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CMU Portugal Startup MAMBU Becomes a Unicorn Company

Mambu was founded in 2009 in the scope of the CMU Portugal Program and is now worth over €1.7 billion €

Mambu, one of the first startups launched under the CMU Portugal Program, has announced a new funding round of €110 million, becoming Germany’s most recent Unicorn Company and the first one created under the scope of the CMU Portugal Program, with a valuation of over €1.7 billion. This world-class company started as the result of the research project developed by three students of the CMU Portugal Master’s program in Human-Computer Interaction at the Interactive Technologies Institute in Madeira.

The three company founders, Sofia Nunes (Portugal), Eugene Danilkis (Canada) and Frederik Pfisterer (Germany) met while attending the CMU Portugal Master’s program in HCI at Madeira. They developed the company’s idea as their Master Project – a year-long microfinance research project with a focus on Mozambique – which was their first step towards creating Mambu, a company operating in the microfinance sector that developed the banking platform “SaaS” (Software as a Service) that is today the leader market share. The platform differs from traditional core banking players by accelerating and simplifying how financial products are built and serviced by financial institutions. Mambu’s platform is used by traditional banks, fintech startups, financial institutions, nonprofits and other businesses to power their financial products and services. This cloud technology helps to disseminate microfinance, allowing organizations to provide the service more efficiently, quickly and economically, reaching more customers.

According to Eugene Danilkis, co-founder and CEO of Mambu, quoted on the company’s press release: “When Mambu launched in 2011, we knew the future of banking would have to be built on agile and flexible technology. Nearly a decade later, this is more true now than ever, particularly given developments over the past year. As an increasing number of challenges and established banks sign on to prepare themselves to thrive in the fintech era, we have, and will continue to provide them with a world-class platform on which to build modern, agile customer-centric businesses.”

The company founders have already recognized that the creative and innovative environment provided by the CMU Portugal Program, CMU and Universidade da Madeira, was of high importance to start their entrepreneurship endeavor. For Sofia Nunes, the support and background of these institutions was essential for the founders to start paving their own way: “Carnegie Mellon University and the Universidade da Madeira through the CMU Portugal Program, created an environment that gave us the courage, confidence and initial experience to start on this road. Our professors in Pittsburgh boosted our entrepreneurial spirit and supported us in the very early days to start exploring the idea of creating a company. And Madeira provided an environment where we became friends, learned, struggled and solved problems together. We formed relationships which were essential for getting through the many long and tough days of the early stages of a company,” she stated.

The tech company currently operates in more than 50 countries but with this new round of investment by TCV (Technology Crossover Ventures), whose investments include Netflix, and Spotify, and the additional funds received by investors such as Tiger Global and Arena Holdings, the company intends to continue its expansion and invest in markets such as Brazil, Japan and the United States, planning to double its team to more than 1,000 employees by 2022.

Mambu is an excellent example of how CMU Portugal is able to transform careers and personal paths, having an effective impact on human capital development.

Since the beginning of the CMU Portugal Program in 2006, 12 successful startups have been created under the scope of the Program. Some of these companies play a leading role in the national and international scene, namely Feedzai, Unbabel and Veniam. Together these companies have already attracted tens of millions of euros of international financing and created more than 1,000 highly skilled jobs.

The mission of the CMU Portugal Program, financed by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, is to place Portugal at the forefront of research and technological development in the area of ICT, by promoting an innovation ecosystem with a tight coupling between cutting-edge research, world-class graduate education, and highly innovative companies in the data-driven economy.

The Program’s success is mainly due to the network of collaborations it has been building over the years with partners from the Academy and Industry, as well as the support of research teams from Carnegie Mellon.

Mambu Press release