NEW YORK, New York., May 29, 2020 — CFG Merchant Solutions (“CFGMS”), a leading financier of small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”), announced today that the company is building upon its partnership with Arena Investors, LP (“Arena”), in conjunction with Ceteris Portfolio Services (“Ceteris), an Arena servicing affiliate, in servicing and providing liquidity to Platinum Rapid Funding’s (“PRF”) merchant portfolio. CFGMS has been a leading capital provider to SMEs and an originator of advances to growing merchants, providing in excess of $400 million merchant cash advances since 2015. Arena has been CFGMS’s primary capital partner since 2016.
CFGMS and Arena are determined to prioritize the needs of PRF’s existing customers in the wake of the COVID-19 crises and its resulting impact on small businesses across the country.
“Arena is pleased to continue its partnership with CFGMS and its senior management team consisting of CEO, Andrew Coon, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, Robert Martini, and President, William Gallagher. Together, we remain deeply committed to serving the needs of PRF’s existing customers, particularly for ongoing financing and liquidity needs in an environment when even much larger businesses struggle to attract capital,” said Victor Dupont, who leads Arena’s investments in the financing of the SME sector. “We welcome further involvement with PRF’s customers and their affiliated ISOs and are committed to working collaboratively with all throughout the COVID-19 crises and beyond”.
“Arena and its affiliates have built a reputation as a group that combines uniquely flexible capital with broad-based expertise in servicing, resolutions, and SME finance,” said Coon. “So, while we excel at sourcing, originations, and underwriting, we felt that they brought a critical level of IP and know-how that is uniquely suited to benefit all parties in today’s environment. Combining forces to offer a broader set of servicing solutions to the MCA market segment made complete sense.”
Jonathan Pike, CEO of Ceteris, added: “Ceteris is excited to work with CFGMS and Arena by offering best-in-class servicing strategies and assisting merchants in a difficult economic environment.”
The Small Business Association (“SBA”) estimates that traditional banks still reject approximately 90 percent of SME loan applications. Since 2015, CFGMS has emerged as a proven platform that leverages sales partner relationships, analytics, and proprietary underwriting to provide SMEs with a straightforward and streamlined access to critical funding. The company addresses the fundamental capital needs of SME owners across a broad credit spectrum and through every stage of a business’s life cycle.
SMEs across a wide variety of industries that include restaurants, retail stores, salons, spas, dry cleaners, auto body shops, and professional offices. All of these businesses, and more, rely on CFGMS to secure the necessary capital they need to grow.
For questions or funding solutions, please contact:
– William Gallagher
– (646) 880-3817
– Ryan Banda
– (856) 545-8322
Headquartered in New York, NY, CFGMS specializes in providing financing to support the growth and development of underserved small-to-medium sized businesses that lack access to traditional bank funding. Founded in 2010, CFGMS’s affiliated company, CapFlow Funding Group, provides factoring, purchase order finance, and asset-based lending solutions. CFGMS and CapFlow have together provided over $1 billion in liquidity solutions to their SME clients. For more information please visit www.cfgmerchantsolutions.com
About Arena Investors, LP
Arena Investors is a privately held, SEC-registered, global alternative investment firm which combines mandate flexibility, proprietary sourcing and systems-plus-servicing to enable solutions for those seeking capital. The firm was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in NewYork with additional offices in Jacksonville, London, and San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.arenaco.com.
About Ceteris Portfolio Services
Ceteris is a nationally licensed servicing company providing debt recovery solutions and other related services for consumers and commercial businesses across a broad range of financial assets. Ceteris provides first- and third-party revenue cycle management, business process outsourcing and portfolio backup servicing to heavily regulated, high volume industries including banking, automotive finance, credit card, equipment leasing, medical, telecommunications, utilities, retail and other industries. For more information please visit www.ceterisholdco.com.
Fora Financial’s announcement yesterday that it acquired a sizable stake in US Business Funding (USBF) will create one of the “largest, broadest reaching direct sales organizations in the small business alternative lending space,” the company said in a statement.
USBF is a direct sales and marketing company of about 40 to 50 people. Fora Financial founder and CEO told deBanked that his company started working with USBF to obtain leads two years ago and that this acquisition has been in the works for between 12 to 18 months.
“We were looking for a team that does direct sales and marketing that complements what we do,” Feldman said. “And they’re one of the best at [direct marketing] in the business.”
USBF is based in Santa Ana, CA, and has connected customers to financing since 2008, with an emphasis originally on equipment financing. In 2012, they started facilitating working capital deals and that now makes up 85 percent of the company’s business, according to its CEO Peter Ribeiro.
They provide financing solutions ranging from $10,000 to $10 million. Fora Financial, also established in 2008, is a New York-based funding company that funds MCA deals and provides small business loans up to $500,000.
Consistent with yesterday’s announcement, Feldman said that with Fora Financial and USBF combined, they will likely originate $400 million year. Feldman told deBanked today that, of this amount, about $300 million should come from direct sales.
“We’re more heavily weighted towards direct sales,” Feldman said.
Formerly a company of 100, the new entity will now include about 150 employees and will share resources like capital, technology and access to help with compliance, Feldman said. USBF will retain its name, location and all of its employees.
“We wouldn’t have done this deal unless Peter [USBF founder and CEO] and his team agreed to stay on,” Feldman said. “They have a fantastic brand and we want to avoid getting in their way. We just want to help them to continue doing what they do.”
Feldman said that while USBF will retain its name, “we’re now a combined entity with an east and west coast operation.”
Fora Financial acquired USBF because it did something unique, and Feldman said that Fora is looking for opportunities to acquire other companies that do uniques things in the financing space.
Highly Experienced Executive Team Offers Flexible Financing Options to Small Businesses
New York City – November 2, 2017 – 6th Avenue Capital, LLC (“6th Avenue Capital”), a leading provider of small business financing solutions, announced today its securement of a $60 million commitment from a large institutional investor. The investor made their commitment based on 6th Avenue Capital’s industry-leading underwriting, compliance standards and processes. 6th Avenue Capital will draw from this commitment to offer merchant cash advances to small businesses through its nationwide network of Independent Sales Organizations (“ISOs”) and other strategic partnerships, such as banks and small business associations.
6th Avenue Capital launched formal operations in 2016 to help finance small businesses that are often ineligible for funding due to traditional underwriting criteria. 6th Avenue Capital evaluates each application for funding individually and keeps the merchant’s short and long-term needs in mind including, most importantly, what they can afford. 6th Avenue Capital also understands that small businesses may need funding quickly. The company’s data-driven underwriting processes, expertise and technology can give the merchant secure and equitable approvals of qualified requests and funding within hours.
Leading the team, CEO Christine Chang oversees all strategic aspects of 6th Avenue Capital. She also serves as COO to sister company Nexlend Capital Management, LLC. She brings more than 20 years experience in institutional asset management, including alternative lending. Previously, Chang served as Chief Compliance Officer at Alternative Investment Management, LLC, COO at New York Private Bank & Trust and Vice President at Credit Suisse. She serves on the board of Blueprint Capital Advisors, LLC and Bottomless Closet, a not-for-profit empowering economic self-sufficiency in disadvantaged NYC women.
“Our mission at 6th Avenue Capital is to help small businesses grow, and we continue to expand our existing network of ISO and strategic partners to ensure these businesses have access to capital in hours,” said Chang. “Our leadership team of financial industry experts has extensive experience navigating multiple economic cycles. We know how to serve merchants and how to deliver quickly while meeting the highest operational standards for our investors.”
COO Darren Schulman joined the team in March 2017. Schulman is a 20-year veteran of the alternative finance and banking industries. He is responsible for oversight of 6th Avenue Capital’s origination, underwriting, operations and collections, as well as strategic initiatives. Schulman served previously as COO at Capify (formerly AmeriMerchant), a global small business financing company, and President and CFO at MRS Associates, a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company specializing in collections. In addition, Schulman was an Executive Vice President at MTB Bank.
“We form strong relationships with the merchant and consider it essential for our underwriters to speak to every merchant, on every deal, regardless of its size,” said Schulman. “We also make our underwriters available for discussions with ISOs whenever necessary. We are proud to offer competitive volume-based commissions, buyback rates and white label solutions.”
About 6th Avenue Capital, LLC
6th Avenue Capital is changing the small business financing landscape by offering a data-driven underwriting process and fast access to capital. The company employs a unique blend of industry experts and is committed to the highest operating standards, high touch merchant service, including a policy of direct merchant access to underwriters. 6th Avenue Capital is a sister company of Nexlend Capital Management, LLC, a fintech investment management firm founded in 2014 and focused on marketplace lending (consumer loans). For more information, visit www.6thavenuecapital.com.
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Alternative funders have had a roller coaster 2017 with highs and lows that will likely be remembered as a high-stakes time for the industry, one in which the rubber met the road for many and the market landscape shifted for everyone from funders, to merchants to brokers.
Three C-Suite executives in the alternative funding space — Christine Chang, CEO of 6th Avenue Capital, Heather Francis, CEO of Elevate Funding and Torrie Inouye, National Funding president — spoke with deBanked, offering their take on some of the industry shakeups, direction of the alt lending space and upcoming developments at their respective companies.
All three execs are embracing what appears to be shaping up as a bigger and better 2018 with plans on the horizon for new products, relationships and deals but also where there could be further shakeout as the shift in the industry landscape takes hold.
6th Avenue Capital, provides short-term funding to merchants that Chang describes as “high touch, high tech and fast.” The company is building an SEC RIA compliant infrastructure as Chang believes that MCA regulation will take place over the next several years. Chang said she is sympathetic to the banks and the onerous rules that they must follow, and whatever form the industry regulation eventually takes on, the company will be ready for.
A recent story in The Wall Street Journal points to community banks comprised of those with less than $10 billion in assets historically funding local merchants in what’s dubbed character-based lending. As the name suggests, the underwriting standard for the loans was tied to the character of the business owner, which the lender knew based on personal relationships in their own communities.
The financial crisis gave rise to greater regulation, driving a spike in that model and the rest is history. Small banks were forced to direct their resources toward risk management and compliance instead of adding more personnel to service loans. The WSJ quotes a small business lender that bears repeating: “When they created too big to fail, they also created too small to succeed.”
When that door closed, however, another one opened, creating the opportunity for alt lenders to service a niche that was getting left out in the cold.
“The alternative funding industry is here to stay. That’s good news for MCA and fintech in general. There’s a need for fast funding and there will continue to be a trend toward that,” said Chang.
Banks, meanwhile, have started coming to the fintech table to compete for deals. “We’re in the process of speaking to a number of banks, some quite large and some regional, that have expressed an interest. We think this is a great opportunity for them. The idea is that we’d help them to serve a population of clients that they would not otherwise be able to serve,” said Chang.
6th Avenue has had discussions about white labeling and customizing the platform for institutions. “We would run everything for them,” said Chang.
In addition to possible new banking relationships, 6th Avenue Capital, backed by a private family and institutional investors, will expand the business model to include more investors on its platform. “We are in discussions with a number of significant international investors. It’s in the works. We’re building an institutional infrastructure, so it was always contemplated,” she said.
Elevate Funding, whose is 100% referral-based and whose product suite is comprised of a trio of MCA solutions, is coming up on its three-year anniversary in December.
“When I created Elevate, I did it with the purpose of providing a product to high-risk merchants. That’s who we deal with. We’re not dealing with credit scores. There is a level of risk to who we work with. Elevate was created to provide a product that is going to fit their needs and also provide a product that doesn’t treat them like they’re high risk. That’s who we are,” said Francis.
Gainesville, FL-based Elevate recently hired Michael Gaura to spearhead a new MCA product that the company is rolling out in 2018. Francis held the details of the new funding product close to the vest, but she did offer her views on the direction of the MCA and alternative lending space.
“I see difficulty in the coming years, especially in 2018, for qualified lead flow. You have a lot of big banks that are getting into this industry. And that’s a lot of marketing dollars that you’re competing against.”
She points to JPMorgan Chase, American Express, Square and PayPal, saying they are “huge marketing dollar companies” with tremendous access to customers on their respective platforms.
“There’s going to be a shakeout of what can you reach, who can you reach, can you get them the first time? How do you engage them to where they only want to work with you and they’re not submitting 20 applications for every website they come across?”, Francis said.
San Diego, Calif.-based National Funding is a balance sheet lender whose primary product is loans, not MCAs. The broker factor has changed significantly for the lender in a very positive way this year. “We’re really seeing sizeable growth in our broker channel in 2017 and have designed a strong and consistent process for our broker clients” Inouye said. The leads have been driven by a variety of factors, not the least of which comes down to CAN Capital and Bizfi’s loss being National Funding’s gain.
“That’s a factor we can’t ignore. The broker community has rewarded us for being consistent and building those relationships and being a partner to them,” Inouye said. “We definitely saw an uptick in business when they left the space. I can say we’ve continually experienced sizeable growth in our broker channel year over year but 2017 was beyond what we had expected. It surpassed other years.”
Incidentally, National Funding was one of the earliest alt funders on the scene along with CAN Capital in the 1990s. CAN’s fate started unraveling about this time a year ago.
“It’s not positive when you see that happen in the industry. However, we are really focused on what we’re doing and the decisions we’re making internally. I think that’s why we’ve consistently had profitable growth over the years. We’ve stayed true to our underwriting principles and the market seems to have rewarded us. We were consistent and not erratic. Brokers know they can rely on us and feel confident that we would quickly fund their deal once we issued an approval,” said Inouye.
The Broker Effect
Elevate, a balance sheet funder, relies on outside brokers and referrals for deals. “I don’t find it a disadvantage for us not having an internal sales team. A lot of companies in this space have the ability for a chief marketing officer who focuses entirely on leads. Elevate isn’t there yet. Will we be there in five years? Maybe. Marketing can change by that time,” Francis said.
6th Avenue Capital welcomes relationships with brokers as well. “We have an in-house business development team that works with brokers. 6th Avenue Capital is also considering direct sales in niche strategies in its future,” said Chang.
6th Avenue Capital has a starter program in which there are no guarantees but considers businesses that have been in existence for less than a year and businesses with credit scores of 500 or more. Plus, they’re willing to do consolidations up to two advances.
In addition, 6th Avenue Capital is open to offering financing to brokers. “It’s really good in that there is an alignment of interests and allows brokers to participate in the deals they put forth. If they think the merchant is credit worthy and a terrific opportunity, they participate. Everyone has skin in the game and interests are aligned,” Chang said.
While technology is at the core of fintech, all three of the companies take a hybrid approach when it comes to credit underwriting comprised of a tech platform and the human touch, which perhaps keeps character-based lending alive in some form.
With respect to fintech, “6th Avenue Capital’s philosophy is that technology is a tool to supplement human underwriting. We use technology to detect fraud, manage workload processes and manage risk. We do not use technology to make our final decisions,” said Chang.
Specifically, 6th Avenue Capital benefits from research, artificial intelligence and predictive technology of its sister company Nexlend Capital. 6th Avenue Capital has customized Nexlend’s consumer lending algorithmic intellectual property, which uses machine learning and credit analysis with high speed execution to make better and faster decisions.
Elevate also takes a dual-approach to its underwriting process. “I believe in a hybrid method. You have to have someone looking at it, to have eyes on the paper at some point in the process. This doesn’t mean a computer system can’t help to weed out what might not meet the criteria, but I do believe there needs to be a person reviewing the files,” Francis said.
National Funding was started as an equipment leasing company. “We apply some principles we learned as a leasing company and take into account all of the attributes that go into that business in addition to FICO and cash flow,” Inouye said.
Automation is an area of technology that they continue to look to for innovation and process efficiencies. “We do serve our customers online, but we also provide a human contact as well. We deliver a loan experience that builds trust and confidence with customers. We try to deliver on what our customers want in the most efficient way,” said National Funding’s Inouye.
National Funding continues to look at construction deals and accepts them as a niche in their portfolio, which Inouye said differentiates the company. “It allows us to be more flexible and comfortable with certain industries that other lenders might stay away from.”
2017 has been a roller coaster year for fintech including alt funders. While there have been plenty of bright spots, there was also some fallout that left veteran players scrambling to salvage either their reputation, status as a funder or both.
SoFi has been at the center of controversies that resulted in the Mike Cagney leaving his chairman post with plans to step down as CEO. Most recently, the lender has removed its application for a bank charter, according to reports.
We asked Elevate’s Francis about it. “SoFi is a very big company. They’re to the level where the CEO has people to answer to. They have a checks and balances system they need to go through,” said Francis. “It worked, and they removed him.”
Francis maintains an open-door policy with her employees, and she says all you can do is focus on your house and keep your house in order. “My door is always open. That’s our office policy. They use that quite frequently; it’s a catch 22,” she said with a laugh.
Fintech and Diversity
Something else that all three executives have in common is that they are all women in top roles in fintech, an industry that isn’t known for its diversity.
6th Avenue’s Chang’s career includes working at a large institutional bank for six years. Out of 200 professionals, only four of them in her group were women. “At the end of the day, performance is the best differentiator. If you perform well, it presents unique opportunities. At 6th Avenue Capital, diversity is embraced. Our underlying merchants aren’t just one gender or color. Diversity helps us understand the needs of small businesses better, so we can provide fast and customized funding quickly,” she said.
MIAMI, Dec. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Knight Capital Funding, a financial services company dedicated to delivering working capital to small and medium sized businesses in an efficient and transparent manner, announced the hiring of Alex Kondratyev as its Chief Data Scientist.
Kondratyev had been providing financial consulting to Knight Capital prior to accepting the role of Chief Data Scientist. He will be working out of Knight Capital’s new Silicon Valley office. Prior to joining Knight Capital, Kondratyev worked at Cadence Design Systems, a multinational electronic design automation software and engineering services company, as a senior software Architect. At Cadence he led and managed the scheduling group, which was responsible for a kernel of C-to-Silicon synthesis that involves about 20 man-years of development with more than 100,000 lines of C++ code.
“Alex will be integral to our data modeling in all aspects of our business. His expertise will play a critical role in our underwriting models, giving us the enhanced capabilities to mitigate potential fraud, while also increasing our approval ability to get working capital in the hands of small and medium sized businesses,” said Rich Ferrante, CFO at Knight Capital.
“I was intrigued by the rapid growth and unique technology platform at Knight Capital,” said Kondratyev. “I am very happy to have joined and to be a part of the largest funding and revenue months in the Company’s history, which gives us many data points to enhance the prediction power of our models.”
Kondratyev has been in software design his whole career with a specialization in complex algorithms. He began his career as a professor in Logic Design and Foundations of programming. He then joined Cadence Design Systems where he was a founder of C-to-Silicon synthesis group. Later he moved to Xilinx Inc. and worked as Principal engineer before joining Knight Capital. Kondratyev has a Master’s in Computer Science as well as a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the esteemed Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University in Russia. He holds seven U.S. patents, more than 50 Russian patents, and is co-author of two monographs on asynchronous synthesis with more than 120 conference and journal publications.
About Knight Capital, LLC
Founded in 2013 and with offices in New York, Silicon Valley, Florida, India and Dominican Republic, Knight is a leading financial technology company that provides customized financing solutions to small and medium size businesses in the United States. Knight leverages its leading technology platform to provide solutions to small and medium sized business owners with greater speed and flexibility than in the marketplace. Visit www.knightcapitalfunding.com to learn more.
SOURCE Knight Capital Funding
For Release on MPR / New York (June 26, 2012) – New York City based Strategic Funding (www.sfscapital.com) has announced it has completed a $12 million equity round with an investor group led by Three Layer Capital of Los Angeles, California and simultaneously closed on a new $15 million revolving Senior Credit Facility with Capital One Bank. The new equity and credit facility will be used for ongoing capital needs and to fund the future growth of company.
Strategic Funding is recognized as one of the most innovative companies in the alternative finance industry, providing unique working capital solutions such as merchant cash advance, revenue based factoring (ACH programs) and commercial loans for small businesses. The company’s business model combines sophisticated underwriting incorporating qualitative and quantitative risk analysis with the most advanced enterprise technology available.
“Strategic Funding finances the small to mid-sized businesses of Main Street America” said Andrew Reiser, Chairman and CEO of Strategic Funding. “Since 2006, we have provided thousands of small businesses with the working capital they need to grow and sustain themselves through challenging times. Today’s entrepreneurs have very limited access to bank financing, a void filled by our company and the alternative finance industry – so one might say that we are stimulating the economy, one small business at a time.”
In seeking high yield investment opportunities, Thomas Scoville, a partner at Three Layer Capital stated that, “We were looking for best-of-breed players in the alternative finance space. A lot of companies are currently operating in this arena but few have the disciplines and technology of Strategic. A number of these companies are also beginning to venture into big-data risk analytics, but Strategic has been quietly doing this for years – they’ve got a big head start.” Dan Scholefield, partner in Three Layer Capital added, “Their business model demonstrates remarkably high yields and low default rates while providing financing to traditionally under-banked entrepreneurs. Strategic is very responsive to the needs of the market and economic conditions and provided an outstanding investment opportunity.”
Reiser continued, “We pride ourselves on integrity and responsiveness to the ever changing market and are pleased to welcome our new investors at Three Layer Capital and the team at Capital One Bank.
The Capital One Bank Senior Credit facility replaces the facility provided by Paul Frontier Holdings, which has been a shareholder in Strategic since 2007. Rahul Vaid a managing director of Frontier Capital Advisors, which manages the Paul Frontier Holdings portfolio. He will remain a member of the Board of Directors and his firm will continue their support as a major shareholder of Strategic.
About Strategic Funding
Strategic Funding ( www.sfscapital.com ) is a leading provider of specialty financing to small businesses throughout the United States. Strategic is recognized as the technology leader in servicing the factoring and loan transactions of thousands of merchant accounts for themselves and over one hundred funding partners. The Strategic enterprise technology is at the backbone of the “Strategic Partner” program which promotes syndication among numerous cash advance companies and private investors. Established in 2006, Strategic has its headquarters in New York City and maintains regional offices in Williamsburg, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington, serving thousands of active small business clients in all 50 states.
About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation ( www.capitalone.com ) is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., and ING Bank, fsb, had $216.5 billion in deposits and $294.5 billion in total assets outstanding as of March 31, 2012. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One and ING Direct offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 100 index.
About Three Layer Capital
Three Layer Capital ( www.threelayercapital.com ) is a privately held multidisciplinary fund with focused interests in biotechnology, energy and alternative finance, located in Los Angeles, California.
David C. Sederholt, Chief Operating Officer
Thanks to everyone that attended deBanked’s first ever industry golf outing at Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn, NY. And thank you to all the sponsors who helped make it a success!
- SOS Capital
- Elevate Funding
- Hudson Cook, LLP
- Yellowstone Capital
- Signature Printing & Consulting
- Grassi & Co
- Central Diligence Group
- Sure Funding Solutions
- Unique Funding Solutions
- Imperial Advance
Official photos from the event should be available soon. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram to see them when they come out.
P.S. The inaugural conference for MCA and business loan brokers is COMING SOON. Visit http://brokerfair.org to receive updates on Broker Fair 2018.
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