The Quiet Innovator: Meet Dean Landis
Have you ever wondered who helped evolve our industry from the boutique “credit card factoring” of yesteryear, to today’s multi-billion dollar Alternative Lending industry? Credit Cash LLC may not be the best known MCA company out there. However, over its ten-year history, its innovations have become industry mainstays. Founded by, Dean Landis, an established asset based lender in 2005, Credit Cash has always focused on larger deals to better credits; but is also largely responsible for many of the important changes that have improved our industry over the years.
Its first, and only slogan, “Our rates are so low, they’re actually loans,” was telling from the start. Well before On Deck and others made loans an alternative to advances, Credit Cash had determined that to attract larger and better credits, rates had to be far lower. With lower rates, a loan structure was more practical in lieu of the then existing true sale structure (innovation #1).
When Dean, Credit Cash’s founder, came up with his concept, he posed it to some of the existing industry leaders. While all were supportive, none thought that the product worked well with the low rates Landis was proposing. Back then, with underwriting a bit more primitive, default rates were typically higher than they are today. A competitor urged Credit Cash to license its underwriting and split funding operation.
What the others didn’t appreciate is that Credit Cash was going to use its decades of asset based lending experience to create a whole new method for providing working capital to SMEs. Dean represents the third generation of his family to own and manage a specialty finance company. His asset based lending firm, Entrepreneur Growth Capital, is one of the best known and highly regarded national commercial finance companies serving small and lower middle market borrowers. First, these would not be purchases of future revenue or credit card receipts. Landis didn’t believe that was actually a tangible object that could be bought and sold. Thus, he chose the loan structure and with it, fixed daily payments (innovation #2).
Next, while most of the MCAs at the time were solely using split funding, Credit Cash required the setup of a lockbox (innovation #3). This allowed each client to keep its on processor (innovation #4), but also gave Credit Cash more control over cash flow as all credit card receipts went through the lockbox, not just a percentage.
At this time in the industry’s evolution, all advances were based on credit card revenue, so clients were typically in food service, hospitality or retail. Early on, Credit Cash got a request from a Burger King franchisee. It was a good prospect, but there wasn’t enough credit card revenue to meet the fixed daily payments. That is when the idea of using an ACH to debit clients’ banks accounts was born (innovation #5). From there, it wasn’t long until both Credit Cash and others realized that this type of lending deserved a far larger audience than the existing marketplace. In fact, whereas restaurants used to be over 50% of Credit Cash’s business, it is now less than 25%.
One other change was in how Credit Cash treated renewals. At the time, clients were required to essentially buy back their existing advances in order to get more funding, thus increasing their costs. Credit Cash not only avoided this practice, but began offering early termination discounts (innovation #6).
Landis claims he is as surprised as anyone at the industry’s growth. While entering its 11th year, Credit Cash has intentionally not grown nearly as much as the other industry veterans. Credit Cash has always been a quality over quantity shop. In fact, they still do all of their underwriting by hand. As their average loan is over $500,000, Landis is hesitant to rely on computers and algorithms. Dean is interested in continuing to build a strong portfolio of borrowers who require additional capital with a creative approach. “Our borrowers appreciate that we are able to think outside of the box and take a hands on approach to underwriting and servicing their loans.”
As for growth, Landis jokingly admits that Credit Cash is often ISOs’ last choice. “Because our rates are so low, so is our commission structure. An ISO may make more money by funding a prospect elsewhere. Although because of the Credit Cash’s ability to fund much larger loans, it is not unheard of for an ISO to earn $100,000 or more from a closed, single transaction.” However, with larger loans, come stronger credits and more savvy borrowers. Landis continues to smile when stating that “a typical Credit Cash borrower would rarely take an MCA at the market rates.” However, ISOs continue to send Credit Cash deals as a funded deal, is better than no deal at all.Last modified: November 1, 2015
Todd Sherer has over twenty years of experience in the financial industry, including over seven years leading business development at Entrepreneur Growth Capital and Credit Cash. During this period, he has structured funding for dozens of small to mid market companies across the country. His efforts have resulted in over $250 million of various types of corporate financings. Prior to Todd’s career in lending he was a Vice President at Smith Barney. Todd plays an active role in his community; he is a former Councilman and currently serves as Treasurer for a Regional Utility Authority and Chairman of his local Planning Board. Todd is married with two children.