Native Teams, a North Macedonia-founded financial platform for freelance payments, has closed a 2-million-euro seed round led by Bulgarian venture capital fund Eleven Ventures, which entered with 1 million euro. Other participants in the funding round were Croatia-based fund Fil Rouge Capital, UK-based Haatch Ventures and US-based Quake Capital. The investment will allow for further expansion of the business, whose services are already present in over 30 countries.
"We decided to invest in Native Teams because the company is developing extremely rapidly at the intersection of two key verticals for us, namely the Fintech sector and the Future of Work industry," says Daniel Tomov, managing partner at Eleven Ventures. "We were also attracted by the team itself, as it has previous entrepreneurial experience and works very well together," adds Tomov.
Other key sectors Eleven seeks to invest in are healthcare and the food industry. "We are looking for technological and innovative solutions in these sectors, and we usually prefer to be the first or among the first institutional investors in startups in pre-seed or seed phase of development," the fund explains.
From Skopje to global expansionFounded in 2020 in Skopje by Aleksandra Mitrevska and Jack Thorogood, Native Teams is a financial platform for job payments to freelancers and remote workers. It provides users country-specific invoicing tools, payment request options, a multi-currency wallet for international payments and a Visa card. The platform can be used by freelancers and employers who hire remote workers from other countries. Native Teams collaborates with local law firms in each country it offers its services in to ensure that it complies with local regulations.
Native Teams currently offers its services in 30 countries, including Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Nigeria. It has a team of 70 people spread across the company's countries of presence - 15 employees in Macedonia, 12 in Serbia, and a separate R&D team of 15 based in Yerevan, Armenia. Recently, the company registered a subsidiary in Bulgaria. It is also due to begin offering its services in Nigeria and Peru in the near future.
Q: How do you cater to differing freelance payment laws in the countries you operate in?
A: We work with local law firms in every country where we offer the service to ensure that we're compliant with local laws and regulations. That said, a big part of our success so far has come from the fact that we have team members 'on the ground' in our focus countries. We currently have team members in 24 of our 30+ supported countries, from Portugal to Azerbaijan, and from the UK to Nigeria, and we keep adding to this headcount. This approach is really important to us as it lets us really understand the needs of our users in practice, not just in theory.
Q: Where is Native Teams most popular, and why do you think that is?
A: Currently our service is most popular in North Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia, with Turkey growing very fast too. I put this down to the fact that we've been in those countries longest. Unexpectedly - we initially thought we'd pick up early users, then it'd be a steady trickle - the longer we're in a country the faster we grow. Word of mouth starts to happen, and people trust us more as we have been around for some time.
Q: Why did you pick Nigeria as your first location beyond Europe?
A: We've seen that for some US and UK tech firms, Nigeria is an increasingly popular location for their remote workers to come from. It has a large population and a large number are very tech savvy. Of specific importance to Native Teams though, we wanted to find a location where we could start to learn about very different regulatory regimes than we typically see in Europe. For sure, every single country is a little bit different, but Nigeria is very different than what we have seen before.
Our goal is to roll out globally once we close our Series A (most likely within the next 4-6 months) and therefore it is important for us to understand some different environments before we really want to push the 'go' button on growth across other continents. In this vein we will be launching in Peru in the next month.