Bill.com and KeyBank introduce Key CashFlowsm, a Streamlined Payments Solution for Small and Midsize Businesses

Business Wire | August 27, 2020

Bill.com (NYSE:BILL), a leading provider of cloud-based software that simplifies, digitizes and automates complex back-office financial operations for small and midsize businesses (SMBs,) and KeyBank (NYSE: KEY) introduce Key CashFlowsm, an online banking solution that streamlines payments for small businesses (SMBs) and commercial customers. Key CashFlowsm is a scalable, centralized platform that services the bank’s broad client segments, from SMBs to commercial, enabling customers to grow and scale their use of the platform during their business journey. Business customers will benefit from increased visibility and control of their cash flow, the ability to send and receive electronic payments, eliminate paper, manage approvals digitally, and seamlessly integrate with accounting software. The platform can be accessed through the KeyBank Business Online and KeyNavigator portals in addition to being integrated into KeyBank’s Small Business Financial Wellness.

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More small-business owners are focusing their marketing efforts on social media than in years past. According to a recent survey from Vertical Response, a small-business marketing company, 66 percent of small businesses are spending more time on social media compared to last year.


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FINANCE

Raistone Teams Up with Mastercard to Accelerate Working Capital Payments for Small- and-Medium-Sized Businesses

Raistone | April 06, 2022

Raistone today announced a collaboration with Mastercard set to simplify business-to-business (B2B) finance payments and speed up access to working capital for small- and-medium-sized businesses ("SMBs"). Using Mastercard's virtual card technology, Raistone will tap into secure payment innovation to streamline finance approval processes that can exclude SMBs from accessing essential funds needed to sustain and scale their business. This innovative use of virtual cards promotes diversity and inclusion by extending convenient financial tools to the companies that need them most. The partnership enables automated financing to suppliers via virtual cards without requiring the involvement of their customers. In addition, women- and minority-owned business enterprises can join with no enrollment fees through the end of 2022. "Together with Mastercard, Raistone is making it easier than ever for businesses to get paid on invoices that would otherwise take months for reimbursement. By using existing credit card rails and infrastructure, Raistone is able to reach and help businesses of all sizes, saving them both time and money so they can get back to doing what they do best. We're excited to support small- and medium-sized businesses, particularly at a time when many companies are on the road to recovery or experiencing high growth." Dave Skirzenski, CEO of Raistone Raistone's new virtual card program is being deployed directly to SMBs as well as integrated into customer-facing software provided by Raistone's large enterprise partners. A key advantage to SMBs is rapid sign-up through their existing platforms, enabling businesses to drastically reduce their operational burden and get paid in a matter of days. Commenting on the collaboration, Claire Thompson, EVP Global Trade, Mastercard Enterprise Partnerships said, "We have a responsibility to advance a more equitable and sustainable future for organizations of all sizes, particularly when liquidity is vital during volatile times. Integrating Mastercard's virtual card technology within Raistone's customer facing software, allows us to significantly improve cashflow through quicker payments, supporting daily operations and fueling growth. With an embedded finance experience, we are accelerating easier access to secure working capital, ensuring that businesses have the means to manage and grow their business". About Raistone Raistone was born with the vision of equalizing access to working capital and meeting the demand for working capital on a global scale. A world-leading fintech collaboratively owned by a full-service broker dealer, $30 billion family office, a $900 billion wealth manager, and an international bank, Raistone enables the financing of billions of dollars in transactions every year. Its best-in-class technology coupled with unparalleled access to institutional capital extends financing to companies of all sizes, fully integrated with the same software platforms they already use. Raistone works to ensure that all businesses have access to their money, on their terms.

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IMPACT

H&R Block Continues Partnership with Nextdoor® to Connect Neighbors and Improve Communities Across the Country

H&R Block | February 24, 2022

H&R Block announces its third consecutive year of partnership with Nextdoor to find and execute 10 community improvement projects through Block's Make Every Block Better community impact platform. Now through March 31, people can nominate their neighborhood for a project that helps improve the places and spaces where neighborhoods convene. The call for community improvement projects supports neighborhoods and involves small businesses, ultimately positively impacting millions of Americans. The companies will narrow the submissions and bring 10 winning projects to life. Nominations are open for the following categories: neighborhood beautification, neighborhood cleanup, park renewal, community garden and more. In the last two years, this partnership between H&R Block and Nextdoor has received nearly 4,000 submissions narrowed down to 20 projects across the country. The chosen neighborhoods came together to build gardens, community spaces, murals, revitalizations and even a butterfly sanctuary. One example includes a playground project in New Jersey’s West Milford neighborhood that continues to bring life to the community. “The local kids and parents are spending more time together and helping to build better relationships with neighbors at the playground, but it has also increased our community pride.” Elisabeth Kenney, a resident of West Milford, N.J. This partnership is just one way H&R Block is working to Make Every Block Better through its community impact platform, which launched in 2019. To date, the company has supported more than 258 communities and 304,000 small businesses, with H&R Block associates volunteering more than 205,000 hours. About H&R Block H&R Block, Inc. provides help and inspires confidence in its clients and communities everywhere through global tax preparation services, financial products, and small-business solutions. The company blends digital innovation with human expertise and care as it helps people get the best outcome at tax time and also be better with money using its mobile banking app, Spruce. Through Block Advisors and Wave, the company helps small-business owners thrive with innovative products like Wave Money, a small-business banking and bookkeeping solution, and the only business bank account to manage bookkeeping automatically. About Nextdoor Nextdoor is where you connect to the neighborhoods that matter to you so you can belong. Kindness is core to our purpose: to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Neighbors around the world turn to Nextdoor daily to receive trusted information, give and get help, get things done, and build real-world connections with those nearby neighbors, businesses, and public services.

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BUSINESS STRATEGY

Vejii Announces Definitive Purchase Agreement to Acquire VEDGEco USA Inc., a leading online B2B wholesale platform for plant-based products

Vejii Holdings Inc. | December 24, 2021

Vejii Holdings Ltd. ("Vejii" or the "Company"), a North American online marketplace for plant-based and sustainable products, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a share purchase agreement (the "Purchase Agreement") to acquire VEDGEco USA Inc. ("VEDGEco"), a leading online business-to-business ("B2B") wholesale platform for plant-based products. "VEDGEco launched as one of the first online wholesale platforms dedicated to providing restaurants and independent grocers with a large selection of high-quality plant-based options. This meant that small business owners could at last gain access to a large selection of plant-based products and ingredients without the requirements that typical larger national distributors have in place, such as large minimum order sizes." Kory Zelickson, CEO of Vejii Pursuant to the terms of the Purchase Agreement, the Company will acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares (the "Purchased Shares") of VEDGEco (the "Transaction") from the shareholders of VEDGEco (the "Vendors"). The total purchase price for the Purchased Shares will be US$6,250,000, payable as follows: (a) on the date of the closing of the Transaction (the "Closing"), the Company will issue such number of common shares of the Company (each, a "Common Share") with a deemed value of $3,500,000 (the "Consideration Shares") to the Vendors, as determined based on a price per Consideration Share of the greater of (i) C$0.35 per Consideration Share and (ii) the closing price of the Common Shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange on the date immediately preceding the announcement by the Company of the Transaction, converted into United States dollars at the Bank of Canada exchange rate on such date; and (b) earn-out payments up to a maximum of US$2,750,000, payable in Common Shares (the "Earn-Out Shares"), priced in the context of the market, to be issued to the Vendors upon VEDGEco meeting certain milestones as more particularly set out in the Purchase Agreement. The Consideration Shares and the Earn-Out Shares issued under the Purchase Agreement are subject to a statutory hold period of four months and one day, restrictions on transfer under applicable United States ("U.S.") securities laws and a contractual lock-up as set out in the Purchase Agreement (the "Voluntary Lock Up"). Subject to compliance with applicable securities laws, 12.5% of the Consideration Shares and the Earn-Out Shares will be released from the Voluntary Lock Up on a quarterly basis for a period of 24 months from the date of issuance. VEDGEco's key personnel are expected to continue to run the operations of VEDGEco following closing of the Transaction. The Transaction is expected to close on or around December 31, 2021. Closing of the Transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. The Transaction will significantly augment Vejii's offering of plant-based brands, which have, to date, through ShopVejii.com and VeganEssentials.com, leveraged Vejii's platform for sales, marketing and order fulfillment and distribution across the U.S. and Canada via Vejii Fulfillment Services. "We heard consistently from the brands that we serve that they were seeking to make the leap from e-commerce, to grocery and foodservice distribution. This could mean shipping samples, managing broker relationships, or gaining access to those restaurants and grocers not served by the larger wholesalers," added Zelickson. "We already work with our brand partners on a business-to-consumer ("B2C") strategy through our marketplace, but now we can also help our brand partners get access to distribution in local restaurants and grocers, expanding Vejii's capabilities from just B2C to also include B2B and food service." "I built VEDGEco out of a necessity, given the limited plant-based options available in the small and local grocers and restaurants where I live in Kailua, Hawaii," said Trevor Hitch, CEO of VEDGEco. "Most of us are likely to have our first experience trying new plant-based products at a restaurant before purchasing those items to enjoy at home. With VEDGEco, our mission is to make plant-based options more broadly available by making them accessible to thousands of local restaurants across America. This access gives owners the ability to test products on their menu through our easy-to-use platform, without the need for long-term commitments or high, minimum order volumes. Owners can then see what works for their customer base and then return to re-order or test new options." The Transaction is expected to drive synergies across purchasing, customer service, technology, and logistics for Vejii and VEDGEco. Vejii will also be able to leverage VEDGEco's existing facilities in Hawaii, Northern California and Georgia, while providing VEDGEco with access to its facilities in Texas, Wisconsin, and its soon-to-be operational third-party logistics operation in Southern California. "The acquisition of VEDGEco will allow us to add a new revenue stream while increasing our buying power and margins with large brands, and also adding tremendous value for the brands on our platform. As restaurants and grocers expand their plant-based offerings, we will be strategically positioned to serve them while helping plant-based brands scale their businesses by offering those brands access to national distribution through the VEDGEco wholesale platform." Darren Gill, COO of Vejii In addition to providing VEDGEco's existing offering of wholesale plant-based products, Vejii will now have the ability to significantly expand VEDGEco's product selection by leveraging its existing case-lot purchasing and expanding the range of products on its platform through VEDGEco. VEDGEco operates its distribution centers from Hawaii and California, which will further expand Vejii's distribution network, reducing shipping costs and expanding the Company's offering of regionalized same-day delivery. About VEDGEco USA Inc. Headquartered in Kailua Hawaii, and launched in 2020 VEDGEco, the first nationwide plant-based foodservice distributor, helps restaurants go vegan by offering a selection of uncompromisingly delicious plant-based options that are easy to prepare. With a goal of bringing the freedom of food choice to all restaurants and businesses, VEDGEco distributes plant-based products in bulk to the restaurant and wholesale food industry, as well as to consumers across the U.S. Carrying a carefully curated selection of the best plant-based meat, dairy, and egg alternatives, VEDGEco ships frozen and in recyclable and compostable packaging to reduce our carbon footprint. About Vejii Holdings Inc. Headquartered in Kelowna B.C, Vejii is a unified digital marketplace and fulfillment platform featuring thousands of plant-based and sustainable-living products from a growing list of hundreds of vendors. The platform offers an easy-to-use, omnichannel experience for both vendors and buyers, leveraging big data and artificial intelligence to elegantly connect brands with a targeted consumer base, both organically and through specialized marketing programs. Dynamic fulfillment services empower brands to offer tier-one service, with ongoing engagement being driven through features like smart lists, subscription programs, reordering functions, sampling programs, and more. The Company also owns and operates U.S.-based Veg Essentials LLC ("Vegan Essentials"), which operates VeganEssentials.com. A staple of the plant-based community, Vegan Essentials was established in 1997 and contributes more than 20 years of consumer insight, data, and buying power. VeganEssentials.com was awarded best online vegan store from 2005-2018, as well as best online vegan grocer from 2018-2021 by VegNews Magazine.

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MARKETING AND NETWORKING

Breef and Newity Partner to Help Small Businesses Grow With Easy Access to Vetted Marketing Service Providers

Breef | March 07, 2022

Breef (www.breef.com), the world’s first online agency marketplace, has announced a partnership with NEWITY, the small business marketplace dedicated to supporting equitable access to SBA loans and trusted business service providers. As NEWITY’s official Marketing Services Partner, Breef is helping NEWITY’s growing community of 115,000 small business members more easily access marketing agency resources and extend their growth opportunities. Breef provides brands with access to more than 6,000 vetted, boutique agencies that deliver more than 40 project types. From brand creative and public relations to digital marketing, web development, and design, Breef connects companies with vetted agency partners in under seven days, simplifying the marketing outsourcing process to drive measurable business outcomes. Businesses using Breef have reported savings on average of 35% per project compared with traditional agency spend — allowing small businesses to get more out of their advertising and marketing budget. “We are committed to introducing our community to resources that will help their businesses grow and become more profitable,” said Luke LaHaie, Co-CEO and Co-Founder at NEWITY. “Breef allows us to fulfill this commitment by providing access to essential marketing tools and relationships that in the past have been reserved for only the largest companies with significant marketing budgets.” Through this partnership, NEWITY members will gain access to Breef’s innovative platform and dedicated expert support to help guide their marketing project planning, budgeting, and scoping processes. “At Breef, we give users both the tools and technology to make outsourcing to agencies accessible and affordable. We’re thrilled to be a dedicated resource to NEWITY’s community and help guide its small businesses to marketing success.” George Raptis, Co-Founder at Breef In a step to provide integrated services that help small businesses via this partnership, Breef plans to roll out NEWITY’s suite of loan offerings to its community. Breef will start with the SBA 7(a) loan — a core component of NEWITY’s offering — which commenced initially with PPP loans during the early phase of Covid. ”By providing equitable access to SBA 7(a) loans via our simplified online application, small businesses are able to quickly obtain the inexpensive working capital they desperately need to grow their businesses,” said LaHaie. “By spending these funds on growth initiatives, such as marketing and advertising, our small business members can grow their market share and profitability without having to contribute more equity to their businesses.” About Breef Founded in 2019 by Emily Bibb and George Raptis, Breef is redefining the future of work by taking the agency online. The company’s technology is the first of its kind to streamline the agency outsourcing process and facilitate high-value, high-consideration projects. Breef’s proprietary platform allows brands to manage and service all agency projects, pitches, and payments, facilitating efficiencies within today’s distributed workforce. The platform hosts more than 6,000 vetted agencies and is used by hundreds of world-leading brands, transacting millions of dollars in projects each month. Breef operates from its headquarters in New York City. About Newity NEWITY is America's Small Business Marketplace, focused on empowering entrepreneurs with access to trusted service providers and affordable loan solutions — all in one place. NEWITY was founded in 2020 to better service Paycheck Protection Program loans. Today, NEWITY uses leading technologies to help small businesses access services that make running their business more efficient and more profitable.

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Spotlight

More small-business owners are focusing their marketing efforts on social media than in years past. According to a recent survey from Vertical Response, a small-business marketing company, 66 percent of small businesses are spending more time on social media compared to last year.

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