How a serial entrepreneur built the nation’s largest business loan marketplace to help others achieve their aspirations.
Left: Brock Blake, CEO and founder; right: Trent Miskin, CGO and founder
From his boyhood paper route to his soccer camp business in college, Brock Blake has always found a way to let his entrepreneurial spirit blossom. Shortly after graduating from Brigham Young University, he entered an entrepreneurship competition similar to The Apprentice. After beating out hundreds of applicants and going through an eight-week boot camp with 20 other finalists, Brock used his $50,000 winnings to start a business with co-founder and friend, Trent Miskin. The original business model connected small business owners to investors.
But after realizing that most of their customers didn’t need venture funding, they started working on a spinoff that provides small business owners much-needed loans. Lendio was born in 2011. Now after eight years in business, Lendio has helped small businesses get access to over $1.5B in loans to start and grow their businesses—and that number is growing quickly.
There’s a charitable component, too. For every new loan facilitated on Lendio’s marketplace platform, Lendio Gives, the employee contribution and employer matching program, provides a microloan to a low-income entrepreneur around the world through Kiva.org.
Lendio has options on tap from 75 of the top online lenders, banks and industry specialty lenders. A one-stop-shop for thousands of business owners looking for capital to start, operate and grow, the company’s laser focus on customer satisfaction drives repeat customers— the renewal rate is 50 percent on first-time loans. Lendio’s highly-trained lending experts are focused on helping every borrower to build his or her credit profile. Priding itself as a small business advocate, Lendio carefully vets both lenders and employees. Funding managers work to promote transparency and to present the best funding options possible to every borrower, ensuring his or her business is better off for taking out a loan.
Lendio’s platform also creates a win-win scenario for its lenders, bringing them new customers by expediting the application and underwriting processes. With a 15-minute application, potential borrowers are vetted according to the requirements of the lenders on the platform, and Lendio automates the data heavy-lifting.
To further facilitate its high-tech, high-touch approach to business lending, in 2017 Lendio launched a first-of-its-kind marketplace lending franchise program.
Through access to Lendio’s marketplace as well as partnerships with community banks, Lendio franchise owners are filling a critical financing gap for hundreds of small business owners across America in a way that’s never been done before.
“As an entrepreneur, nothing could be more fulfilling to me than seeing the tremendous impact Lendio is having on businesses across the country. Access to capital for small businesses has been a difficult problem to solve; many lenders and lending platforms have tried and failed because they couldn’t get the unit economics right. We feel lucky to have been able to crack the code, so to speak, and have established a self-sustaining and profitable business,” says Brock.
When it comes to building an entire workforce of people who buy into the mission and the vision of a founder, it requires a different set of skills that many entrepreneurs don’t have. The idea for Lendio came from Brock’s passion to promote the American dream of entrepreneurship through access to capital. But Brock says, none of what Lendio has accomplished in the last eight years would be possible without a large group of people sharing in his passion. He has not only embraced his role as CEO, but his role as CCO (Corporate Culture Officer). Brock, along with the rest of Lendio’s executive team, has worked to create an environment that supports the collective vision, values and desires of the employees.
“Running a business is tough and requires long hours. Candidly, I think many people underestimate this and do not have the passion it takes to pull it off long-term,” says Brock. He emphasizes that very few companies become overnight successes, but many companies do overcome significant challenges and defeats to emerge triumphantly. “To me, being successful in business is about more than winning or making a lot of money. It’s about the impact our business is having on our team members and on the customers we serve. That drives everything we do,” he adds.