M1 Finance closes $45M Series C mere months after it raised its $33M Series B

Just months after it announced a $33 million Series B, Chicago-based M1 Finance today disclosed a $45 Series C.

The new financing event was led by Left Lane Capital, the same investor that led M1’s Series B. Bear in mind that so-called inside rounds are now a bullish sign in 2020, as opposed to in prior VC eras when they were viewed more cooly. Other M1 investors include Jump Capital, Clocktower Technology Ventures and Chicago Ventures, though only the first two appear to have taken part in this round.

Per M1, the Series C comes just 120 days after it raised a Series B. A good question is why M1 has raised more capital, and why Left Lane Capital wanted to lead two rounds for the consumer-focused fintech provider. Going back to our prior coverage, we can figure it out.

In February, we reported that M1 Finance had reached the $1 billion assets under management mark, or AUM.

The startup combines three different traditional fintech services into one (roboadvising, neobanking and lending), allowing it to price the package aggressively. The model appears to be working. When M1 raised its Series B a few months later in June, it had reached the $1.45 billion AUM, or about 45% growth in just over a quarter. That’s very good.

Today, the company announced that it has surpassed the $2 billion AUM mark, up more than 38% in the last four months.

M1 posted slower AUM growth in percentage terms and greater growth in raw AUM over a similar time frame heading into its Series C. But regardless of that nuance, the company’s AUM grew quickly.

That fact helps explain its new round. If you were Left Lane Capital, had just led a round into the company, and then watched it keep growing rapidly, you’d want to double-down quickly. Not only to buy more of the company, but also to get the round done before another investor could show up and buy its own piece of M1, diluting you and nabbing your ascendant position as the startup’s most recent lead investor.

So Left Lane led the Series C, hoping that M1 keeps growing like the proverbial garden irritant.

Revenue, growth

Something fun about M1 is that it shared a revenue target as a percent of AUM earlier in the year, namely that it aims to generate around 1% of its AUM in revenue each year. The company’s CEO Brian Barnes re-confirmed the number for TechCrunch this week.

So, with more than $2 billion in AUM, we can see that M1’s revenues are probably on a run rate of more than $20 million today, and could crest a $25 million run rate by the end of the year, provided that growth continues as it has for the startup.

How is M1 adding so much capital to its platform? Barnes told TechCrunch that M1 has tripled its userbase since the start of the year, and that its current users are bringing more funds in from other financial platforms. The combination is making M1 larger, and quickly.

To wrap, our notes above about Left Lane probably wanting to lead the Series C to keep some other firm from doing it — pre-emption is a regular thing in today’s hot VC market — weren’t mere idle speculation. Barnes told TechCrunch in response to a question about its Series C that his company was “fortunate to have significant investor demand for our Series C, partly due to hitting milestones as quickly” as it has. That sounds like the possibility of competing lead investors to us, at least from our present remove.

The M1 round continues the savings and investing boom we’ve tracked this year. And the round is a win for the Midwest at the same time. More when M1 reaches $3 billion in AUM. Start your countdown.

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