A Day in the Life: How Behalf’s head of marketing keeps a cross-border team innovating


Although Crystal Eastman has over a decade of experience working at American Express, her recent switch to head of marketing at SMB financing firm Behalf has her pumped: “For a marketer,” she said, “the opportunity to build a brand from scratch is an incredible gift.”

It’s also a challenging gift. Working with a startup, Eastman has to do a lot with a little, and her four-person team, which covers the gamut from brand to acquisition to lifecycle marketing, is spread across the company’s NYC and Israel offices.

One of Eastman’s main goals is spreading awareness of Behalf’s SMB financing solution. With oh so many fintech and even bank SMB financing products on the market, standing out from the crowd is no easy task. As far as Eastman’s concerned, Behalf’s marketing win is in its value proposition, which leverages supply chain financing to help SMBs optimize their cash flow, so they can buy more, which then increases merchant sales.

Here’s what an average workday in Eastman’s life looks like.

6 a.m.: As soon as I get up around 6 a.m. (!), I make my first cup of coffee and spend an hour on quick touch-base calls and respond to all of my emails. When you work on a global team, it’s super important to be there for your colleagues . Otherwise, you end up as a bottleneck to progress. I then proofread the day’s customer emails and give my team the green light to drop.

7 a.m.: After this I go offline for an hour to get my kids ready and take them to school. This is either the best part of my day or the most challenging part of my day, depending on the day. 

8 a.m.: My day in the office typically kicks off in high gear with video conference collaboration sessions with our Israeli office colleagues until noon. At Behalf, we establish “Squads” of cross-functional teams to tackle our strategic priorities. As head of marketing, it’s my job to bring the customer focus to the squads and ensure we are building for consistent, cross-channel delivery of engaging experiences. Today, for instance, we are reimagining the way our customers pay another business for the first time via our platform. We have a lot of fun kicking around new ideas (though I am certain some of my best jokes are getting lost in English to Hebrew translation).

Noonish: A bunch of us have signed up for a new lunch subscription service from a start-up called Meal Pal, so we all have to run to our lunch pick-up appointments. We make a concerted effort to be early adopters of new products and services, then discuss our likes/dislikes with a lens on potential applications to our customer experience.
2 p.m.: I sit down for a face to face with one of our newly-signed strategic merchant partners to plan the launch of our service to their SMB customers. Together we develop a hook for a cobranded announcement, and my team will then focus on creating banners, emails, and a landing page to support the launch over the coming week.

4 p.m.: Time to review some web analytics. We recently relaunched behalf.com, and are in process of A/B testing our conversion experience, as well as optimizing our content for search — exciting times for a marketing geek! Once I’ve got what I need from the world wide web, I touch base with my team to share insights and make a game plan for the week.

5 p.m.: I sync with our CEO, Benjy Feinberg. Since we’re a startup, we always have way more work to do than people to do it. Having a daily conversation with Benjy helps me prioritize projects and keep my sights set on the biggest opportunities

6 p.m.: We unwind as a team with drinks in our common area. We call this “Behalf O’Clock” and it is a great way to stay connected and recharge after a long, hard day!

The 2016 Tradestreaming Awards winners: Online lenders

We’ve focused so much on the travails of the marketplace lending industry that we haven’t given enough attention to the amount of innovation that’s going into online lending in general. We hone in too much on the headline numbers. The addiction to growth, and the subsequent slowdown in just part of the industry, belies the fact that there’s a ton of things happening that are worthy of our attention.

The Tradestreaming Awards are a step in the right direction towards recognizing the talent, energy, and vision that are required to create great digital financial products.  The following are our inaugural winners in the lending category.

Best Online Consumer Lender

This was an award that went to a consumer lender with the best overall user experience, product selection, and potential to massively grow its online business.

Winner: CommonBond


As an online student loan refinancing platform, CommonBond helps people save up to $14,000 over the life of their loans. And it does so through a friendly, easy-to-use interface and responsive, outstanding customer service cited by many customers.

The company takes its community approach seriously, pledging money to education for children in need as part of every loan it refinances. Now, with its new 401(k) product, CommonBond enables employers to turn debt repayment into an employee perk.

Best Online Business Lender

This went to a lender targeting businesses with engaging products followed by a great user experience.

Winner: Behalf


Behalf’s version of on-demand purchase financing is changing the way vendors work with their business customers. Through a nearly instantaneous credit application, Behalf essentially offers vendors an outsourced financing unit that provides short term loans to their customers. Business customers use Behalf to quickly finance individual purchases, some of which are eligible for fee free net terms. The firm scored 9.1 on TrustPilot with 150 reviews.

Most Innovative Lender

Tradestreaming recognizes a lender that thinks out of the box with creative product design, marketing campaigns, and user experience.

Winner: FastPay


Founded in 2009, FastPay has financed over $1.5 billion in media receivables for digital media businesses. Companies can quickly apply by entering some financial and bank account information either directly or through the firm’s integrations with accounting software like QuickBooks. Once approved, businesses can upload invoices or link their media dashboards like Google or AppNexus. Invoices get verified and FastPay advances a percentage of funds up front and rebates the remaining amount once a client pays an invoice.

Come join these award winners at our first Tradestreaming Money Conference as we explore the impact technology is having on big finance.


Winning in online lending requires creative acquisition strategies

best presentations for marketplace lending

There are a couple of ways to skin the online SMB lending cat: sure, you can provide straight-up loans to small businesses in need of capital. But, there’s a growing trend of what are called supply chain lenders — financing firms that provide cash to help grease the wheels of commerce.

Some of these lending models work as a three-way balancing act, providing cash as the connective tissue between buyers and sellers. By inserting themselves in the supply chain of both interested parties, everyone typically wins. Sellers have conflicting priorities. Of course, they want to get paid ASAP but they also understand that today’s buyers want, or require, flexibility in their payment terms. Supply chain lenders can help suppliers get paid quicker, provide beneficial payment terms to their customers, without taking on any credit risk.

“Cash flow patterns vary significantly among small and medium size businesses, so one-size-fits-all doesn’t work. For some businesses, reasonably priced supply chain financing can be the best solution,” said Ann Marie Mehlum, associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Capital Access.

Supply chain financing makes acquisition easier, cheaper

In a way, supply chain lending is a better mousetrap. It’s really hard for a standalone lender to profitably bring in new borrowers. That’s why leaders in the space are partnering with incumbents, to help with acquisition costs. OnDeck did just that with its partnership with JP Morgan.

Supply chain finance firm, Behalf, has built an interesting distribution model. The firm works with suppliers to act as a financing option for their SMB customers. SMBs can take out a loan with Behalf to finance a purchase and Behalf pays the supplier immediately for its wares.

“Our value proposition is a win/win for customers and merchants – it helps customers optimize their cash flow, so they can buy more, which then increases merchant sales,” says Crystal Eastman, Behalf’s head of marketing, “so our product effectively sells itself.”

Instead of sending millions of direct mail pieces per month like many marketplace lenders have done, online lenders like Behalf are finding that they can lower acquisition costs by identifying and incentivizing suppliers to spread the word to potential borrowers. In this model, Behalf’s online approval tools can be integrated in a site’s checkout process, so that by the time a customer reaches checkout, he’s already approved for a short term loan.

It’s similar to the strategy used by consumer lenders like Greensky, Bread and Affirm who are signing partnerships with retailers to integrate their credit products at checkout.

Online lenders embed themselves in the distribution channel

For lenders like Behalf, good marketing isn’t a splashy ad campaign or a gaudy billboard in Times Square. Acquisition is about completely understanding the needs of vendors and buyers across different industries. Once the ecosystem is understood, then it’s about embedding themselves in their distribution channels so that their product spreads virally from organic peer-to-peer recommendations.

The upstart lender can cite numerous examples of an SMB customer introducing its lending product to a vendor and the vendor eventually rolling out Behalf’s financing options more broadly to its customer base.

“You can reach out to buyers who then bring the sellers, and you can reach out to sellers who then bring the buyers,” says Behalf co-founder and CEO Benjy Feinberg.

Build trust by partnering with incumbents

It’s unclear just how many small businesses in the US are taking advantage of financing solutions that take both SMBs and their vendors into account. Another way to scale the acquisition fence is by partnering with a more established financial partner. In Behalf’s case, it was MasterCard.

Behalf is set to gain further national exposure when the credit card firm, along with data proivder, Comdata, rolls out an offer to SMBs for alternative payment terms to be used at vendors that accept MasterCard. Similarly, that should entice MasterCard-accepting vendors to join Behalf’s vendor platform. 

“Our partnership with MasterCard will have tremendous utility for our customers and allow them to access additional purchasing capacity with more flexible terms at vendors they may already be paying via MasterCard,” Eastman explained. “We have big plans for our MasterCard feature and it will become a more core part of our marketing and product strategy over the next six months.”

Danger, Will Robinson?

The MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program, in Zaragoza, Spain, found that growth in supply chain financing  could raise the risk profile of businesses to dangerous levels, and could even cause a systematic financial failure. These concerns mean that financial institutions engaged in forms of finance like reverse factoring and alternative SMB financing companies like Behalf will probably face the regulatory music in the near future.

In the meantime, Behalf can congratulate itself on the fact that it hasn’t had to do a lot of follow-up marketing. “They usually come back by themselves,” says CEO Feinberg. “It’s like asking why people use a credit card again and again? Because it works.”

Tradestreaming’s Hadas Tayeb contributed to this article.

Sticker shock? These 5 fintech startups can help finance your purchases

5 fintech startups that will help you buy that next purchase

One of the most important aspects of sound financial management is managing cash flow. Unfortunately, given the lumpiness of inflows and outflows, individuals or businesses sometimes find themselves in a crunch, unable to attain loans that would allow them to smooth out their cash flow. That smells like an opportunity for fintech, which has created companies and services to fill this lending void that traditional banks haven’t.

In no particular order, here are 5  alternative lending startups helping individuals and companies better manage their cash flows.


Founded in 2012 in San Francisco by Jeffery Katitz, Nathan Gettings, and Max Levchin, Affirm provides point-of-purchase loans in the form of payment plans for individuals to make purchases. Each individual purchase made through Affirm is treated as a separate loan, and customers are informed in real-time if they have been approved. In order to provide additional security to the loan, customers may be required to give a down payment or link their checking account to their Affirm account. For the service, Affirm charges between 10%-30% simple interest APR.

Affirm has raised 3 rounds of capital since 2014, totaling $420 million. The last two investment rounds were in 2015 ($275 million) and 2016 ($100M), and were led by Spark Capital and Founders Fund, respectively.


Founders Tuba Breca, Alon Feit, and Gil Don decided to extend a method of payment to users in the United States that exists in only a few countries around the world. Using Splitit, customers can buy items on payment plans using their existing credit cards, requiring no additional fees or applications. Each month, Splitit automatically authorizes and captures payment from a buyer’s credit card, allowing consumers to pay for a product over a time period of their choosing.

Although Splitit is currently available only to customers with a Visa and MasterCard, 54% of credit card holders prefer installments over free shipping, so it looks like there’s a lot of room to grow market share. Splitit raised $10 million in May of 2015, and was founded and operates out of Herzliya, Israel.


Fresh off a recent investment round, BlueVine provides businesses with invoice financing, also known as factoring, and lines of credit. Acting as a traditional lender, BlueVine offers up to $250,000 in invoice financing, and up to $30,000 in lines of credit. Businesses can apply for a loan and know within 24 hours if they are approved.

Founders Eyal Lifshitz, Nir Klar, and Motti Shatner founded the company in 2013 and are Headquartered in Palo Alto, California. BlueVine has raised $64 million in 7 investment rounds since inception, with the last two rounds led by Menlo Ventures and Citi Ventures. In 2016, leading Israeli business publication, Calcalist named BlueVine one of 2016’s top 50 startups.


Behalf provides up to $50,000 in trade financing for B2B enterprises. As opposed to lending money to a business to pay for its supplies, Behalf pays suppliers directly on behalf of its business customers, assuring that the money goes to the right places. Behalf charges between $10 and $30 a month for every $1,000 loaned out.

Founded in New York in 2011 by Jeremy Esekow, Shai Feinberg, and Benjy Feinberg, Behalf raised $10 million in 2013 and $124 million in 2015, with rounds led by Spark Capital and Mission OG, respectively. Sequoia Capital is also an investor.


Another B2B lender, Fundbox gives advance payments to small businesses by providing loans on existing invoices. Using invoice financing, Fundbox provides cash flow relief to businesses by allowing companies to borrow against their accounts receivables. As of September 2015, Fundbox had 20,000 businesses signed up, a single digit default rate, and processed invoices totaling $30 billion.

Fundbox was founded in 2013 by Yuval Ariav, Tomer Michaeli, and Eyal Shinar, and has raised $112.5 million since 2014, with funding rounds led by Spark Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and Khosla Ventures.  At the 2016 PYMNTS Innovator Awards, Fundbox took home the award for Small Business Innovation.

Photo credit: Patrick Hoesly via VisualHunt.com / CC BY