Meet the Source: How Jared Weitz and United Capital Source became one of the industry’s fastest growing shopsOctober 23, 2015 | By: Ed McKinley
Jared Weitz came from humble beginnings and nearly settled for a humble fate. But associates say an ordinary, uneventful life wouldn’t have suited him – he works too hard and figures things out too quickly.
Almost ten years ago Weitz, 33, was parking cars to earn money for community college. After finishing at St. Johns University, he almost made plumbing his career. But now he’s CEO of United Capital Source LLC, an alternative-finance brokerage with deal flow of between $9 million and $10 million a month and an annual growth rate of over 65 percent.
Business associates, former bosses and his small cadre of employees all seem to revere Weitz for his honesty and straightforwardness. They consider him a personal friend. They say he continues to grow as a businessman and as a human being while taking pleasure in helping others do the same.
Geographically, Weitz has the good fortune to know where he belongs – the city of New York is in his DNA. “Every time I fly back,” he said, “I’m so happy to land.”
His love affair with the city began in Brooklyn. He was born there and raised in a Brighton Beach apartment in the shadow of Coney Island. When he was 16, the family moved to Oceanside on Long Island.
As the second of six children, Weitz had to come up with the money for college on his own. “My older sister and I had to pay our way,” he said. “Everybody else, my dad was able to cover.” He started school at Nassau Community College, selling cell phones and parking cars at night.
But then came an abrupt change. Once Weitz saved enough money, he transferred to Tulane University in New Orleans to pursue a relationship with a woman who was finishing her studies there. He attended classes part-time, worked as the athletic director at the Jewish Community Center, tended bar in a Mexican restaurant and served summonses for a law firm.
The relationship with the woman fizzled, but Weitz made lasting friendships during his days down south. His old roommate in New Orleans, who now practices law in Atlanta, serves as counsel for United Capital Source.
When Weitz had been in New Orleans for two years, Hurricane Katrina struck. He evacuated to Houston, where he stayed in a Holiday Inn for two weeks before realizing he wouldn’t be able to return to southern Louisiana anytime soon. The magnitude of the devastation was just too great.
Shouldering the duffel bag of belongings he had managed to pack on his back during the evacuation, he returned to New York, enrolled in St. John’s University and began working in sales for Honda Financial Services and parking cars.
Weitz had started school expecting to become a teacher. He had grown up with younger siblings and liked leadership roles, which convinced him teaching would be a good fit.
Still, many of his college jobs had required him to sell. As a bartender, for example, he promoted drink specials. As an athletic director he convinced people to sign up for classes. “Everything that I took to naturally wound up being in the sales, marketing and finance arena,” Weitz observed.
When he was nearly finished at St. John’s, Weitz was parking a car for an acquaintance who offered him a job as a union plumber. Suddenly, he was making $27 an hour and had health benefits. “It was a big breather for me,” Weitz recalled.
He quit his three jobs and labored as a plumber from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. School started at 3:30 p.m. for him and stretched into the evening. But when he finished his degree, working as a teacher for $35,000 to $40,000 a year no longer seemed attractive.
Besides, his plumbing work didn’t center on toilets. On typical commercial plumbing jobs he did things like install air, medical and gas lines in hospitals. He was reading blueprints and bidding for jobs. A promotion to foreman didn’t seem that far off.
At about the same time, near the end of 2006, a friend, Mike Caronna, landed a job at Bizfi, formerly known as Merchant Cash and Capital (MCC), The company, which had just started and had only a few employees, was looking for underwriters.
As fate would have it, Weitz fell into a conversation with a fellow union plumber, one who had been on the job for 30 years. The older man reminded him that his wages would never climb much higher than they were right now. The veteran plumber then showed the younger man his hands, bent from decades of holding tools. “That got me thinking,” Weitz said.
He asked his friend Caronna to arrange a job interview at MCC. He got an offer and took a 90-day leave from his plumbing job to give the world of finance a try. “After about two weeks, I knew it was for me,” he said of the alternative-finance industry. It was by then the beginning of 2007.
Weitz excelled as an underwriter, and the company CEO, Stephen Sheinbaum, picked him and four others for a sales contest. Sheinbaum gave them some leads and turned them loose. Weitz won the competition but asked his boss to help him gain experience in business development and operations before taking on a sales position.
Sheinbaum was happy to comply. “He is one of the best and the brightest in the space,” he said of Weitz.
So, at age 25, Weitz found himself building a business development department by cultivating relationships with ISOs and persuading them to send business to MCC. “It was amazing,” he said of those days. “That was a big opportunity.”
Weitz learned the mechanics of the business. He found that the right ISO can originate good deals and a bad ISO can ruin deals. He learned the politics of when to talk, when to remain silent and when to let someone vent.
Then Weitz and a good friend at MCC, Anthony Giuliano – who’s now managing partner of Sure Payment Solutions – worked out how they could improve the MCC sales effort. They pitched Sheinbaum on the idea of having a second internal sale force, and that led to the birth of Next Level Funding (NLF), a division of MCC.
Weitz and Giuliano each owned 10 percent of NLF, and MCC owned 80 percent. “I’m 26, about to be 27, and I’m like, ‘You did it, Man,’” Weitz said as he looked back.
After about four months, NLF absorbed MCC’s original sales division. Next, Giuliano and another executive, Paul Giuffrida, decided to leave MCC. Weitz felt torn. He felt an allegiance to Giuliano and respected Giuliano’s knowledge of programming – a subject that was alien to him. Yet Sheinbaum had provided Weitz a series of opportunities.
Weitz stayed at MCC but felt he deserved to become chief sales officer. When that didn’t happen, he sold his shares back to the company at a dramatically reduced price to extricate himself from a non-compete clause and set off to start United Capital Source (UCS).
With a five-figure investment, Weitz and his then partner, started UCS in January of 2011 in a 250-square-foot office in Long Beach, L.I. Weitz invested about 90 percent of the money he had saved while working at MCC.
Jon Baum left NLF with Weitz and became the first UCS employee. Within a week or two, Danielle Rivelli, left NLF to join UCS, and Weitz put the remaining 10 percent of his savings into the business to meet the expanded payroll. Today, Baum and Rivelli are UCS sales managers.
The first month UCS was open, it funded $240,000 in deals. “It just felt good to be on my own and start funding deals,” Weitz said. From the beginning of UCS, he won praise from funders for bringing them the right kind of deals with merchants who were likely to repay.
“He really has the pulse of the marketplace and what a lender is looking for,” said Todd Sherer, who handles business development for Entrepreneur Growth Capital. “He doesn’t waste time giving you transactions that don’t fit in your box.”
That’s because doing things right means a lot to Weitz. “He is one of the most straightforward, honest, high-integrity people I have met in the industry,” said Steven Mandis, adjunct associate professor at the Columbia University Business School and chairman of Kalamata Capital LLC.
He’s won the OnDeck seal of approval. “OnDeck has a rigorous and extensive background check process as part of our broker certification process,” said Paul Rosen, OnDeck’s chief sales officer. “Jared Weitz and United Capital have passed our screens and process and are currently active brokers for OnDeck.”
And with time, Weitz has learned patience. He was sometimes short with funders when he started his company but has matured into a pleasant person to deal with, said Heather Francis, CEO of Elevate Funding. “I’ve seen that growth with him,” she said.
All of those good qualities soon came together to help UCS succeed. Within four months of its launch, the company rented a 1,500-square-foot office in Garden City and hired two more people. Next came a 3,200-square-foot office in Rockville Centre and three more employees.
“The company was growing and gaining traction,” Weitz recalled. “I bought out my original partner.” Since then, Vincent Pappalardo has invested in UCS and become a minority partner.
Meanwhile, the lease was expiring on Long Island, and Weitz felt the time had come to move to Manhattan. That would enable the company to draw employees from throughout the region and not just Long Island.
“We decided to bite the bullet and pay the excess money to move to the city because we believed it would be better for the business,” Weitz said. He added two people and rented a 5,500-square-foot space near Penn Station in the Garment District in September of 2014.
Within three months of making the move to Manhattan, business doubled. “Being in a faster-paced environment caused the business to go through another growth phase,” he said. After nine months in the city, UCS is now taking over a whole 8,500-square-foot floor of the same building.
UCS remains a small shop in terms of headcount with 21 people, but the company’s funding numbers equal the output of many brokerages five times its size. Twelve of the UCS employees work in sales, with the others engaged mainly in underwriting, operations and customer service.
Less than 2 percent of UCS’s funding volume comes from broker business. “We self-generate all of our business,” Weitz said, declining to elaborate too much on his company’s marketing efforts.
“My salespeople – bar none – are the best in the industry,” he claimed. “Much like the Navy has the SEALS and the Army has the Rangers, there are groups in the industry that can do triple or quadruple what other people do because that’s just the way they are.” His people fund an average of $750,000 per month per person in new business, while his renewals reps fund well into the 7-figure range per person.
UCS salespeople achieve their results because they have detailed knowledge of the industry, Weitz said. The staff’s understanding of alternative finance doesn’t end with sales but also includes underwriting and finance, he noted. “That’s what makes you a very good and knowledgeable sales rep,” he maintained.
His salespeople don’t just tell a client what he or she wants to hear. They take the time to understand the client’s financial situation. “They know how to read a profit and loss statement, a balance sheet and tax returns,” Weitz said.
ARE THE BEST IN THE INDUSTRY”
While 90% of Weitz’s sales team has a college degree, most of the salespeople have come from outside the industry, he said, noting that one was with Sleepy’s, the mattress company. Another was selling memberships at a gym, one worked for a credit card processing company, two were barbers and one had just graduated from college.
UCS doesn’t make double-digit commissions because the company isn’t over-charging merchants, Weitz maintained. The company does not obtain excess funding that a customer can’t afford or increase the factor rate to dangerous levels, he noted.
“You’re not really helping the merchant” by providing too much capital, Weitz asserted. “You’re sucking the blood out of him before he goes away. That’s not why I’m in business.”
A clean record will also prove beneficial when federal regulation comes to the industry, he said. Integrity in the workplace can also spill over into other parts of a person’s life, Weitz believes.
As UCS grew larger and Weitz grew older, he saw his employees rent their first apartments and then buy their first homes. He learned then that he had taken on more responsibility than was apparent to him at first.
To accommodate the employees he added a human relations department and commissioned a company handbook. He’s also started marketing, finance, operations and other departments.
He’s lost only four employees because he pays them well, respects their time and doesn’t view their youth as a liability.
Meanwhile, talking daily to merchants and hearing about their heartaches and triumphs has humbled and matured Weitz. Seeing how the merchants’ choices panned out or fell short also shaped him and helped him grow up a little, he said.
Weitz has found time in his 70-hour workweek to meet his future bride. They’re planning to wed next year, and he plans to invite his entire staff. “It wouldn’t feel right without them,” he said.
Weitz has skipped the Ferrari, Rolls Royce and mansion because he didn’t feel he needed them. But even without those status symbols, it’s clear that Weitz has avoided settling for a humble fate.
As for what comes next, UCS is said to be developing an online marketplace to take their business to the next level, though Weitz declined to provide specific details about how it will work. “We’re on pace to do more than $100 million worth of deals a year,” Weitz said. “And as far as we’ve come, I feel like this is still just the beginning.”