While Google dominates the world when it comes to search, portals for those looking for products and services in specific niches continue to have a place in our online world. In one of the latest developments, Smava, a German startup that has built a marketplace/portal for people to search for and take out loans, has raised $65 million to grow its business across Europe.
The funding comes from Vitruvian, a UK-based private equity firm that had also funded Skyscanner (a vertical search giant in the travel industry, now owned by Ctrip) and last June announced the close of a new, €2.4 billion fund, with participation also from previous backer Runa Capital and others. To date, Smava has raised around $135 million, and while the startup is not disclosing a valuation, according to sources, it is around $300 million with this round. Smava has been profitable for the last year.
Smava started out originally in 2007 as a peer-to-peer loan platform, where those wanting to borrow money could tap those willing to loan it. Smava would provide the big data analytics to assess both sides’ credit-worthiness, bypassing banks and their high fees, long wait times and more conservative credit scoring.
Ironically, the startup later expanded to include banks in the mix of loans it offered, as it started to realise it would be a much larger and ultimately cheaper source of funding than the P2P business could ever be, since the majority of its customers could be termed “prime” borrowers — with high credit scores — so would be eligible for cheaper bank loans.
“Banks and traditional lenders were much cheaper than…