Smartfundit was founded in 2006 by Suki Gallagher and Justin Floyd. It’s still privately-owned but German private equity company BayTech Venture Capital took a £3.5m stake in the business in December.
Gallagher explains: “Justin and I started in business together in 1993, owning an offline tech brokerage. We’ve used the rules and methodology that we’ve learned to build an online platform. We fully understand the underwriting rules and credit criteria of the banks, and so we drive traffic to them. There’s never been a more important time than now for this median; the credit crunch is almost like a perfect storm.”
Smartfundit is launching in the US in April and already has 11 funders signed up to the platform. “You could say the economic problem is deeper in the US but the position is calmer out there now,” Gallagher says. “It’s still depressed but a lot of the funders are looking to lend now. They’re keen to get cracking and Smartfundit is a good controlled way of getting business.”
US expansion will be followed by a European roll out starting with Germany and France. Gallagher notes: “We’re focusing on Germany because our investors are based there and they 100 per cent believe the opportunity in the country for Smartfundit is significant.”
In the UK, Gallagher insists banks are still lending to SMEs but warns they’re being very prescriptive about the types of business they’ll write. “They’re much more cautious,” she says. “In some cases, what is key is the quality of data. Most funders now want to see really up-to-date information. They want the directors of the business to stand by loans in the form of directors’ indemnity.”