|01/21/2022||Fountainhead hires ex-SBA District Director|
|06/22/2021||Fountainhead funded $4B+ in PPP|
|11/23/2020||Fountainhead in top 100 SBA lenders|
|09/09/2020||Interview with Fountainhead CEO Chris Hurn|
|02/13/2019||Fountainhead to offer 7a loans|
Interview with Chris Hurn of Fountainhead
Small business lender Fountainhead has hired former US Airforce Veteran and SBA District Director Joseph Amato as their new Senior Vice President. Amato served for four years as the District Director of the SBA’s Nevada District Office prior to taking his new position at FountainHead.
“Joe’s strong work ethic and extensive knowledge base will be an invaluable asset to Fountainhead, as we build on our past success as the largest nonbank SBA lender in the Southeast and execute our nationwide growth strategy,” said Fountainhead CEO and Founder Chris Hurn.
Amato assisted Nevada’s SBA program in the implementation of stimulus programs that helped keep many Nevadan businesses afloat during pandemic-induced lockdowns. Many of these stimulus programs have been credited to keeping places alive, like the businesses on the Las Vegas strip, for example.
“I’m eager to leverage my experience with the SBA and beyond to help Fountainhead drive financing opportunities and support to millions of small businesses across America,” said Amato.
Fountainhead, an Orlando-based SBA lender, funded over $4.72 billion in PPP loans to SMBs in the past 15 months. According to the SBA, the 30 member team facilitated the 12th most PPP loans in the country.
So far in 2021 alone, Fountainhead funded $3.95 billion, after a total of $760 million in 2020, preserving 430,000 American jobs, they estimated.
“We did not shy away from the latest round of PPP. Before it was introduced, we were implementing new procedures and building on what we learned from the first and second rounds in order to create a more streamlined and effective system for our customers,” said CEO and Founder Chris Hurn. “It’s no secret that the past few months have been anything but easy. While our team endured long days and nights with little time to rest, we’re extremely proud to have helped so many small businesses. Our team performed admirably. I’m so very proud of them.”
Fountainhead’s current objective is to process PPP loan forgiveness applications while also refocusing on its core business of SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loans.
Chris Hurn, the CEO of Fountainhead, a national non-bank direct commercial lender based in Lake Mary-FL, recently told deBanked in an interview what his company has experienced in 2020. The company was recently ranked 1,502 on the Inc. 5000 list.
Watch the interview below:
Inc recently dropped the latest annual list of the fastest growing small businesses in the country. These 5,000 businesses span across a range of industries including health, financial, IT services and more. Companies such as Fundomate, Fountainhead, and Business Lending Blueprint have been featured on this year’s list due to incredible growth.
For Sam Schapiro, the grit to grow Fundomate through a pandemic stemmed from a realization he came to years earlier.
“I think one of the best lessons I learned when I launched Fundomate, I was in Las Vegas at a conference to raise money,” Schapiro said. “…and barely anybody looked at us and I literally left with nothing.”
Full of doubt, Schapiro had lunch with someone he respected that had built several successful startups. That mentor told him that despite what he thought, 99.9% of the people pitching their business at the show were going to fail regardless, even if they really wanted success.
“So if you don’t really really really want it, then don’t bother doing it, because your chances of success are so slim,” Schapiro was told. That hard dose of advice led Schapiro to first question how bad he wanted it and he realized he was fully committed to seeing it through.
“I always say that if I knew how long it would take us to get here and how hard it would be to be down this road, I’d never get on the road,” Schapiro said. “But that’s the thing about life in general. Anything worth having and anything worth doing requires consistency and determination. And over and over and over again. So if something’s not working, and you can obviously see it’s not working and it’s clear, you know, the job is to keep looking at it, and at the point where it becomes a clear message that it just doesn’t work, then you got to pivot.”
Fundomate is a white label funding and banking platform for wholesale processors and MCA funders to automate their funding in a scaled way. Schapiro says that success was due in part to their technology, which collects a true daily percentage of a business’s sales.
As the pandemic subsided “we didn’t have to get back on the phone with every merchant and say, ‘Hey, we want to increase our daily payment again’ because we’re not on daily payments, we’re on instant collections that are happening on a daily basis,” Schapiro explained. “As soon as their sales came back up and even grew to get through the 2021 boom, all the sudden collections happen faster.”
Meanwhile, for Chris Hurn, Founder and CEO of Fountainhead, he had to refocus his non-bank small business lending company into a PPP loan operation.
“Pivoting our business solely to do PPP loans over the last two years was a pretty challenging experience,” said Hurn. “And we did, we worked ridiculous hours. I mean I averaged about three to four hours of sleep a night for months at a time every day. So, you know, that was probably the biggest challenge we had.”
But the work paid off. Hurn said that they were one of the most active PPP lenders over the last two years, making approximately 300,000 loans.
“Obviously, that helped accelerate our growth,” said Hurn, “as well as many of our full time hires that we made during that time are still there. And we’re still growing now.”
The process is no walk in the park when it comes to being listed on the Inc 5000. Thousands of companies apply annually to be ranked on the list. It’s months of lengthy paperwork and long-waited verifications. After realizing that one’s company has made the list, they find out their ranking along with the rest of the world.
“It’s a painstaking process because you can’t just apply and claim that you’re a growing company,” said Oz Konar, Founder at Business Lending Blueprint. “Your CPA needs to send them income verification or revenue verification, and all the things need to be documented and signed off on so they can actually prove that you’re a growing company, and you can make it on the Inc 5000.”
The hardest part of newfound success is maintaining it. With massive growth over the past four years, Konar believes growth happens when you have happy customers. Focusing on democratizing the lending space for new and existing brokers has drawn clients into his business.
“When you do things the right way consistently and stay laser focused on one problem, one solution, one product, that’s what brought us to the Inc 5000,” said Konar. “And to our surprise, we were hoping that we were going to be ranking about 1,000, the first 1,000 companies. We ranked in 799. So, it’s such an honor, we’re so happy, and we’re just getting started.”
In the competitive industry of finance that is always changing and rearranging, SMB finance companies may feel pressured to do all things for all people. But sometimes it may be more beneficial to stick to what one is good at. As Hurn can agree, it is much more complicated to compete in every marketplace.
“I think if you as a business, if you’re starting out, you need to definitely focus on a niche you want to attack and try to be the best at that,” said Hurn.
Despite Covid, several small business finance companies successfully secured spots on the 2022 Inc 5000 list for their stellar 3-year revenue growth. Here’s a snapshot of who made it:
|Ranking||Company Name||3 year growth %|
|799||Business Lending Blueprint||793%|
|970||Valiant Business Lending||668%|
|1,240||Lending Science DM||524%|
|1,876||Choice Merchant Solutions||324%|
|2,886||Velocity Capital Group||189%|
The Inc 5000 list requires companies to apply and submit data. Companies that may have qualified to be ranked could have chosen not to apply.
In an effort to promote veteran entrepreneurship, Fountainhead, the nation’s leading SBA 7(a) and 504 non-bank lender, is providing funds to veterans to assist them with closing costs of the deal should they pursue funding through the company.
Fountainhead’s CEO Chris Hurn spoke exclusively to deBanked Wednesday about what Veterans Day means to him, his business, and how giving this group a break on the cost of capital is not just a marketing ploy, but a genuine attempt to give back to an underserved and under-recognized community.
“We have always been very supportive of veterans getting into entrepreneurship,” said Hurn. “[The promotion] is basically us gifting $5,000 on a transaction if they close with us.”
“Oftentimes, that’ll be enough to cover a real estate appraisal, enough to cover the environmental reports, it may be able to cover some of the credit reports, different things like that. We do put a cap on it, we are still a for-profit enterprise, but we are covering up to $5,000 of the closing costs.”
As a lender with more than two decades of experience, Hurn believes that veterans are some of the most trustworthy and reliable business owners to do business with. “Some lenders feel like veterans don’t have business experience, I disagree with that,” he said. “I think the military teaches people to be very organized, very disciplined, which are two critical pieces for entrepreneurship.”
From the lender’s perspective, Hurn believes that it is not only good business practices that military experience can provide, but honesty and creditworthiness when it comes to paying back a loan.
“Veteran business owners tend to be extremely organized, extremely disciplined in terms of operating the business. I’m not saying [non-veteran] business owners don’t have aspects of that, but I think the military does a tremendous job on teaching those character traits, which as a lender I find very helpful to make sure I’m getting repaid.”
According to Hurn, about a fifth of his clients are veterans, and he is hoping to increase that number with this promotion.
“[Veterans] are a very good credit risk, we want to encourage them to get into entrepreneurship, and I think it’s the right thing for the business community to do all they can to help veterans.”
Here’s where alternative small business finance ranks on the Inc 5000 list for 2021:
|2298||Bankers Healthcare Group||186%|
|2628||Channel Partners Capital||155%|
|2893||Central Diligence Group||135%|
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Here’s where fintech and online lending rank on the Inc 5000 list for 2020:
|351||Direct Funding Now||1,297%|
|647||Fund That Flip||724%|
|1229||Smart Business Funding||365%|
|1282||Global Lending Services||349%|
|1502||Fountainhead Commercial Capital||293%|
|1933||Choice Merchant Solutions||218%|
|2466||Bankers Healthcare Group||167%|
|2537||Central Diligence Group||162%|
|3062||Shore Funding Solutions||127%|
|4344||Yalber & Got Capital||76%|
|4509||Expansion Capital Group||70%|
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