APPROVE Receives $3MM in Series A Funding, Plans to Triple Workforce

APPROVE will bring as many as 50 new technology jobs to Wilmington, NC, in the coming months as the company embarks on an expansion plan fueled by a $3 million Series A funding round recently completed with support from Cofounders Capital, Live Oak Ventures and VentureSouth. Live Oak Ventures, the investment arm of Live Oak Bancshares, and VentureSouth have both made previous investments in the company.

APPROVE has experienced growth in adoption of its fintech embedded finance platform for equipment sellers since its launch in early 2022.

“We are very excited about our new partnership with Cofounders Capital and the expanded investment from Live Oak and VentureSouth,” Robert Preville, CEO of APPROVE, said. “Investments from reputable firms such as these bring experience, talent and big ideas to Wilmington, NC, and challenge the expectation that innovation can only be fostered in larger cities or tech centers.”

APPROVE is currently acquiring approximately 40 equipment distributors as new customers each month. Originations on the APPROVE platform grew 97% year over year in Q1/23, while originations in the quarter were 30% higher than Q4/22.

“VentureSouth members have enjoyed watching APPROVE’s consistent growth since we first invested in the company, and we are excited to have the chance to continue supporting the company in this next phase of expansion,” Paul Clark, a partner at VentureSouth, said.

APPROVE’s growth has been driven by a team of 20 employees working out of offices in the Cotton Exchange complex in Wilmington, NC. With this most recent funding round complete, APPROVE plans to more than double its Wilmington, NC-based workforce, bringing on 40 to 50 new employees. The company will hire account executives, finance operations coordinators, a digital marketing manager and multiple developers. APPROVE is also actively seeking office space to expand its Wilmington, NC, headquarters.

“We have known Robert and the team at APPROVE for a number of years and have been impressed, not just by the business they have built but also the tremendous team and culture,” Tobi Walter, a partner with Cofounders Capital, said. “We are incredibly excited to make our second Wilmington-based investment and to work with the team on a desperately needed solution in the B2B equipment finance market.”

Preville said the new capital will enable the company to pursue an aggressive customer acquisition and product innovation strategy that will bring APPROVE’s software to more equipment sellers in foodservice, construction, manufacturing and other industries.

The planned new hires will triple the size of APPROVE’s sales team, provide new resources for marketing and expand the development team, a move the company expects will enable faster implementation of the product features it plans to introduce as it pursues a long-term vision of making the process of financing equipment “as easy as using a credit card,” according to Preville.

“The amount of innovation that has already taken place at our company on limited resources is incredibly impressive,” Preville said. “We now have the resources to attract and invest in local talent who can accelerate that innovation and deliver on a war chest of new ideas.”

Live Oak’s support of APPROVE builds on its track record of backing Wilmington, NC, startups, including nCino and Apiture.

“When we made our first investment in KWIPPED in 2019, we believed the company had immense potential to provide solutions at scale, and here we are a few years later with an exciting expansion as the APPROVE platform has grown out of KWIPPED’s model,” Stephanie Mann, chief strategy officer at Live Oak, said. “We see significant value in investing in companies that support small business growth, and as a fellow Wilmington business, are delighted to invest in next-generation platforms and exceptional leadership teams that contribute to our local fintech ecosystem.”

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