Entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often struggle to deal with several siloed functions, such as company secretary, bookkeeping, banking, tax, payroll, employment services, insurance and more.
French entrepreneurs Julien Labruyere and Adrien Barthel founded Sleek in 2017 to help entrepreneurs incorporate and operate businesses in Singapore and Hong Kong. The startup built a back-end operating system platform that handles everything from incorporation, government, accounting, taxes and visas to regulatory compliance.
Its mission is to be the go-to platform for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to focus on building their businesses, as Sleek takes away all the back-office hassle, Barthel said.
Sleek has announced today it has secured a $14 million Series A round led by White Star Capital and Jungle Ventures. It brings Sleek’s total raised to $24 million.
The new capital will be used to bolster technology and product development, ramp up its headcount, expand its presence in existing markets and enter new markets, including Australia and the U.K.
As it enters the U.K. market, Sleek has also announced the acquisition of Ltd Companies, the U.K.-based incorporation management company that has incorporated more than 450,000 companies since its foundation in 2005. Sleek will add its stack to the existing Ltd Companies offering to build an operating system for U.K.-based SMEs.
Since its inception, Sleek has expanded offices beyond Singapore to Hong Kong, Australia, the U.K. and the Philippines.
The startup doubled its client portfolio size during the pandemic; the interesting point is Sleek clients appear to be less impacted by the overall economic turmoil, Barthel told TechCrunch. It generated $10 million annual recurring revenue earlier this year, Barthel noted.
Sleek, which manages a portfolio of more than 5,000 companies, handled over 1.4 million bookkeeping transactions and posted approximately $700 million of revenue in 2020.
Sleek recently launched Sleek Business Account that simplified opening bank accounts for SMEs. It enables entrepreneurs and small business owners to open a deposit account in just a day through the Sleek app and start transacting, getting rid of the onerous paperwork requirements before opening an account. Additionally, users can view the account details on the Sleek dashboard along with the other company metrics to streamline bank reconciliation for accounting and bookkeeping purposes. The company is also planning to release products addressing remittances and card issuance.
“With the launch of Sleek Business Account, we have added a major brick in our product vision of building the operating system (OS) for entrepreneurs,” Barthel said.
Sleek also launched CFO-services at a pilot level that enables experienced CFOs access to a client’s accounting data via a business intelligence tool to provide recommendations and analysis to clients (for budgeting, strategy and fundraising).
"In a future where technology enables super efficiency for humans, they spend more time advising clients than doing manual work. Today our corporate secretaries advise 4-5 times more clients than a traditional player, and we are aiming to achieve 100% automation of that function so they can focus solely on providing advice to clients," Barthel told TechCrunch.
“We believe we can be an excellent partner to Sleek and leverage our global footprint to help address a fundamental problem for all SMEs and supercharge their growth into Europe and Australia,” said Eric Martineau-Fortin, founder and managing partner at White Star Capital.
“Sleek addresses the deeply underserved challenge of back-office management for entrepreneurs and SMEs globally. Their growth across geographies and rapid expansion is testament to the accelerated adoption of the platform the value it brings to the ecosystem,” said David Gowdey, managing partner of Jungle Ventures.