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Charlotte-based Passport Closes $65M Series D For Mobile Payment Platform

North Carolina is having a good fourth quarter.

In October, North Carolina got a new unicorn in Pendo, a Raleigh-based cloud tech startup that raised a $100 million Series E. Also that month, Wilmington-based nCino, which has developed a cloud-based operating system for financial institutions, announced it had raised $80 million in a round of funding led by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.

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Today, Passport, a Charlotte-based mobility management platform, has closed a $65M Series D funding round.

New investors Rho Capital Partners, H.I.G. Growth Partners and ThornTree Capital Partners participated in the financing, bringing the company’s total raised capital to $125 million since it was founded in 2010. Previous backers include Bain Capital Ventures, MK Capital, Grotech Ventures, and Relevance Capital . The company declined to provide its valuation.

Bob Youakim, Passport CEO and co-founder, said his company was initially formed as a mobile-based payment platform to allow municipalities to directly connect with their customers “to process mobile parking transactions and make parking operations smoother.”

Over the years, with a payment system at its core, Passport’s enterprise software has evolved to help serve government entities and universities as well. The platform gives users the ability “to digitally coordinate all modes of transportation” and implement “real-time, data-centric management” of their curbside and streetspace. Specifically, its platform helps with mobile parking payments, parking enforcement, and digital parking permits.

Seamless mobility

Passport says it works with over 1,000 municipalities, universities and private operators in North America and the U.K. in major cities such as Chicago, Boston, Toronto, London, Austin, and Atlanta.

“In the future, almost everyone in the world will live in a city, so there’s no more important challenge to work on than how people move throughout communities and transact with cities,” Youakim said, noting that Passport’s vision is of a world where “mobility is seamless.”

“To bring this vision to life, we are creating an open ecosystem where any entity – a connected or autonomous vehicle, a mapping app, or a parking app – can leverage our transactional infrastructure to facilitate digital parking payments,” he added.

Growth

The company has seen robust growth in recent years, with Youakim noting that revenue climbed 511 percent from 2015 to 2018. Passport also has doubled its headcount this year alone and now has more than 300 employees. It’s also acquired three companies over its lifetime, including one in 2019 –including New York’s Complus Data Innovations.

Passport plans to use the new capital to further invest in its mobility platform, with the goal of enabling cities “to manage a complex mobility ecosystem from a single hub.”

Bob Youakim, Passport’s CEO and co-founder (right) and Khristian Gutierrez, chief revenue officer.

As part of the financing, Habib Kairouz from Rho Capital Partners will be joining Passport’s board of directors, along with Scott Hilleboe from H.I.G.

In October 2018, I took a look at North Carolina’s growing startup scene. At that time, we found that venture funding in NC startups was up 154 percent to $2.57 billion for the year compared to $1.01 billion in all of 2017,  according to Crunchbase data.

Passport’s Series D represents one of the largest funding rounds ever raised by a Charlotte startup, according to Crunchbase data as cited by the Charlotte Business Journal.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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