We just closed a $6 million dollar Series A round of funding with a couple kick-butt venture groups: Highway 12 Ventures and Tribeca Venture Partners (formerly GSA Venture Partners). After years of blood, sweat, and tears, we've turned everything we've learned into an incredible technology and it bears the name of our new company, Lendio, very well.
Lendio started out matching entrepreneurs to angel investors under the name FundingUniverse.com. We started a series of really popular events: SpeedPitch, CrowdPitch, and BankPitch. FundingUniverse.com did well connecting entrepreneurs to angels and VCs, but we realized that the market need for matching between small business owners and commercial lenders (banks, credit unions, and other lending institutions) was much larger, even more inefficient, and underserved. We also realized that we wanted our events to be free – so we started down a new (and awesome) direction. Events became free, our focus became loans, and the two-year bootstrapped development process of the Lendio technology development began.
The past 2 years has been both exciting and challenging. FundingUniverse.com experienced incredible growth as we helped customers get over $240M of loan approvals and equity funding (that we know of – the actual number is higher). We won some cool awards, including the 34th fastest-growing company in the USA on the 2010 Inc. 500 list. This tremendous growth and success was based around a model wherein our customers asked us to contact them on the phone and work with them to be lender or investor ready. While we have had a tremendous amount of success helping our customers secure funding, we also felt the pain of appropriately managing customer expectations. As with any fast-growing company with a large number of customers that purchase via the phone, FundingUniverse.com has had a small amount of unhappy customers and some unwanted complaints.
As a company, we have taken the best out of our 5 years of learning experiences and created an incredible product. Lendio as a company and as a technology will eliminate the manual systems and verbal representations of our old process so that we can quickly scale and, as mentioned, do a better job of managing customer expectations. It's important to note "better" versus "perfectly," because after all, it's difficult to help secure a loan for the well-intentioned entrepreneur from Guam so that he can build a force field to protect Earth from alien invasions (yes, this was a actual customer we turned away). :)
We are proud of the fact that at FundingUniverse.com we helped small businesses get over $240M in loans. As Lendio, that number will increase dramatically. Why? Because Lendio was created for main street businesses like insurance agencies, retail shops, restaurants, software companies, and other brick and mortar establishments, not necessarily for the next Twitter or Facebook (although they might have needed a loan at one time, too). We think the answer to the desperately needed economic growth in America is indeed the "small" business – and that is why we are laser focused on making small business loans simple for each and every one of them.
How does Lendio make small business loans simple? With 10,000 lending entities offering some sort of commercial financing nationally, and with each of those entities offering 3 to 4 loan options, a business owner has 30,000 to 40,000 points of confusion to drive them crazy. Lendio is simple yet powerful; first the business owner is matched to the right type of loan category, and then to the right lender to extend the loan, effectively boiling 40,000 loan options down to the top 5-7. All of this in a matter of minutes via our proprietary algorithms, databases, API's and of course, people. If the business owner isn't a good fit for any financing, or doesn't like their options, then Lendio helps them, over time, fix what's wrong. Lendio provides a valuable and needed service. We have spent millions of dollars -- and hours -- building the best option in the world for business owners and lending institutions. You can sign up for our beta test here.
There's not a company anywhere in the world with people that are more in love with small business than here at Lendio. Nationally, 9 out of 10 commercial loan applications made by businesses are rejected, representing a success rate of an embarrassing 10%. With the help of Lendio, we can do a lot better.
What would happen for job creation and the economy if we were successful in dramatically increasing the number of loan approvals? Dang, that's cool to think about. President Obama, don't worry, we're here to help you out!
FundingUniverse.com now becomes Lendio; sign up for our beta and come get matched for financing.-The Lendio Team