The second investment by the New Community Transformation Fund — a recently formed Grand Rapids investment fund for minority entrepreneurs — went to a Texas fintech that relocated its headquarters to downtown Grand Rapids.
Zil Money Corp. developed a platform for small and mid-sized businesses to move and manage money online. The four-year-old company will use the New Community Transformation Fund (NCTF) investment to support more than 400,000 clients who use the platform for online accounts payables and receivables.
“I am honored to have NCTF investing in our startup,” Zil Money founder Sabeer Nelli said in an announcement on the investment. “I’m excited to plant our roots in Grand Rapids and continue disrupting the online payment platform industry with our unique offerings.”
Zil Money’s website now lists its headquarters as based in downtown Grand Rapids at 250 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 400, along with prior locations in Tyler, Texas, and San Jose, Calif.
Nelli started Zil Money in 2019. He previously formed Tyler Petroleum Inc., a company involved in gas stations, travel centers, convenient shops and food centers in Texas that now has $60 million in revenue and more than 200 employees. The company ranked 4,090 on Inc.com’s 2021 list of America’s Fastest Growing Companies.
At Tyler Petroleum, Nelli often has issues with accounts payable. That led him to start Zil Money.
“I needed a better solution for accounts payable for the business as we were using a variety of payment providers for different vendors,” Nelli said. “We had so many vendors, which was expensive, and it required a massive commitment of time, so I started to think through how we could streamline things into one online platform.”
Terms of the New Community Transformation Fund’s investment in Zil Money were undisclosed. The deal follows the fund’s first investment of $500,000 in BAMF Health Inc., a Grand Rapids startup for an advanced cancer treatment.
The New Community Transformation Fund supports companies operated by minorities and people of color.
The venture capital fund invests $250,000 to $500,000 in second-stage, minority-owned companies in advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, e-commerce and information technology, life sciences, and financial technology. The fund will also back minorities and entrepreneurs of color who are buying companies going through an ownership transition. Investments will go to local businesses and those based outside of the region who, like Zil Money, are willing to relocate to West Michigan.
“Already, the company has serviced thousands of customers and has processed over $30 billion in volume, so we’re excited to see the company continue to innovate and expand its financial software to small-and medium-sized businesses,” Ollie Howie, managing director for the New Community Transformation Fund, said of Zil Money.