Toronto-based small-business peer-to-peer lending platform FundThrough is raising a $24.6 million funding round, according to the Globe & Mail, led by the recently launched Scale Up Ventures, with an assist from Klister Credit Corp., Hedgewood and OnWave Ventures.
Co-founded in June 2014 by former Wall Street banker Steven Uster, along with Deepak Ramachandran and Graham McBride, FundThrough plans to use the new funding, of which $4.6 million is equity investment and the other $20 million loan capital, to hire more staff, boost its partnership with other cloud-accounting companies and build out its platform by improving its credit automation tool and the overall user experience.
Rather than loaning directly to businesses, FundThrough acts as a marketplace lending platform, matching small-to-medium enterprises in need to short-term financing with lenders and investors, on the expectation that the loans will yield between 10%-18% annually.
FundThrough charges fees on a per transaction basis, generally between one to two per cent per invoice, with no caps on lending, as long as goods or services provided generate an asset that can be borrowed against.
More than half of FundThrough’s customers have funded over $200,000 in invoice amounts and more than 20% have funded over $1 million.
According to Uster, FundThrough’s business has doubled every quarter since its founding.
“The real value of FundThrough is that we are eliminating payment terms, so businesses that have worked really hard to deliver a good or service no longer have to wait to get paid,” said Uster. “With us, a business can get onto the platform quickly to get those invoices paid instantly so that it can then use that money to buy more inventory, take on more jobs, pay staff and contractors and focus on growing.”
Marketplace lending has already gained significant traction in the U.S. and U.K., but FundThrough is leader of the pack in the relatively underdeveloped Canadian market.
For small-to-medium businesses, getting access to capital through the traditional banking system can take anywhere between six weeks and six months to get either accepted or rejected, with rejection more likely if you don’t have a significant net worth, or have at least three to five years of financial statements available for inspection.
By contrast, FundThrough’s online application takes only a few minutes and, once approved, comes with almost no reporting requirements.
FundThrough offers lenders a new short-term uncorrelated asset class, allowing lenders to purchase short-term loans or invoices through the platform.
Scale Up Ventures was created by ex-Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy, and former Rogers Communications CEO Nadir Mohamed, who was intimately involved in the deal that saw Rogers purchase Hockey Night in Canada for $5.2 billion.
Working with general partner Kent Thexton, former managing director of OMERS Ventures and current chairman of Sierra Wireless and Redknee Solutions, this is Scale Up’s fourth investment, and only the second that the fund has made public.
Scale Up is backed by three undisclosed Canadian banks, along with a $25 million investment from the government of Ontario, and various other private backers, including Klister Credit Corp.
Klister is led by John Phillips, an early investor in Shopify.
Earlier this year, Mitch Solway, who previously led marketing growth for a number of Canadian startups including Lavalife, FreshBooks, Vidyard and ClearFit, was appointed as vice president of marketing at FundThrough.
In June, the FundThrough platform hit a funding milestone, as its clients passed the $30 million funding mark with small borrowers using their receivables from large clients such as Walmart as collateral to borrow working capital until they wait to be paid.
The platform has since then passed the $50 million milestone.
Also in June, FundThrough announced a strategic partnership with flexible workspace provider Regus, which has more than 100,000 small business customers across Canada.
FundThrough previously raised a $2.2 million equity financing round in 2015, led by Montreal seed-stage venture fund Real Ventures.