ICYMI: What’s New in SMB SaaS

ICYMI (in case you missed it) What’s New in SMB SaaS” is a periodic series on LSA Insider that curates and offers brief commentary on recent events related to the emerging SMB SaaS ecosystem that you may have overlooked. 

Stripe Has a Capital Idea

The payments platform Stripe has launched Stripe Capital and will now offer small businesses instant loan offers on its platform. This move was all but inevitable given how aggressively Stripe’s bigger rival, Square has long-since expanded its services into small business lending via Square Capital.

Tech Crunch notes that Stripe’s move was also signaled by its effort a year ago to provide cash advances to small businesses on its platform. Companies competing in the payments space are in a natural position to offer credit services to SMBs, and by sitting on top of a small businesses revenue steam, they are in a unique position to establish credit-worthiness. Having a lending capability also seems to be table stakes among the top-tier cloud point of sale/fintech companies.

Zapier Taps Google Docs Co-creator to Lead Product

Zapier has named Jonathan Rochelle as its new Chief Product Officer, tapping into the guy who helped Google build some of its most successful productivity tools, including Google Sheets, Docs, Drive, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Apps Script, Fonts, Sites, Classroom, and Jamboard, to name a few. Rochelle actually landed at Google via the 2005 acquisition of his startup 2WebTechnologies.

Hiring one of the architects of cloud productivity tools makes a ton of sense for Zapier, which is built on the promise of delivering efficiency to SMBs by proving an integration layer for businesses using multiple apps. To use its description, Zapier “connects over 1,500 apps to help people be more productive at work, saving customers up to 20 hours per week.”

Xero Rolls Out New Tools at Xerocon

SaaS accounting giant Xero announced some new tech at its annual Xerocon confab this week in Australia. The new features include new machine learning tools to extract and analyze information out of documents. Xero is also piloting a tool to enable SMBs to do short term cash flow forecasts, and a single sign-on feature to allow businesses to access the business app more quickly.

One new service that we find particularly notable is a location targeting tools for Xero to help its accounting and bookkeeping partners find new customers. Small accounting firms and individual bookkeepers are Xero’s bread and butter. So doing more to help these operators be successful will build loyalty and help keep them out of the hands of rivals.

Speaking of rivals, Xero has also recently invested in its North American leadership team as part of the New Zealand-based company’s effort to compete more effectively on archnemesis Intuit’s home turf.

Upflow’s New Raise Boosts Its Mission to Streamline Invoicing

Paris-based startup Upflow has raised $2.7 million to further its mission to replace the spreadsheet as the main financial management tool for SMBs. Specifically, Upflow helps small businesses track and manage outstanding invoices in order to get paid faster. The tools also collect data that over time allows a business to drive valuable customer insights from payment patterns. The funding round comes from a combination of Kima Ventures, eFounders, and individual investors.

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