Before Jorge Sun and Dario Vergara co-founded LendingFront—a lending technology platform that revolutionizes small business lending—Sun was a loan officer. Working for national and international lending institutions like JPMorgan, American Express, and Chase, Sun understood how hard it was for small business owners to get capital. Still, he turned away many small businesses that were both credit-hungry and credit-worthy—simply because his institutional employers were not equipped to extend small amounts of capital quickly or profitably.
But 10 years ago, the tables turned: Sun acquired a small restaurant. “Restaurants come with high costs—[including] employees, equipment, and food,” said Sun. “Circumstances fluctuate,” he said, and “you have to prove yourself every day.”
The restaurant sparked an ‘aha’ moment for Sun about small business capital—one he never forgot. He realized that improving the way banks and other companies lend to small business owners could open new doors for banks and entrepreneurs alike—and support one of the largest workforces in America.
Sun’s next move was to help build OnDeck Capital, one of the largest small business lenders in the country which eventually went public in 2014 with over $1 billion raised. As a lender itself, OnDeck provides highly accessible small business capital—and has provided over $11 billion in loans to date.
But Jorge found himself wanting to empower all types of institutions to expand their small business lending. He sought to level the playing field for banks, credit unions, merchant cash advance companies, and other lenders that didn’t possess the right technology to serve small businesses. In 2015, he started LendingFront, the first truly end-to-end technology platform for small business lending.
LendingFront is the answer to a long-held vision: one that eases small business lending for the benefit of both lender and borrower. Here’s how Sun’s experiences helped him create this transformative solution.
Understanding the lending gap
Throughout his career, Sun has seen how small businesses go through the same process as large businesses when seeking capital. “Lenders apply similar processes to different sized companies seeking different amounts of capital,” Sun said.
The problem? Everything about small businesses is different. Banks miss out on millions of dollars in crucial revenue and small businesses miss out on the capital they need to stay afloat—all because banks lack a process to extend funding in a mutually beneficial way.
“When you lend, there are two major things limiting who you lend to: the information you have to assess risk, and the technology you have to manage it,” Sun said.
The solution? To create a new lending experience—one that leverages technology to both assess and manage risk.
Filling in the missing piece
Under Sun’s leadership as Chief Credit Officer, OnDeck successfully unlocked a new type of lending experience for small businesses: one that analyzes a business’ cash flow—in lieu of personal credit history—for a more accurate picture of creditworthiness. During Sun’s tenure, the company loaned over $1 billion to small business owners.
Next, Sun was Head of Small Business Credit for Capital One, where he began to build a small business lending solution. But the platform he envisioned couldn’t be deployed for the bank—the problem was more systemic.
That’s when Sun conceived of LendingFront: a technology platform that covers the full loan process from origination to servicing. LendingFront makes it possible for small business owners to get the funding they need from community banks, credit unions, and other lenders—whether it’s to cover emergency expenses, expand their business, or something different.
Across the table, LendingFront helps lenders make precise decisions faster. “Bank employees are valuable, and small requests take up their time,” said Sun. “With LendingFront, these employees are able to fulfill small loans without administrative burdens. They’re generating more revenue, segregating menial tasks, and assessing data discrepancies and financial information where their judgment carries the most value.”
When it comes to small businesses, LendingFront eases lender pain points, making the process tighter, most customized, and more efficient, thus driving revenue—often exponentially. Lenders and small businesses grow together when banks can give more “yes” decisions and finally provide the capital small business owners need.
“We’re a completely white-labeled solution, and that gives banks and lenders control over customer policies and processes,” Sun said. “It’s easy for a bank to process 10 loans a month, but it’s hard for them to do 1,000. With LendingFront, fulfilling that volume is a reality.”