While most startups are racing to raise as much venture capital as possible, as quickly as possible , one Salt Lake City startup has opted for a slower, steadier, more tortoise-like approach.
Galileo, a payments infrastructure software startup, was bootstrapped by founder and CEO Clay Wilkes since its founding 19 years ago. But on Thursday, the nearly two-decade old startup announced its first round of outside funding ever, with a $77 million investment led by Accel — a whopping amount for a Series A round like this.
"We've long thought that Galileo was the best kept secret in fintech," Accel partner John Locke told Business Insider. As part of the round, Locke will also join Galileo's board of directors.
Venture investors are flocking to back fintech startups, as other areas of consumer technology see pull-back amid concerns of economic uncertainty. Investors have been quick to catch on to mobile banking, in particular, as demand has grown as a new wave of mobile-first Gen Z'ers start opening their first bank accounts and getting credit cards.
"Right now is a good time in terms of valuations overall in the industry," Wilkes, the CEO, said of the state of fintech.
Although it doesn't have billboard-worthy name recognition, Galileo provides the software to keep these new "neobanks" up and running. It currently works with investing app Robinhood and mobile banking apps Chime and VARO in the United States. Galileo has also partnered with banking startups Monzo, Revolut, and Transferwise in the UK.
"We saw an opportunity to revolutionize banking many years ago," Wilkes told Business Insider. "What we were doing before was providing a platform that wasn't traditional credit or debit but other innovative forms of payments because the financial institutions were not prepared to offer those with existing infrastructures. That's been a bet that's paid off."
Wilkes said Galileo started working on the technology to provide this kind of payments infrastructure 15 years ago, before many of his customers existed. But that longevity has given Galileo a tool in its arsenal that very few other fintech startups can count on — profitability.
"As a bootstrapped business, being profitable is a notable difference from many, many other fintech startups," Wilkes said. "Being profitable gives us a lot of flexibility in the choices we make and the partners we choose."
With the new influx of outside funds, Wilkes said Galileo is open to courting new partners and new markets. Of particular interest are startups serving emerging markets like Latin America, a quickly growing market for US-based investors and startups alike .