Tongo Closes $7M Round Aimed at Improving Commission-Based Cash Flow
Fintech firm has a debit card-like system for cash on demand for residential real estate agents
Seeking to smooth the cash flow for commission-based residential real estate agents, fintech startup Tongo announced Thursday that it has closed a $7 million seed round led by early stage venture capital firm MetaProp.
The funding will be used to expand its “cash on demand” debit card product that allows brokerages to offer agents on-demand access to pending commissions. Agents can use the card like a line of credit to grow their business and stabilize cash flows, according to Tongo.
New Valley Ventures, Good Friends, Launchpad, Elizabeth Street, Red Bike, Lab Ventures and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator participated in Manhattan-based Tongo’s seed round. Founded in 2020, the startup has raised $11 million to date.
“Tongo is the nexus of some things that we’ve been working on for a long time,” said CEO Brandon Wright. “We felt like there was a huge problem that no one was paying attention to — by the end of this decade about half the dollars earned in the U.S. economy should be paid to commission- and transaction-funded professionals. But the financial system makes a false assumption that everybody’s paid on salary, or at least it wants you to be paid on salary. They bill you monthly, they report on you monthly, and that’s built for the salary professional.”
Tongo’s attempt to solve this for the commission-based worker appealed to MetaProp.
“Tongo has developed a modern, elegant solution that eases this challenge, enabling agents to easily access future commission revenue on friendly, flexible terms with the swipe of a card,” MetaProp General Partner Zak Schwarzman said. “Tongo addresses a glaring gap in the consumer credit market for agents and is resonating equally strongly with brokerage firms, who are partnering with Tongo to offer a powerful and differentiated financial management solution that impacts their agents’ lives and wallets.”
Tongo requires a large balance sheet to fund its debit card, said Wright, who added that the startup has partnered with Visa to create the product. The company is looking to work with institutional funding partners as its business grows.
Wright is aware of the pay-cycle volatility of commission-driven brokerage businesses and said that Tongo is designed to deal with that reality. “We basically risk score [card users], and that helps us understand effectively how much of their income we should advance and when we should expect to be repaid,” he said.
Depending on the agent’s risk profile, Tongo’s fees are as low as 3 percent for the first 30 days, said Wright. However, the rate goes up over time, amounting to 6 percent for 60 days and 9 percent for 90 days.
As for future expansion beyond residential to commercial real estate brokers, “We’d love to do commercial. We’re just not there.”
Philip Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.