‘We built accounting systems from scratch’: ForwardAI wants lenders to do away with PDFs and Excel
- Lenders struggle to get at accounting information that resides in PDFs and Excel.
- A new fintech data player wants to replace that old model with real time and forward looking accounting data.
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In the early days of founding expense management software firm, SlickPie, Nick Chandi fielded calls from customers. A particular customer called in one day. She had a bill coming up but no money in the bank. She ran a small business with lots of customers, but this time a series of unfortunate events happened. A couple of customers were late paying and she had to take a big expense. Now, she was in a position where she would miss a payment.
This customer turned to Chandi. She didn’t need much — she was short less than $20,000. But she was stuck. Banks didn’t want to lend to her because her needs were modest. It costs a financial institution the same amount to underwrite a $20,000 loan as it would a $250,000. She told Chandi that because she uses his accounting software, he knew her situation better than anyone. She joked, would he lend her some money?
That interaction inspired Chandi’s newest venture, ForwardAI. Recognizing the power of accounting data in lending decisions, he started working on building an initial product, a cash flow planning tool. He talked to lenders about what they could do with this data. ForwardAI offers FIs easier and cleaner access to their customers’ data sitting in QuickBooks or Xero. They can get this data themselves, sure — when a customer applies for a loan, banks and non-bank lenders primarily use PDFs and Excel to build their credit models asynchronously from accounting data. The difference is that ForwardAI provides real time and forward looking data so lenders can make decisions on the fly.
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