We talk to the CEO of Grow.ly, a P2B crowdlending platform based in Spain.
Peer-to-peer lending platforms are giving those who have difficulties attaining institutional loans new ways of getting financial support. We have seen almost everything featured on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo; niche lending platforms for student loans and first home down payments are also helping those in need through their peers.
Sitting somewhere between crowdfunding and P2P lending is Grow.ly, a startup facilitating ‘crowdlending’ from individual investors to small businesses. Companies that are requesting for financial support first sign up, and Grow.ly will review their request and select the ones that appear to have credible repayment capacity. Investors can then browse through these projects, analyzing companies and interest rates, before making a decision to give out the loan. Those investing can decide to bid different amounts on different projects, which diversifies the risks involved.
Since being a finalist of BBVA’s Open Talent competition last year, Grow.ly has seen tremendous progress. Back then, the startup had only lent a little over EUR 1 million to 40 different businesses. Right now, the platform has lent EUR 2.7 million to 86 different businesses, and is growing fast to accommodate for over 1300 users. “It had taken us more than 14 months to lend the first million, and we lent the second million in about five months,” CEO Mireia Badia tells us.
The startup attributes their progress to good customer service. “We have worked really hard to provide an excellent service to our clients (both the borrowers and the lenders), which we feel has helped us to keep growing,” Mireia says. Being a part of BBVA’s Open Talent has also helped Grow.ly reach more people than they have anticipated, through various events and access to the bank.
In terms of challenges, it comes down to the new regulations that have been introduced in the country’s financial sector. “It is great for us to have a regulatory framework as it gives more transparency to the industry, but it also increases the amount of paperwork,” Mireia says.
Attaining approval from CNMV (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores) the organization in Spain that will regulate Grow.ly, is what the startup is working on next. “We still have a lot of steps to accomplish, but the most important one [is this approval],” Mireia tells us, “We can keep operating without the license as it is approved by the law, but we know that having that milestone done will be a huge breakthrough for us.”
But BBVA’s support has helped the startup reach new potential customers and explore new ways to interact with the bank. “It has given us the opportunity to explain our product all over the world, like in the Pioneer Festival in Vienna — a great chance for us to expand our market and get feedback from experts,” Mireia says.
You can find out more about Grow.ly here.
27th May 2016