Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, early Wise (previously TransferWise) employees, founded Lightyear in 2020 after realising they shared a strong common opinion — investing in Europe is broken. With Lightyear, the duo wanted to shake up the retail investment sector in Europe.
In the latest development, Lightyear announces an additional $8.5M in funding led by Mosaic Ventures alongside existing investors Taavet+Sten, and Metaplanet.
Angel investors like Monzo backer Eileen Burbidge, Harsh Sinha, the CTO at Wise, and Taavi Tamkivi, the CEO at Salv, also participated.
The latest funding announcement comes three months after securing a $1.5M pre-seed round from a cohort of a fintech industry stalwart. This takes the total raised pre-launch to $10M.
The round also welcomed Ott Kaukver, the CTO at checkout.com, Wander Rutgers, the former President of Robinhood UK, and Kaarel Kotkas, the founder of Veriff.
On the other hand, the company also hired Wise’s marketing leader, Chris Sumbler, who led numerous teams there over his 6 years at the business.
The funding will enable the company to accelerate its expansion plans and open up transparent and low-cost investing to everyone in Europe.
Eliminates unnecessary barriers or fees
Lightyear combines multi-currency accounts with unlimited access to global markets so customers can invest without hidden fees. With its platform, Lightyear seeks to eradicate the ambiguity and unjustifiable fees levied at retail investors.
Lightyear is on a mission to flip this pricing model by giving customers the tools to add, hold and invest money in multiple currencies, removing the need for conversions.
With unlimited access to more than 1,000 global stocks, Lightyear’s first iteration of the app (its minimum viable product or ‘MVP’) will start onboarding 5000 customers from the waitlist, starting today.
Lightyear has offices in London, UK, and Tallinn, Estonia.
Simon Levene, Mosaic co-founder, and partner say: “Compared to mature markets such as the US, retail investment across Europe is still at the beginning of its growth journey. The customer experience hasn’t been cracked, and the majority of current offerings serve just their local country. Lightyear’s mission is to offer access to global markets for pan-European investors, providing all the necessary data and education they need — with a simple, transparent business model that removes all the hidden and confusing fee structures. We’re delighted to support co-founders Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, two veteran execs from TransferWise, at the start of their journey to empower retail investors – experienced and new alike – across the continent”
Martin Sokk, Co-founder and CEO at Lightyear, adds: “10 months ago Lightyear was just an idea, so we’re excited to have raised a total of $10 million, hired a world-class team, and to be launching the first iteration of our app. There are more people in Europe investing now than ever before, but there’s still a very long way to go. Our goal is to give all of Europe access to the world’s markets without hidden fees and to make investing cognitively easy. We’re excited to have such a strong group of investors that share this vision with us.”
Eileen Burbidge, who personally invested as an angel investor in Lightyear, says: “When it comes to investing in an early-stage business, it’s crucial that the team is best in class, that I believe in the sector, and the product has global appeal. We’ve seen more and more people interested in retail investing over the past year and a half, which, combined with this highly motivated, extremely talented, and high integrity team, makes for something special. I’m excited by Lightyear’s commitment to transparency and building a platform that’s approachable and inclusive, where everyone has the best access, tools, and confidence to invest.”