David Haber is coming after Wall Street banks with his startup, Bond Street, and Wall Street has begun to take notice.
Like Lending Club, a peer-to-peer lender that went public in 2014 at an $US870 million valuation, Bond Street is eating into the business of some major banks by making loans to small businesses. It just pocketed a whopping $US110 million investment from Jefferies investment bank and Spark Capital, where Haber formerly worked. Some individual investors, like Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, also participated in the round.
“Not having capital for a few months when we were seeing amazing companies that we would have loved to fund was hard,” Haber, a Harvard grad, told Business Insider during a phone call Friday. “Nothing about this [funding round] was easy and I don’t take it for granted at all.”
It took persistent, in-depth conversations with Jefferies before the firm was convinced Bond Street was a good investment. But it soon became excited about Bond Street’s technology, process and customer pipeline, according to Haber.
Bond Street is one of a few financial tech companies that has Wall Street on the lookout. In his annual letter to shareholders, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon warned, “Silicon Valley is coming.”
He specifically mentioned lending companies and wrote, “There are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking … The [new] firms can lend to individuals and small businesses very quickly and — these entities believe — effectively by using Big Data to enhance credit underwriting. They are very good at reducing the ‘pain points’ in that they can make loans in minutes, which might take banks weeks.”
Haber is prepared to take on Wall Street. “The way that we’re going to win out against banks is by creating a much better customer experience,” Haber said. “We’re these businesses’ financial advocates and we’re thoughtful of how they grow their companies.”
One Bond Street success story he always shares: Joe Coffee, a family-owned shop in New York City, applied for loans at a bank, but the process took two months without a decision. Bond Street helped Joe Coffee secure a loan in just four days.
“Jonathan Rubinstein [the owner] said, ‘This is so radically different than anything I’ve experienced in the bank,'” Haber said. “He might have paid 2 per cent more with us, but it was a no brainer for him to be able to open his store and work with people he likes and have that process feel very transparent.”
It takes weeks to hear back from a bank, and people can’t apply for bank loans online, according to Haber. Haber made sure his process was much faster by snagging up resources like Quickbooks, which accepts e-signatures, so his company could evaluate credit histories with the click of a mouse.
“In just a couple of minutes, businesses can basically share all the data we need to make a lending decision,” Haber said.
According to Haber, Bond Street compresses time decisions that would normally take weeks to a few days. Now Bond Street is trying to chop down that time further, to just a few seconds.
In the future, Haber plans to collect data from business owners so he can show them how they’re doing with respect to the rest of the industry, he told New York Business Journal. The $US100 million will be put toward expanding Bond Street from eight to 25 full-time people next year.
“We’ll probably expand that even more to 40 within the next two years, but we’ll see,” Haber said.
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