Today’s entrepreneur and storyteller: Anonymous
Name of the project: John Doe
About: We worked on matching small businesses seeking downmarket loans (<$250k) to small banks and credit unions whos appetite for lending matched the type of business and loan request.
The year started: 2018
The year closed: 2019
Location / HQ: South Bend, IN, USA
Category: Banking, Small Business Lending
How much capital raised: $15k
Key competitors at the time: Online small business lending institutions, P2P lenders
Traction reached: Launched a pilot program with 8 community lending institutions and had 6 different business owners go through our process to get matched for a loan.
Target market, the market situation at the time of start: Banks with <$4B in total assets and small businesses seeking <$250k loans.
What inspired the idea: Conversations with both lenders, business owners, and community stakeholders about small businesses’ access to capital and some of the hurdles and pitfalls of the way things are currently done/ the reasons deals don’t go through. We found that different lenders had different appetites for lending but business owners didn’t know that. Usually, if they were denied they would give up because they thought all lenders would give them the same answer. This was contradictory to our conversations, research, and pilot results.
Success parts, what worked: Our hunches were largely correct and we ended up helping 4 business owners who had previously been turned down for a loan to get the funds that they were requesting.
- Our approach was wrong. It would have cost too much money and effort to acquire the business owner side of our platform. We ignored the unit economics of our business model and the feedback that lenders wouldn’t pay for the service and kept pushing forward.
- On top of all of this, our team was running out of time and money to support our livelihoods and this led to pressures to raise funds and caused a rift between team members. Ultimately leading to lack of communication and direction of the startup.
Key causes of failure:
- Ignoring bad unit economics/feedback
- Lack of communication between co-founders
- Lack of funding
Grateful for/Key learnings:
- I learned the importance of being on the same page as your team member. If you can’t work with your co-founder, the startup will never work.
- Also, unit economics are extremely important and should not go unattended to.
This information’s purpose is to help learn from the mistakes (and pivots) of others, as well as to encourage founders to openly speak about things that failed. Look at it as a shared f*ckup depository for resilient brilliant minds.
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