry Stebbings, Visionaries Club, UiPath's Daniel Dines and Front's Mathilde Collin. Some of Ledgy’s existing investors also invested once again, such as Myke Näf, Paul Sevinç, btov Partners, Creathor Ventures and VI Partners.

A few years ago, when Ledgy co-founder and CEO Yoko Spirig talked with an entrepreneur, the founder showed her how he managed ownership. He opened an Excel spreadsheet and scrolled, scrolled, scrolled… “Each line represented a share. You can imagine how error-prone it is,” she told me.

While the implementation was odd, most companies in Europe are still using Excel spreadsheets to manage ownership. And Ledgy wants to convince those companies that switching to a software solution that has been specifically designed to solve this issue could be beneficial.

“The key has really been to focus on the software infrastructure. What we do is that we have implemented automation workflows that are adaptable depending on countries,” Spirig said. “We’re not focusing on one regulation and we’re really offering the infrastructure layer,” she added.

That’s why Ledgy already supports 32 countries. It has tweaked its product even more specifically for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. There will be more country-specific releases in the near future for startups based in the U.K. and France. 1,500 companies are using Ledgy right now.

When you switch to Ledgy, there are three main advantages. First, like other software-as-a-service products, Ledgy acts as a single source of truth for all stakeholders — the HR team, the finance team, investors, lawyers and employees.

The second selling point is that you can automate some of the most tedious tasks. For instance, Ledgy can automatically generate documents based on templates and different variables. Signed documents are stored on Ledgy. You can export data every quarter or every year for compliance reasons.

Third, it fosters transparency across the company. Employees can check the value of their options. They can see how much their options could be worth if the leadership team is in the process of raising a new round of funding.

With today’s funding round, Ledgy plans to expand into new markets. The company also plans to roll out support for public companies so that some of its existing customers can go public and keep using Ledgy.


By Romain Dillet