A small business owner himself, Blake has long known the pain of finding funding. He and co-founder Trent Miskin launched Lendio in 2011 with the objective of helping entrepreneurs get quicker and easier access to funds. Lendio soon became the nation’s largest marketplace for small business loans. In 2017, Lendio launched a first-of-its-kind marketplace lending franchise program; within two months, five agreements were signed to open a Lendio franchise across the country. Since then, Lendio Franchising has added 33 licensed owners to that list, now covering over 67 territories and growing.
In its first year of operation, Lendio Franchising was named the number one brand in the Business Financial Services category on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list, successfully facilitating 16 million dollars in financing to over 500 businesses across the U.S. Lendio seeks to become a household name via the continued growth of its online marketplace and development of strong local partnerships.
According to Blake, “There are two mottos that Lendio and its franchisees aim to live by. The first is, ‘Fuel the American dream by making small business loans simple.’ Lendio and all of its lending partners are focused on the success of the nation’s small business owners because we know they are the backbone of the American economy. In fact, we know that every one dollar in lending to a small business creates an average of $3.79 in gross output in local communities. Lendio has facilitated more than $1.5 billion in business loans to-date, generating an estimated $5 billion in gross economic output nationwide. Lendio’s second motto is, ‘Humble. Hungry.’ This is our way of saying check your ego at the door and come to work ready to sprint each day. From our C-suite to our team of loan experts and our HR managers to our franchise owners, everyone at Lendio embodies this spirit of hard work and humility.”
Even today, around 80% of small business owners are turned down by banks, and about 70% of them are unaware of the non-bank lending options available to them. Lendio aims to serve this 70%, who are in need of working capital or expansion funds to grow their businesses.
Unlike most financial institutions and banking systems that require a lot of legwork, Lendio connects business owners to its centralized network of over 75 lenders. It replaces the lengthy loan application process with one 15-minute application, which is reviewed by the lenders offering multiple loan options and financing solutions. This streamlined process often makes it possible for businesses to receive funds in just 48 hours.
Lendio Franchising provides access to the same high-tech online application and marketplace, with the added benefit of a more personalized experience working with a local loan expert. “Lendio’s franchise owners take this service even further through partnerships with community banks and local lenders. These franchisees are highly in tune with the challenges facing businesses in their areas, what these business owners need to succeed, and also the impact that local businesses can have on their communities,” explains Blake. Hence, Lendio looks for foundational franchisees who can add core competency to the network by penetrating the local market and becoming trusted advisors for the area’s small business owners.
As the CEO of a fast-growing organization, Blake fully understands his role in shaping the culture of the company. He shares, “Any organization’s culture is a reflection of who is at the top. Therefore, I take my job as Chief Culture Officer as seriously as I do my CEO title. Yes, we have fun activities and free snacks around the office, but at the root, everything we do is aimed at being more successful at fueling the American dream. To make that possible, our culture committee meets regularly to assess how we’re doing, our hiring managers often make concessions on experience for better cultural fits, and every employee is given the opportunity and expectation of being the CEO of their own jobs.”
Lendio seeks franchisees who are devoted to the company’s mission and then provides them with ongoing support. Lendio franchisees receive in-depth, onsite training, and they also benefit from constant access to the corporate support team, a bi-weekly newsletter, weekly training via conference call, online training programs, resources, and marketing collateral, along with an instant messaging service that tracks conversation history. They are encouraged to provide input on processes and strategies to further optimize the support they receive. The average Lendio franchisee owns more than one territory, which speaks to their motivation and passion for fueling the American dream in their own communities.
“What better way to make an economic impact than by starting with Main Street America?” asks Blake. “And what better way to reach Main Street America than with a franchising program where lending experts can provide access to capital on a much more localized and personal level?”