Behind a rebrand and a new marketplace, SMB lending marketplace Become shuns telephone sales in favor of a full digital experience
- Become, previously Lending Express, offers an entirely end to end digital lending process for SMBs.
- The company also announced a $12.5 million investment round.
The digital lending journey frequently ends with a prospect hopping on the phone to chat with a loan specialist. Many of the online lenders begin customer journeys digitally but time and experience has taught them that they can convert more prospects into borrowers by getting people to call in.
Become, which recently rebranded from Lending Express, wants to change that for SMB borrowers. An SMB can get full details of real offers entirely online through underwriting integrations with top lenders like Fundbox, Kabbage, and BlueVine.
"If you go online with existing marketplaces, you’ll be routed to speak to someone over the phone. Our competition are sales organizations," said Eden Amirav, co-founder and CEO of Become. "The internet is in our DNA. We go all the way with online flow. We think everything goes in that direction."
As Lending Express took on its new image, the company also evolved its offering. Using its LendingScore technology, the company always provided SMBs with visibility into their fundability with scoring and automated suggestions to help them become more attractive to lenders. If there was a match between a borrower and lender, the SMB was sent to a lender's site to complete the transaction. The lending marketplace found that even when the platform matched a borrower with a lender, the business frequently wouldn't get funded.
Now, more of the loan cycle occurs within Become's system. "We figured that if we really wanted to give businesses the best options of getting funded, we had to bring the options to them, rather than sending them out to a vendor's site," said Amirav.
This frequently results in quicker funding, too. 30 percent of lenders on Become's marketplace are able to return an immediate response via an API, according to Amirav. Loans can get funded as quickly as an hour. The more traditional lenders still require manual review, which means that it can take a few hours to a few days after registration to return a decision. Funding from traditional lenders can take a week or two.
Funding runs from $10,000 to $350,000. The average loan is around $30,000. Become offers a variety of loan products, including line of credit, SBA, term loans, and merchant cash advance.
Become also continues to monitor a business' fundability after a failed or successful match with a lender. Using Plaid, the company views transactions on an almost daily basis and monitors its applicants for anything that would affect fundability. If there are better or new funding opportunities, Become will notify its borrowers.
As the company moved in the direction of creating a more closed-loop marketplace, Amirav felt it outgrew its original Lending Express brand. "We were asking what we want to become and what we want our clients to become," he said. "That's how we got to the name Become -- we want our businesses to become more of what they are, to achieve more of their potential no matter what stage they are at."
The company uses its roots in Internet lead generation to bring in new borrowers. Become prefers online acquisition via channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google. Additionally, Become uses a content marketing strategy, creating and distributing information and thought leadership to attract new prospects. The firm is testing direct mail and working with brokers.
Become also announced today the closing of a $10 million Series A investment round. The company has also secured an additional $2.5 million in venture debt from Viola Credit, bringing the total to $12.5 million. The funds will be used to scale up operations in the United States and Australia.