March 8th marked a historic day in Stax history. In the words of CEO and founder Suneera Madhani, “mythical” even.
After the latest funding round Fintech company Stax has achieved unicorn status, raising $245 million from investors Blue Star, Harbourvest and Greater Sum Ventures,which values it at more than $1 billion.
Excited to announce that #Stax has reached unicorn status!🦄
— Stax (@staxpayments) March 8, 2022
Named after the mythical animal in recognition for the rarity of successful startup ventures, recognition as a business unicorn is limited to privately-held capitals that have more than $1B in capital investment.
However, to sister-brother team Suneera Madhani and Sal Rehmetullah, being named a Unicorn is more than hitting valuation numbers. It’s about defying the odds and creating a table where once there were no seats.
“Today, yes, I built my own table but I didn’t do it alone. I couldn’t have done it alone—I had a team behind me that believed in our vision, and worked as hard as I did to bring it to life. Even if that meant raising capital while 7 months pregnant, or foregoing maternity leave, or even watching my daughter Mila take her first steps in my office,” noted Mahani in an impassioned speech as she stood facing a rapidly-growing team.
Minority-led Stax’s success in hitting this recognizable milestone is of major significance for other minority-led businesses that are looking to make their mark.
Especially at a time when less than three percent of venture capital goes to minorities and less than one percent of venture capital goes to businesses with women of color CEOs.
“No matter what I accomplish, the real prize is being able to win with my team by my side. A team that is truly diverse—a team of mothers, of women. A team I can now support to have what I never did. And our team might be diverse in backgrounds, in minds, and in strengths, but we share one vital thread: we have the same heart. It’s about a team that feels like this is their table, too,” Suneera continued.
“That is what defines being a unicorn. Because, what does it actually mean to be a unicorn? Look it up—it means something unique and so special you might even doubt its existence.”
Here’s the latest news roundup on Stax as the fintech’s newest unicorn startup.
Stax Unicorn Updates
- Bloomberg: CEO of Unicorn Stax Says She’ll Go Head to Head With Stripe
- Fast Company: Minority-led Stax is the latest fintech firm to achieve unicorn status
- City of Orlando: Stax Receives Proclamation from Mayor Buddy Dyer marking March 8th as “Stax Day”
- Axios: 1 Big Thing: Women’s Unicorns Remain Rare
- Finextra: Stax reaches unicorn status on $245 million equity raise
- Fortune: Stax CEO Suneera Madhani has built fintech’s latest unicorn
- Additional News Coverage
Bloomberg: CEO of Unicorn Stax Says She’ll Go Head to Head With Stripe
“I think there’s a lot of gatekeeping in business, especially how knowledge is shared in locker rooms, country clubs, and boys clubs,” – Suneera Madhani, CEO and Founder of Stax
Madhani wants to set an example as one of the few women of color to build a company of this size. She hosts a podcast called CEO School and uses social media to share advice on leadership and motherhood, as well as the occasional TikTok dance.
“We should invest more in women. That’s what the stats tell you. Because even with the little dollars that we have, we’re making a dent,” Madhani says. “Why are we not holding Silicon Valley accountable for having some parity in funding for women? This should be a mandate, as part of every venture fund that’s out there.”
Fast Company: Minority-led Stax is the latest fintech firm to achieve unicorn status
Stax [has] the distinction of being one of the rare unicorns that happen to be minority-led. And not only that, but it’s also one of the rare startups led by a brother-sister team. Stax was founded by siblings Suneera Madhani, the company’s CEO, and Sal Rehmetullah, its president, and it’s taken the duo just 8 years to go unicorn.
Announcing the milestone, CEO Suneera Madhani said, “As a minority woman and executive in fintech, I’m no stranger to discrimination and doubt. My brother and I built this company from our parents’ home back in 2014. Since then, we’ve grown 500% in the past three years and processed more than $23 billion in payments for 22,000 businesses nationwide. We share this milestone not just with our team, but every person of color trying to hustle, build their own business and make history.”
City of Orlando: Stax Receives Proclamation from Mayor Buddy Dyer marking March 8th as “Stax Day”
One of Orlando’s homegrown companies has reached an impressive milestone. I loved joining @staxpayments to celebrate its latest funding raise, giving the company – which siblings Suneera Madhani and Sal Rehmetullah started in 2014 – unicorn status with a valuation of $1 billion. pic.twitter.com/GAeqHoM6hy
— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) March 8, 2022
Axios: 1 Big Thing: Women’s Unicorns Remain Rare
According to Axios:
- Stax is one of just 23 fintech unicorns in the world with a woman founder or co-founder—a rare distinction in a sector that is more male-dominated than most.
- Despite talks of more equity in venture capital, progress in funding female-founded companies has plateaued in recent years.
- Solely female-founded U.S. companies have raised just 2.1% of all venture dollars so far in 2022, while those with a male co-founder have raised 12.5% of the total, down from a 2017 figure.
The bottom line: Female-founded and co-founded fintechs remain a rarity, making up less than 10% of that entire cohort in the world.
Finextra: Stax Reaches Unicorn Status on $245 Million Equity Raise
The new capital comes on the heels of a significant year of growth for Stax, having just acquired automated surcharging platform CardX this past November.
The fresh equity will be used to expand product capabilities, hire new staff and expand internationally, says Madhani.
Fortune: Stax CEO Suneera Madhani Has Built Fintech’s Latest Unicorn
- The fintech industry welcomed a new business unicorn yesterday after the Orlando, Florida-based payments company Stax announced a $245 million series D round, valuing the business at more than $1 billion.
- Over the past eight years, the 300-person company has processed $23 billion in payments for more than 20,000 customers across retail, professional services, and health care. With its new valuation—backed by investors Greater Sum Ventures, HarbourVest Partners, and Blue Star Innovation—Stax plans to go “head-to-head” with Stripe
Fortune: What does this valuation milestone mean for the business?
Suneera: The concept of unicorn status as a benchmark in tech—it’s a boys’ club for all the wrong reasons. It’s amazing that we have validation for the company, but as a woman, sometimes you don’t know this is even possible. I didn’t even know I could go build a $100 million business, or to say, ‘I don’t want a $100 million business, I want a billion-dollar business.’
Fortune: What’s next for Stax?
Suneera: There isn’t anyone with an omnichannel platform like ours. We believe we are industry-leading. Everybody’s thinking about payments, and owning that ecosystem and that user experience within their platform. We want to be that payment stack in that architecture for software companies who need omnichannel payments.
We’re just getting started and we’re taking on Stripe head-to-head.
Additional News Coverage
- Orlando Business Journal: Orlando’s Stax hits $1B valuation after closing big VC round
- Orlando Inno: A tech ‘unicorn’ is born: Fintech firm Stax closes historic VC deal
- Florida Trend: Wednesday’s Afternoon Update | Business Profile
- Finance Magnates: Payments Startup Stax Gets Unicorn Status after Raising $245M
- PYMNTS: FinTech Stax Reaches Unicorn Status Following $245M Funding
- Yahoo! Money: Women fintech founders are rare across a booming industry
- Law 360: Minority-Led Payments Fintech Stax Hits $1B Valuation
- Fortune Term Sheet: Newsletter | March 8th, 2022
- Inside Venture Capital: Inside Venture Capital | Mar 8th, 2022
- The Paypers: Fintech Stax to achieve unicorn status
- Tearsheet: Daily Tearsheet | Mar 9th, 2022
- Pitchbook: Stax picks up $245M
- Fintech Futures: Stax to Become Fintech’s Newest Unicorn with Latest Funding Round
- Electronic Payments International: Payments platform Stax raises $245m; achieves unicorn status
- Fintech Finance: Stax to Become Fintech’s Newest Unicorn with Latest Funding Round