StreetShares Democratizes Investing and Small Business Lending

This is a guest post by Mark L. Rockefeller, Co-Founder and CEO, StreetShares. What if investors could compete to lend you money for a small business loan? Welcome to StreetShares. StreetShares is dedicated to funding the next generation of American small businesses through our auction-based funding model where qualified retail and institutional investors bid to back portions of small business loan requests. The StreetShares marketplace combines the lowest bids into a single loan for the business, a technique designed to decrease the borrower's cost to the lowest-possible rate. The press has called us “Shark Tank meets eBay” for small business loans. StreetShares was born out of an idea my two co-founders and I had to democratize investing and lending to small businesses. We met for breakfast at a local diner outside of Washington, D.C. in 2013 to brainstorm a new main street funding source. I had begun my career as a military officer and later as an attorney at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, focusing on securities and financial restructuring. Mickey Konson, our COO, led Capital One’s consumer retail bank business and was their Senior Credit Officer while Ben Shiflet, our CTO, was a two-time entrepreneur and highly experienced in software engineering. Together we had one vision: to bring trust and community to digital lending. StreetShares was born. StreetShares blends the social loyalty and trust of affinity groups with traditional bank underwriting, enabling investors to fund the businesses they believe in. The first affinity we’re focusing on is U.S. military veterans. Business owners on the StreetShares marketplace apply in minutes, pre-qualify for funding in seconds, and fund their businesses in under a week—enabling retail businesses like Combat Flip Flops in Washington to build out their inventory, government contractors like Spartan Business and Technology in D.C. to expand their current contracts, or multimedia businesses like WazaMedia in Maryland to build their team of designers and web developers. One of the most exciting aspects of the StreetShares marketplace is that small business owners get to pitch their loan request directly to investors at no cost and with no obligation to accept a loan. Investors then compete to fund them. StreetShares lends to all qualified American small businesses, but has a particular focus on providing veteran business loans. In our efforts, StreetShares has formed the nation's largest coalition of veteran-focused small business, entrepreneurship and service organizations. Our exclusive partners serve a collective membership of more than two million U.S. military veterans. We have also secured more than $200 million in funding to back veteran business loans on our marketplace. Our goal is to make our loan application process simple enough for a business owner to fully apply for a loan from his or her mobile device. We are working toward making the application process fully automated, including entering important documents like bank statements or business financials. Yodlee® is a key component of that automation process—with their technology and expertise, our borrowers can seamlessly and easily upload financial documents. Since implementing the new system with Yodlee Interactive API, 92% of StreetShares business loan applicants have opted in to use the Account Aggregation feature, greatly expediting our approval process. To learn more about StreetShares, visit our website at