C2FO: Building a World-Class Fintech Company in Kansas City
Sandy Kemper & Team
Fairway, Kansas | Innovation-Led
Two years ago, a billion dollars moved through the C2FO marketplace in a single month, a landmark achievement for the business. By the end of 2016, the market had generated more than $78.8 billion in working capital volume. C2FO also has more than 40 Fortune 500 customers, totaling more than $1.2 Trillion in annual cost of goods sold (COGS) including Costco Wholesale, Pfizer and Mohawk Industries.
C2FO, the largest marketplace for working capital in the world, is headquartered in Fairway, Kansas. C2FO helps companies improve the bottom line and strengthen supply chain health by collaborating in their real-time marketplace to discover the best rate for early funding that’s profitable to both.
Making and moving money in KC
C2FO spent its second year in a row on the Forbes Fintech 50 List in 2016 and attributes their remarkable growth to the efforts of their global customers and team, the strength of Kansas City’s business community and the area’s ability to attract and retain top-notch talent.
Sanjay Gupta, COO of the company, has felt this pull firsthand. He started his career at Sprint in Kansas City, then with companies around the country, including Groupon in Chicago, before returning to Kansas City to work at C2FO.
Sanjay credits his return to Kansas City’s reasonable cost of living, high quality of life and its entrepreneurial spirit. “What attracts people to KC are companies like C2FO that are purpose-driven, true to the core in terms of cultural value and are trying to solve an admirable problem.”
A startup’s startup
This is the third year C2FO has made an appearance in the We Create KC report. Years one and two were on the Kansas City Watch List, which features companies who have received funding in back to back years.
C2FO has set an example for other Kansas City startups because of the pace of its growth and the team’s dedication to giving back to the startup community.
C2FO incubates other local startups focused on creating marketplaces in their sector. In the past year, they have welcomed Bungii (like Uber for pickup trucks), Stock Tycoon (a social brokerage platform), InReturn Strategies (job placement for people with disabilities) and PreScreend (on-demand background checks) into the fold.
Founding teams have the opportunity to learn from senior management, and C2FO executives have personally invested in the companies and referred them, and other local companies, to venture capitalists in their international finance network.
But that’s just the beginning. The C2FO team recently launched Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP KC), a hands-on paid internship and college scholarship program for Kansas City metro high school students that focuses on entrepreneurial thinking and development through practical experience.
YEP KC partners with local high-growth companies to offer students opportunities to interact directly with serial entrepreneurs and successful startups including C2FO, BLOOM, EyeVerify and Dimensional Innovations.
In tandem with growing the business, the C2FO team takes extra steps to invest in the Kansas City community. Led by Kerri Thurston, CFO and John Christopher, CTO, C2FO is working with the University of Kansas to encourage women engineers; and employees host regular tech meet-ups at their Fairway headquarters to nurture grassroots talent. Piero Ferrante, lead data scientist, is also an adjunct professor at Rockhurst University and University of Kansas and advisor to KC startup Play-it Health.
Investing in Kansas City
In 2008, the company founders provided seed funding for C2FO alongside local investor OPENAIR Equity Partners and later Summerhill Venture Partners. The business has since attracted big name outside investors, including Union Square Ventures, Temasek, a Singapore investment fund, Mithril Capital (Peter Thiel) and Tiger Global.
Kansas City’s capital ecosystem has also evolved since 2008. Early-stage funds available to Kansas City entrepreneurs have grown by 290 percent since 2013 to a whopping $752 million.
During this time, some companies made headline-grabbing exits. In 2016, EyeVerify sold to an Alibaba subsidiary for a reported $100-plus million.
Kansas City celebrated alongside EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush and his team. C2FO believes that this was more than just good news, it was a huge win for Kansas City’s startup community. All investors are awaiting a liquidity event, and it’s hard to ignore an exit of that magnitude.
Eyes from around the world are on Kansas City. This startup community has a lot to be proud of and will continue to flourish because companies and investors understand that entrepreneurship is not a zero-sum game.
Sandy Kemper, C2FO Founder and CEO, believes in this bright future. “I hope we can continue to have an environment where everybody’s willing to lend a hand, everybody’s willing to talk shop and to trade ideas that are working, because everyone truly believes that together we can make Kansas City a better place.”
Learn more about Kansas City's entrepreneurs
C2FO's story is one of many in We Create KC
—Kansas City's state of entrepreneurship report. Visit the report now
to learn more about Kansas City's progress toward becoming America's most entrepreneurial city.
Pictured from left to right: Sanjay Gupta, COO, John Christopher, CTO, Erin Carney, CFA, Alexander "Sandy" Kemper, CEO, Pete Thomas, CIO, Dru Shiner, CSO, Not pictured: Kerri Thurston, CFO, Kevin Daniels, CPO.