The PPP government aid program in the US continues to put a strain on the banking sector.
We’re hearing an increasing number of stories of how traditional institutions are partnering with fintechs to navigate through the crisis. Anvil is one of those fintechs servicing traditional banks and FIs. The company, which replaces PDF forms with online workflows, collaborated with Sunrise Banks to get help the Minneapolis-based bank process $127 million in PPP loans in just five days for 1600 small businesses. Anvil also closed a recent funding round that saw Citi Ventures and Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused fund, participate.
Anvil founder and CEO Mang-Git Ng joins us on Tearsheet Podcast today.
What Anvil does
We are a paperwork automation platform. We help banks take their existing paperwork process and convert it into online workflows that. It really simplifies the paperwork preparation, data gathering and signature aspects.
In financial services, account opening, mortgage processing — any time an agent has to capture information from a client and fill out forms and get them signed — that’s something that Anvil can help with.
Why start the company
I’ve always worked as a software engineer or in product in Silicon Valley at startups. Back in 2017, I was applying for a mortgage and the process seemed so cumbersome. Information was passed over email and while banks had websites, the forms didn’t save information as I filled out forms — it was just an ad hoc way of gathering data and sending it over an unsecure channel.
When we dug into the problem, we saw there was a much larger issue. Banks were processing a lot of these forms on a daily basis and there was a lot of overhead and work for bank workers to accept the information and make sure it goes where it needs to go. We changed our perspective — instead of building a product for consumers, we chose to build it for business users. Where they can really benefit from small operational efficiency gains. As opposed to consumers who only fill out forms episodically.
How it works
Once we capture the information, it’s captured digitally in a machine readable format so it can be accessed by CRM systems, core banking software or any other system you need information. We look at paperwork as just one area we can push information. We can push the info onto a PDF and send it for signature. But really, anywhere else you’re keying in the data — you can grab a copy of it over API or pre-built integrations Anvil already has.
Launching a PPP application with Sunrise Banks
The first workflow we launched with Sunrise was the Paycheck Protection Program application. We started working with them when the second round of financing was coming through for PPP. We helped them create an online workflow to share with small business owners. Anvil was collecting the information from SMB owners, including supporting documents. As soon as the information was collected, we generated a completed version of the PPP PDF application.
We then asked clients for their signatures and immediately called Sunrise’s systems to say, hey, here’s all the data and signed document. They could then kickoff their internal review process using that information. It was all automated — no need for an agent to get in touch with an individual to complete the application process.
Nature of the deal and metrics
Sunrise Banks is a great partner. They understand technology and worked very closely with us to launch their product. We went from first meeting to launched product in six days. In between that, we had vendor validation and all of those steps — it was a whirlwind week.
Volume-wise, Sunrise did $127 million in loans over 5 days for 1600 small businesses. It was exciting times for us. We were watching our servers and making sure everything was running smoothly. It was a lot of fun.
We built a base version of the PPP application and shared a video of it with banks. Little did I know how much customization would be required — even down to changing the wording to satisfy compliance — to work with Sunrise. I learned a lot about what banks will need from Anvil.
Champions inside the bank
Our champion inside a bank is tasked with streamlining business operations internally. Oftentimes, at a small bank, it’s a CIO or business lead. They need to make their business run faster and smoother. The end users oftentimes are the frontline agents interacting with clients. They’re replacing their process of email and phone calls and PDF attachments with an Anvil link.
We just announced our Series A last week. We brought on a good group of investors. The lead was Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused investment arm. Citi Ventures also participated. They saw our product and were able to apply it to a lot of the processes they have at Citigroup. They saw Anvil as a solution to the paperwork processes they have.
We need to scale up our team to support our customers. There’s a lot of work to be done there organizationally. Product-wise, we get a lot of requests around data integration — how do we get the data where it needs to go so it doesn’t need to be re-keyed? We’re also looking into how to leverage AI to better understand forms that get uploaded. We want to automatically understand the rules around the completion of a form. That’s exciting if a machine can understand a form that humans struggle with.