France’s new unicorn: Swile raises €173M in SoftBank-led round; plans to hire 500 employees by 2022-end

Paris-based scaleup Swile, a digital solutions provider for employee rewards and benefits, has earned unicorn status by raising an additional $200M (approx €173M) in its Series D round of funding and increasing its valuation to over $1B.

Swile raised $17.4M in its Seed/Series A round in 2018, $34.7M in 2019, and raised $81M in its Series C round in 2020.

Investors in this round

The Series D round was led by Softbank. With this development, Michel Combes, chairman of Softbank International Group and former chairman of Alcatel-Lucent and SFR-Numericable, will join Swile’s board of directors.

Combes says, “Swile’s long-term vision to improve how people experience work are well aligned with SoftBank’s vision of digital transformation. We are impressed by the company’s innovative product. Swile has demonstrated its success in France serving some of the nation’s largest employees, and we believe the company is in the early innings of replicating that in Brazil and Latin America.”

Existing investors Eurazeo, bpifrance, and Index Ventures, and newcomer Headline also participated in this round.

Replaced the outdated paper voucher with digital solution!

Founded in 2018 by Loïc Soubeyrand, Swile claims to have replaced the traditional and outdated French paper meal voucher market with a digital solution that works with the VISA and Mastercard networks.

Swile was started as Lunchr, which featured a Mastercard and a mobile app to replace meal vouchers provided by companies to their employees in the form of coupon booklets. In 2020, Lunchr rebranded to Swile to expand its product offering. Today, Swile also allows companies to incorporate gift and mobility vouchers into the card.

In the last 4 years, the company claims to have gained 13 per cent of the French corporate benefits market share. After integrating its services with well-established tech companies such as Doctolib, Spotify, and Airbnb, Swile now provides benefits to companies of all sectors and sizes – ranging from small businesses to the largest private company in France, Carrefour.

Currently, the company is operational in France and Brazil and has 500 employees, 500,000 users, and 15,000 corporate clients including Carrefour, Le Monde, PSG, Airbnb, Spotify, Red Bull, and TikTok.

Capital utilisation

The company says that the proceeds from this round will help its technological advancement and further international expansion. The company will also be launching new digital solutions with its two main products including Swile Card – the all-in-one payment solution and Swile App – the employee super-app.

Swile Card is a smartcard that manages all corporate benefits such as meal vouchers, gift vouchers, mobility, etc. The company says that other benefits such as holiday vouchers, salary advances, etc. will be added in the coming months with the goal to make Swile Card the go-to card for employees to manage all corporate expenses – benefits, business expenses and payments between colleagues.

After being in beta for the last 12 months, Swile will soon officially launch Swile App, a super-app dedicated to the employee experience. The features of the app focus on team building and cohesion with internal communication, recognition, and praises between colleagues. There are also measuring tools and insights for companies, such as anonymous surveys and feedback.

1000 employees by the end of 2022

In order to expand internationally and accelerate further growth, Swile says that it will continue to seek out top talent and recruit 500 employees by the end of 2022 in Brazil and France, doubling the size of the company.

These new talents will help maintain Swile’s organisation, which has a workforce distributed throughout France – 25 per cent in Paris, 25 per cent in Montpellier, 25 per cent remote, and another 25 per cent in Brazil. 

The company says that its local roots in the southern French region of Occitania have already created 150 jobs and contribute to both attractiveness and development in the area.

Cédric O, Secratary of State for the Digital Sector, says, “The fact that Swile has become our 19th unicorn is a shining symbol as to how far French Tech has come. In just a few years, startups have been engines for growth and job creation across the country, like Swile in Montpellier. In 2017, the French Tech ecosystem had just 3 unicorns. Now it has 19, and is expected to exceed €10B in funds raised in 2021.”

“These exceptional results are in large part due to the creativity of our entrepreneurs and also the constant support from the Government towards these strategic technological advances and the French economy.”

Recent development

In early 2021, Swile acquired the startup Vee Beneficios for its launch in Brazil, the world’s largest market for employee benefits. There are now 120 Swile employees operating in Sao Paulo. 

With nearly 50 million employees eligible for benefits and a digitization rate nearing 100 per cent, Brazil represents an exponential growth opportunity for Swile.



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