Bain Capital Ventures parks $43M in Passport
By Elizabeth Heffner
Enabling motorists to make mobile payments for inner-city parking has helped Charlotte-based Passport get moving since its founding in 2010. But the company’s ambitions have grown dramatically, prompting a $43 million investment from private-equity firm Bain Capital Ventures. It marked one of the largest venture investments in North Carolina in 2017 and more than doubles the $17 million previously raised by Passport from Grotech Ventures, MK Capital and others. The money should allow Passport to hire 50 people this year, joining a current staff of 100.
The attraction for Bain is that Passport’s software enables mobile-savvy commuters to pay for parking and bus or subway rides. Mass-transit systems in Charlotte, Detroit and Miami already offer the service. The company is expanding into toll roads, having recently earned a bid to work with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Chief Revenue Officer Khristian Gutierrez says. Passport’s products will allow motorists to pay for tolls with mobile devices rather than fishing for cash or credit cards.
“We’re really looking to simplify that [customer] experience with mobile,” Gutierrez says, while also helping government transportation agencies connect with the public and raise more revenue. “We can provide a one-stop shop and help a city with mobile payments” for parking, transit-system fees, fines and other services. “The data becomes incredibly powerful for those agencies.”
Chief Executive Officer Bob Youakim, a former investment banker who co-founded Passport, is focusing this year on expansions in Latin America and the United Kingdom, where it launched service in central London’s Westminster neighborhood last April. Boston-based Bain Capital Ventures is also a lead investor in Charlotte-based AvidXchange, which develops accounts-payable software and has secured more than $500 million in financing. Bain Managing Director Matt Harris is a director of both Charlotte companies.
“At the core of everything we’re trying to do, we’re looking to create additional jobs here in North Carolina,” Gutierrez says.
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KINGS MOUNTAIN — STI completed a 150,000-square-foot expansion of its local textile mill. The family-owned company plans to add 100 jobs to its existing 300. STI makes upholstery fabric for furniture makers including Drexel Heritage, Corinthian and Bassett.
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