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Updated: June 17, 2024

Brunswick rent-payment startup acquired for $9.5M

Leslie Hyman standing in front of a mural showing three people. File photo / Jim Neuger Circa, a rent-payment platform co-founded by Leslie Hyman, has been acquired for $9.5 million by Stake, a New York-based financial technology provider.

Circa, a rent-payment startup in Brunswick that took part in a Portland business accelerator, has been acquired for $9.5 million in cash and stock.

The buyer is Stake, a New York-based financial technology company that offers cash rewards to renters. Stake employs around 25 people. Circa has eight full-time employees, five of whom are staying on under the new ownership.

"Circa was founded to bring flexible rent payment innovation to renters," said Leslie Hyman, Circa's co-founder and CEO. "Renters need more options to avoid costly, and heart-breaking, evictions. With Stake, renters are rewarded with Cash Back. With Circa, renters in arrears are empowered with the tools to get current. Together, it's a perfect combination: performance payments meets performance rewards, with a shared mission to empower renters."

Rowland Hobbs, co-founder and CEO of Stake, said his company has always rewarded renters for staying current on rent.

"But no payment platform solves issues that draft on performance like delinquencies and arrears," he said. "Now with Circa, Stake not only prevents delinquencies, we collect on past due balances."

The acquisition was completed earlier this month following approval by both sets of shareholders.

Hyman, whose new role at Stake is head of external affairs, told Mainebiz that Stake first approached Circa about a possible acquisition in February.

Already back in 2022, she indicated that Circa "sees a number of possible exit strategies" and had been contacted by a global software company that was interested in her startup.


For Circa, the acquisition comes two years after the company raised $2 million from investors including Maine Venture Fund. Another was Colorado-based Techstars, which runs accelerator programs worldwide including the former Techstars startup accelerator at Northeastern University's Roux Institute in Portland.

Circa, founded in Connecticut in 2019, moved its base to Maine after graduating from Techstars.

“Circa is a good example of the value of the Roux Institute in the Maine ecosystem, having been drawn to Maine from out of state to participate in the Techstars Accelerator program and then setting down roots and hiring additional staff here,” Joe Powers, managing director of the Maine Venture Fund, told Mainebiz. 

“The acquisition by Stake will allow Circa to turbocharge its original mission of helping renters, and will likely result in additional job creation in Maine even as Stake remains based in New York," he added.

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