Sir Ernest Shackleton was one of the great polar explorers of the early 20th century. His ship was the Endurance. When his expedition was trapped on Antarctica in 1914 he led one of the greatest rescue missions of all time and every member of his crew survived.
This story is inspiring and one that resonated with Sam Hodges and Alex Tonelli. They liked it so much they decided to take the name of their new company from the ship at the heart of this amazing story. So, Endurance Lending Network (I will shorten to Endurance) was born.
The roots for Endurance go back to 2011 when Alex Tonelli was trying to get a business loan for his successful fitness center business. He was rejected for a $75,000 loan even at a 20% interest rate. Discussing this experience with one of the gym’s investors, Sam Hodges (who had experience with financial marketplaces from his time at SecondMarket), the two hit on a way of addressing this pain point: build a marketplace for small business loans.
Together Sam and Alex raised a $1.5 million seed round in the spring of 2012. This allowed them to build out their platform and their team. The first loan issued by Endurance was closed in April 2012 and they spent the rest of that year honing their online borrower platform, setting up their regulatory framework and building a backlog of interested lenders.
In my recent conversation with Sam Hodges he was very careful not to give away their current loan volume he did say that in July they processed 600 inbound loan applications and a meaningful share of these were fundable.