Careers at Funding Circle
Funding Circle’s mission is to build a better financial world for businesses and investors.
In 2010 loans for small businesses in the UK had dried up due to banks’ struggle to get back on track in the face of the financial crisis. As such, many of the companies were seeking alternative sources of financing. Funding Circle launched in 2010 in response to this significant market need. It was founded by Samir Desai, a former management consultant and private equity investor; Andrew Mullinger, a former risk manager; and James Meekings, a former management consultant.
Funding Circle is an online lending marketplace that analyzes typical sources of information such as credit histories. However, it differs from banks due to having lower capital requirements, particularly for risky small firms. Further, it stands out from its competitors due to the customized risk calculation platform used to determine loan amounts for investors. Within 10 weeks of its introduction, investors used the site to lend more than £1 million to customers.
This initial success helped Funding Circle to attract its own funding. In 2011 it obtained £2.5 million in a Series A round led by Index Ventures. In 2012 it raised $16 million, and in 2013 it garnered $37 million. That same year, the company announced it had tripled in size and had overseen more than £150 million in loans for its small businesses. It also launched operations in the U.S. 2014 saw the raising of $65 million, followed by $150 million in 2015. The firm now has banks refer turned-down clients to it (including Royal Bank of Scotland), and its platform has hosted over 48,000 investors.
Benefits at Funding Circle
Business model of Funding Circle
Funding Circle has a multi-sided business model, with two interdependent customer segments that are both needed in order to operate:
- Borrowers: This group consists of small businesses. They can apply for secured and unsecured loans to grow their firms, obtain working capital, buy an asset, develop a property, get a commercial mortgage, and cover one-off business costs.
- Investors: This group includes a wide range of entities, including corporations, universities, and government agencies. They choose borrowers from the Funding Circle marketplace to loan to.
Funding Circle offers four primary value propositions: accessibility, convenience, performance, and brand/status.
The company provides small firms with access to difficult-to-obtain capital, enabling them to borrow up to £1 million over a period up to five years. It has provided £1,205,195,600 (over $2 billion) in loans in total.
The firm makes applying for a loan as simple as possible. The online process takes 10 minutes and candidates receive a decision within two working days (typically within 24 hours). Once approved, loan requests are listed in the marketplace for seven days. For investors, convenience comes in the form of the ability to lend automatically to good candidate matches through the “Autobid“ feature. Also, they can see the all-time actual return across all investors on a “Statistics“ page.
The firm touts strong performance, claiming investors can earn an estimated return of 7.3% a year.
The company has a solid reputation. It is one of the most successful financial technology firms in the UK and bills itself as the country’s largest marketplace. Its investors have funded 15,000 loans in the UK, U.S., Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. It is supported by the British Business Bank, which invested £40 million through the British Business Bank Investment Program. Lastly, a 2013 survey found that 77% of the company’s customers said that they were “likely or very likely’ to come to it for a loan before approaching a bank.
Funding Circle’s main channel is its website, through which it markets its service. The firm also engages in TV advertising, and conducts “roadshows” in which it travels and meets with brokers to discuss how they can work together to generate more business clients.
Funding Circle’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize the service through its website while having limited interaction with employees. Investors can even use an “Autobid” feature that allows them to invest in qualified firms automatically.
There is a detailed Resource Center on the site offering articles, reports, and videos on lending. That said, there is also a personal assistance component as the company provides phone and e-mail support.
Funding Circle’s business model consists of maintaining and updating a platform between two parties: borrowers and investors.
Funding Circle has three types of partners:
- Referral Partners: These are financial intermediaries that wish to connect their clients with the company’s services and financial institutions that want to utilize its underwriting and technology. They receive a fixed commission for any referred clients that receive loans on the site.
- Brand Partners: The company partners with brands who provide commercial goods and services to small firms and want to help them grow their business. Specific activities include working together on co-marketing campaigns and custom portals.
- Franchise Partners: The company works with franchisors who seek better financing alternatives for their franchisees as a means of speeding up their growth. It helps them to obtain loans for remodeling, working capital, and franchise expansion.
Funding Circle’s main resource is its proprietary software platform that uses a risk calculation technology to specify investor loan amounts.
It also depends on human resources in the form of its technology and customer service staff.
Lastly, as a relatively new start-up it has relied heavily on funding from investors, raising $273.2 million from nine companies as of April 2015.
Funding Circle has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is likely sales/marketing expenses, a fixed cost.
Other major drivers are likely in the areas of administration, engineering/product development, and origination/servicing.
Funding Circle has two revenue streams:
- Transaction Fees: The company charges an “Origination Fee” – a one-time fee that covers the cost of evaluating and originating the loan. The amount is deducted from the loan total, which means that it is not charged if the candidate is not approved. It ranges from 1.49% to 4.99% based on credit strength.
- Penalty Fees: The company charges a “Late Payment Fee” for missed payments. It is applied to the original monthly payment, withdrawn from the firm’s account and transferred to investors. It equals 10% of the missed payment. Funding Circle also charges a “Non-Sufficient Funds Fee” if a client’s account lacks the necessary amount to make a monthly payment. The fee is $35.
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