It was back in 2013 when I first met Albert Periu. He was a partner at a startup small business lender called Endurance Lending (we wrote about them here). That company was bought by Funding Circle later that year and became Funding Circle USA with Albert running capital markets. I have gotten to know him quite well over his years at Funding Circle and I was very curious when I heard at the end of 2016 that he had moved on from Funding Circle to start his own venture.
I reached out to him at the time and he was somewhat coy about his intentions. It was not until last month when I visited his office in San Francisco that I finally found out the full extent of what he was doing with his new venture called Neptune Financial or NepFin.
The Middle Market Needs Disrupting
Whereas Funding Circle focuses on small businesses needing loans of up to $500,000, NepFin will be covering a completely different segment of the business lending market, what is called the lower middle-market. Specifically those companies with revenue of $10 million to $100 million looking to borrow between $5 million and $60 million. I was surprised to learn that this was a somewhat underserved market.
I would have thought companies of such size would have plenty of options to borrow money. But because of Basil III (increased capital requirements), Dodd-Frank (additional compliance costs) and bank lending rules these medium-size companies are underserved. I thought banks would have provided a lot of the funding for these companies and that is true to some extent. But often they will not lend the full amount these businesses require.
Enter NepFin. They don’t have the same capital requirements as banks and they have a little more flexibility on their loan terms. And Albert can apply all the learnings from Funding Circle to this different but related market segment.