Lendio's Brock Blake
Lendio's Brock Blake

Alt-finance still in early innings: Lendio CEO Brock Blake

Preparation and self-awareness are keys to an effective capital raise process for Brock Blake
Preparation and self-awareness are keys to an effective capital raise process for Brock Blake

Lendio CEO and Founder Brock Blake is a keynote speaker and session moderator at the second annual Fintech Global Expo taking place on May 28 and 29 in San Diego.

Fintech Global Expo will bring together leaders from the world’s top platforms to discuss marketplace/peer-to-peer lending, real estate, crowdfinance, Bitcoin infrastructure, online investment platforms, and alternative finance’s growth in Europe and Asia.

Brock Blake heads to San Diego on quite the roll. In March, Lendio announced a partnership with Staples in which Lendio was chosen from 30 companies to provide small business financing to Staples customers.

Weeks later, Lendio announced a $20.5 million capital raise with participants including Napier Park’s Financial Partners Group, Blumberg Capital, North Hill Ventures, Pivot Investment Partners and past investors Tribeca Venture Partners, Runa Capital and Highway 12 Ventures.

Before April concluded Lendio also acquired New York-based small business lending platform Business Bounce with the dual goals of increasing loan volume and establishing a presence in New York.

Mr. Blake’s Thursday morning keynote will focus on the current state of small business lending. Given his position as CEO of a site that works with thousands of small businesses across multiple platforms and loan categories, he is expected to share the most current information on the space.

Part of what Mr. Blake will draw from is Lendio’s approach to customer service.

“When a business owner comes to us our goal is to find them best loan product for the space they’re in,” Mr. Blake said. “It could be a piece of equipment such as a tractor for a landscaping business, or for the cash down payment on a building. They may start with a higher interest loan product then proceed to lower rates and longer terms.”

“Because all of the options are in one place we hope to work with the borrower so they don’t have to go from lender to lender and try to keep it going all on their own.”

Mr. Blake said it is an exciting time for small business lending as a new wave of players have entered the space as banks move upstream to larger loan sizes. The new entrants bring innovation and new technologies to provide new solutions for small business.

The game has just started, both in terms of technology, where Mr. Blake believes the industry is in the first or second inning and in growth, simply because only a sliver of the small business community even knows marketplace lending exists.

“Ron Suber says when he sits next to someone on an airplane chances are they have never heard of Prosper or Lending Club,” Mr. Blake said. “Most mainstream business owners haven’t either.”

That is a healthy perspective to have when it is easy to assume more people know about your industry than actually do because you spend every waking moment in it. How do the industry as a whole and individual players avoid tunnel vision and groupthink?

“The best experts in any industry know your brand is not what you tell people it is, it’s what your customers tell people it is,” Mr. Blake explained. “The best lenders are so focused on taking care of their customers that their customers become their best advocates.”

In the next few years, expect to see marketplace lenders engage in direct mail, radio and television ads as they seek to reach more small business owners, Mr. Blake predicts.

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