Posted by Samir Desai, CEO, Funding Circle
Editor’s note: From the typewriter to the propelling pencil to our favorite, the world wide web, inventors and innovators from the United Kingdom have brought us brilliant advances that have changed the way we work all around the world. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share a handful of stories from disrupters and trailblazers in the UK who are using Google Apps for Work to support their mission while growing at faster and faster speeds. Today we hear from Samir Desai Co-founder and CEO of Funding Circle, the world’s leading marketplace for small business loans.
At Funding Circle, we’ve built the world’s leading marketplace for individuals to lend money directly to small and medium-sized businesses in the US and the UK. Since our launch in 2010, we’ve experienced rapid growth, lending more than half a billion dollars to over 5,500 businesses. Google Apps for Workequips our teams to work across geographies which keeps business strategy on track as the company grows. Today, I’ll share four insights that are relevant for other businesses looking for growth opportunities.
1. Use data to your advantage
We use a combination of data and risk analytics to effectively grade our loans in more detail than traditional lending institutions and to differentiate ourselves from what other banks offer. Because of our deep analytical understanding, we can offer loans to businesses that banks might turn away. We also publish the performance of every loan we’ve ever originated on our marketplace so this information is downloadable to investors. As a result, we’ve attracted 30,000 individual investors, the Government, 10 local councils, a university and a range of financial institutions, who are all willing to lend their money because of how transparent we are about performance.
2. Invest in technology that allows your business to scale and grow
We’ve embraced the cloud from the outset. We select technology that enables us to save money, increase productivity and collaboration, like Google Apps for Work. Google Docs and Sheets are particularly valuable tools for the press releases and centralised documents we edit and share across geographies. For example, we recently announced our latest funding round of $65 million and our communications team, based in the UK and US worked very closely together. Docs and Sheets allowed them to collectively craft a strong story about the announcement and share updates. We are using Google Hangoutsto help our UK and US offices keep in touch. The tech team is often in Hangouts as they review our web platform and refine our code. The collaborative and inexpensive nature of Hangouts also helps us save money when it comes to travel. The immediacy you get from Hangouts connects you when it matters, where ever you are.
3. People work better when they socialise together
We set out to create a place where people want to work. We bring smart people together and offer them a place to tackle large challenges, and have fun. Our offices are equipped with gaming consoles, ping pong tables, our beloved mini-bar ‘Fundabar’, as well as breakout areas where quick meetings can happen away from your desk. Nurturing the working environment can create a fabric that connects employees even when they’re new to the team. People work better when they socialise with each other and spend their valuable time in a comfortable office environment.
4. Reflect constantly to reinvent how you grow
We’re relentlessly assessing how to reinvent the company and change things. As we grow in size it’s important to avoid being complacent. We maintain a startup culture of moving fast and trying new things. Just because we’ve done things a certain way for the last 6 months or even 4 years, doesn’t mean there isn’t suddenly a better, more efficient way of moving forward. It’s better to take cues from what doesn’t test well, such as a marketing channel or a particular part of the website, and change course rapidly, putting the company in a better position to capture better results and offer a better service. We’re committed to providing the best experience for our customers. This only happens with a constant evaluation of the service and a neverending drive for efficiency.