Dedicated Commercial Recovery combined modern tech and marketing, as the company released a live action virtual tour of their new offices via drone on Tuesday. The video showcased staff working in an upbeat, positive, one might dare say fun, environment.
The YouTube video is now the company’s most ever watched on their channel.
“We shot that video like eight times,” said Shawn Smith, Chairman and CEO of Dedicated Commercial Recovery. “It was such a cool concept, a way to showcase the new office,” he said.
Smith said the goal of the video was to show that his company’s staff was more than just debt collectors. “We want to show the outside world our culture,” said Smith. “Our team loved it.”
Filmed by Sky Candy Studios, drone marketing is an emerging concept in the world of promoting business.
Smith, who sits on several non-profit boards, wants to use the concept of drone marketing in his ventures outside of his collections company too. “I’m going to talk to the boards and associations I’m a part of, we would love to shoot events [this] way,” said Smith.
The video was also dedicated to the passing of a recent employee of Smith’s. Aubin Davis passed in mid-July and was commemorated at the conclusion of the video. “He was an industry veteran,” said Smith. “We wanted to honor him.”
The legalization of cannabis across the U.S. has exposed an interesting opportunity for banks and small business lenders. With tons of capital, insane amounts of cash flow, and an industry outlook that couldn’t be better, banks and lenders should be swarming in droves to get their hands on a piece of the legal marijuana action. Seemingly a match made in heaven, lenders and cannabis cultivators are running into some serious trouble when it comes to how the cash crop operators manage their businesses’ finances.
“We had too much cash to keep in one place,” said Charles Ball, the owner of Ball Family Farms, a wholesale grow operation based in Los Angeles. By stashing cash in different safe-houses around LA, Ball had to operate his completely legitimate and legal business like an illegal operation. “Traditional banking wasn’t an option for us,” Ball said.
“We used to drive the cash around,” said Ball. For recent renovations of lighting fixtures, Ball had to pay $125,000 in cash to the company who did the service for him. Ball also paid taxes in cash, a process in which he had to walk into a Los Angeles government building with $40,000 cash on his person. At the time, there was no bank that was willing to hold the cash for him — even for tax purposes.
Prior to going fully cash, Ball did do business with some big banks, but he realized quickly that they weren’t interested in servicing his cash upon learning what his business was doing.
“They closed my account for wearing a shirt with my business name on it, they put two and two together,” said Ball, when referencing the closing of two accounts with Bank of America and Chase after representatives of the banks saw him wearing his company shirt to make deposits. One of the biggest difficulties of running a cannabis distributor isn’t the growing or the distribution of the product, it’s what to do with the money, according to Ball.
“We had no way of banking,” he said, up until February of this year, when he was able to secure his first type of deposit account with a local bank in the Los Angeles area that was fully aware of what his business was doing. “I have to pay more fees, and I don’t get the same type of customer service, everything is different,” Ball said.
With service fees on his deposit account between $2,000-$3,000 per month, the security of doing business with a bank must be worth the price. When pursuing a loan with that bank to expand his operation however, the lending process was halted at the last second after federal regulators told the bank they wouldn’t allow the deal to go through.
“We were denied on the approval date [of the loan],” said Ball. According to him, the bank told him the FDIC stepped in and killed the deal. Once again, Ball Family Farms was forced to explore other options outside of banking, such as exploring renovation options through landlords or simply waiting until the cash is on hand to make the move. “The banking system in this industry is very flawed,” said Ball.
“We’ve never taken private investor money,” Ball said when asked about whether he had explored any other avenues of receiving a loan. “We took [the start] slowly and it works, we are a ground up operation.”
This problem is not unique to Ball Family Farms. Legal cannabis cash flow has been a major issue since legalization first took place in the states. It seems like local governments want the tax revenue, but the bank’s regulators want to make it difficult for lenders to get their hit off the cash pipe until the federal government changes the law on their end.
The opportunity for funding in the industry isn’t going unnoticed however, as cannabis-exclusive funders and brokers are beginning to pop up across the U.S.
Judy Rinkus, for example, CEO of Seed to Sale Funding, is a Michigan based broker who works exclusively with cannabis businesses.
“[The industry’s] biggest problem is simply finding a lender who isn’t prohibited from lending to cannabis-related concerns,” said Rinkus. According to her, one of the biggest issues is the infancy of the industry, as many cannabis wholesalers and retailers just haven’t been around long enough to be reliable borrowers.
“Most businesses have been established for 3 years or less, they haven’t kept good financial records, and accept a lot of cash payments, and they lack sufficient collateral,” Rinkus said.
Rinkus stressed the importance that real estate plays in giving cannabis businesses borrowing power. “Having real estate to pledge as collateral is key,” she said. “There are ways to get other types of loans, but they are often enormously expensive and are limited to no more than 10% of an entity’s historic revenues.”
Rinkus’ outlook on the industry remains positive, and she remains a supporter despite the difficulties associated with cannabis lending. “Businesses in this space are the true American entrepreneurs,” said Rinkus. “In many areas of the country, they are creating jobs and wealth for folks that would otherwise not have the same chances.”
The outlook on the industry is bright. More states are pushing for legalization, social taboo of marijuana is relatively nil, and the potential of an untapped industry in the eyes of both government and banking are becoming too good to pass up. As the industry begins to cultivate its presence, look for the money surrounding cannabis to creep its way into fintech sooner than later.
As the year ends, lenders and funders across the globe are looking to meet goals, help businesses, and close the books on some of the most unpredictable months the industry has ever seen. Whether it comes to improving technology, hiring more staff, or creating completely new concepts on how to do business, any company worth its salt isn’t just going to be content with just staying stagnant.
“Our main goal for this year’s end is to scale our small business loan and MCA deal flow in order to maximize our syndication opportunities, which we want to overtake commission as our primary revenue stream,” said Zack Fiddle, President of CapFront. “We’ve already built a robust CRM and marketing automation system over the past year, we have great people and a proven process and product, and we just moved to a much larger space.”
From a brand-new office in Garden City, Fiddle seems to be expanding his company on multiple fronts. “The next step for us is hiring more support staff and more account managers to handle more leads from increased media [spending] and more referrals from our various business development channels,” he said.
Other fintech brands are looking to come up with new ideas surrounding borrowing. “We are coming out with a special lawyer loan,” said Justin Leto, co-founder and CEO of Miami-based Idea Financial, whose recent announcement about LevelEsq will allow the firm to divi out loans to attorneys who wait to get paid until when —or if — their client wins. “We’ll have the only insurance product that is available on the market that will cover the downside risk that the case [the attorney] is borrowing on goes to trial and loses.”
“It’s a really exciting time here at Idea Financial because we are able to leverage a lot of our existing resources and expertise to enter an entirely new market, which is legal lending,” said Larry Bassuk, co-Founder and President of Idea Financial.
Other firms are taking the current political and social climates into consideration when it comes to their end-of-year plans. “[We’ll] be analyzing risk a little more in case there is another lockdown,” said Drew Matthew, CEO of Infusion Capital Group. The two-person firm doesn’t plan to expand their staff too much going into the new year, but Matthew did flirt with the idea of bringing on an ISO-rep as his business expands.
“I think we’re going to pick up dramatically,” said Matthew when asked about the number of his future clients. “Once there’s no more [covid restrictions], SBA money, or no more fear of another pandemic shutdown, no matter what [we charge], the small businesses in America need us.”
This risk and surrounding political climate have no influence on the location of Infusion Capital’s offices in the future. “I know everyone is going down to Florida, but not us,” said Matthew. “New York or nowhere, baby.”
As seasons change and the year ticks its final months, lenders, much like the businesses they support, are looking to find the next best way to edge out competitors while offering the best product and services for their customers.
Facebook is the latest tech company to enter the small business financing space. Starting October 1st, Facebook will begin offering eligible American businesses the opportunity to sell their invoice receivables for cash upfront. The only cost is a 1% fee of the A/R and invoices can be as small as $1,000.
Dubbed Facebook Invoice Fast Track, a promotional video touts it as a solution to cash flow challenges.
The caveat is that it will only be open to businesses owned by minorities, females, veterans, LGBTQ+ or someone with a certified disability. Also, the invoices must be issued to a corporation or government entity with an investment-grade rating. An outstanding invoice from something like “Joe’s corner t-shirt shop” for example, would not be eligible.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg predicts the company will be funding $100 million in invoices on an ongoing basis.
That’s not all, however. The company is also introducing a new small business loan resource through an arrangement with Connect2Capital. Facebook claims that in doing so, it is not “brokering” loans.
The developments may not be all that unsurprising given Facebook’s recent foray into India’s small business loan market.
Aquila Services Inc, a data-driven small business cash flow management platform, ceased operations sometime early last year, deBanked has learned. The company had been trying to pivot even before the pandemic began. CEO and Founder Taariq Lewis, who had spoken about AI and machine learning at some length to us in 2018, updated the company’s website with the bad news.
Aquila is now closed for business and we have shut down our servers after a three year run. Thanks to all our 9,688 customers and our many investors for allowing us to provide cash flow analysis for small businesses.
If you are seeking business funding, please be sure to check our partners at Rapid Finance, Credibly, Kabbage, and others for access to capital and please check with Home Depot for discounts on construction equipment.
Lewis is now listed as a co-founder of UniFi DAO, according to LinkedIn.
Ever since Ready Capital’s name arrived on the big stage for its leading role in the nation’s PPP lending, the company has continued to be very active in small business lending. They completed round 2 of the PPP program with $2.2B in loans to more than 72,000 small businesses. For comparison’s sake, that’s twice what PayPal contributed, who provided $1B to 43,000 businesses.
Ready Capital is the #1 non-bank in the nation in 7(a) SBA loan originations this year so far, according to John Moser, President of the company’s SBA lending division, and is #7 in the entire SBA lending industry nationwide.
Some of the technology behind their success can be attributed to Knight Capital, the company Ready acquired back in 2019. Knight has enabled the company to roll out offerings of SBA loans under $350,000, which it is using to grow its already impressive marketshare.
Speaking about Knight, Ready Capital CEO Thomas Capasse said in the Q2 earnings call, the “[Knight] investment will be levered into more technology affinity-based expansion of the SBA business.”
Overall, the company is optimistic. “Ready Capital is off to a strong start in 2021,” Capasse said during the call. “We have accomplished much in the first quarter of the year with our small balance commercial or SBC, CRE lending operations and Small Business Administration or SBA 7(a) lending businesses, posting record originations, including high volume in round two of the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP.”
Knight’s merchant cash advance business is combined with its small business lending division for quarterly reporting purposes so its individual stats are not easily ascertainable. The company still touts “same day business funding” on its website.
Iwoca, a UK-based small business lender, announced Wednesday that it will be launching a new flexible loan product for online sellers through Funding Xchange. According to Iwoca, they will be the first lender in the UK using “open banking” for revenue-based payments to online businesses on the marketplace.
Small businesses in the UK operating in e-commerce can now apply for revenue-based financing between £1,000- £50,001 through Funding Xchange’s website. The loans will have monthly payments based on the borrower’s revenue, but will also allow businesses to choose repayment options that are based upon their daily ups and downs, allowing the borrower different payment amounts during times of slow business, seasonal disruptions, or other factors that may cause business to halt during certain times of the year.
“Our vision is to provide finance to SMEs when, where and how they need it. We are transforming small business lending through product innovation powered by technology, combined with creative distribution partnerships,” said Christoph Rieche, co-founder and CEO of Iwoca in a company release.
Iwoca has a history of being on the front line of innovation in lending, as they claim to be the first UK company to provide instant credit decisions with Amazon and eBay sellers. The company also claims to be the first company to offer a lending API in their services, while also taking credit for being the first SME lender to connect the 9 largest banks in the UK with open banking.
“Iwoca and Funding XChange are leaders in the use of intelligent technology to make SME funding more accessible, more affordable and more sustainable. By transforming the credit-assessment and cost-to-serve, we deliver targeted, self-serve propositions to underserved segments,” said Katrin Herring, CEO of Funding Xchange in the same release. “Given the challenges that the crisis has created for small businesses, this partnership is delivering critical access to finance to help businesses rebuild and flourish.”
Funding Circle is joining one of the trendiest markets in the industry right now, Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL). The company will provide its customers with a way to spread supplier payments or invoice costs over 90 days by providing the capital upfront and allowing the borrower to pay later.
It has been dubbed FlexiPay by the UK-based lender and will enable access to between £3,000 – £50,000 of upfront capital. Loan eligibility will be determined in minutes and the funds will be available almost instantaneously, according to Funding Circle. This combination of small business lending with BNPL services is seemingly unprecedented to the industry.
“We are really excited to be using our market-leading technology to launch FlexiPay, which is designed to support small businesses to manage and control their cash flow,” said Lisa Jacobs, the Europe Managing Director of Funding Circle. “The new product enables businesses to buy now and pay later on any business spend in a way that suits them.”
The payment option will give access to “interest-free” financing to borrowers with a flat fee of 3% per invoice, without any annual charges or setup fees. Access to FlexiPay will not be given to new customers until the end of the year.
According to a source familiar with Funding Circle, the company could possibly bring the FlexiPay concept to the US once they’ve fully rolled it out in the UK.