LEHI – Brock Blake, CEO of Lendio, doesn’t remember where or how he saw it, he just knows what his immediate reaction was when he found out that MX – a befriended financial technology company based right across from I-15 in Lehi – had developed an open development. Source code to simplify paycheck protection program loan applications.
He texted MX managers, one of whom happened to be a long-time family friend, asking if they would be interested in working together.
This partnership has resulted in billions in loans going to small businesses and helping keep businesses and jobs throughout the world Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our mission is to fuel the American dream,” said Blake. “And we adapted that to ‘Saving the American Dream’ during this time.”
Lendio is an online small business lending marketplace that has access to more lenders than any other in the industry. As Blake explains, Lendio is a kind of Yelp for small business owners. Instead of looking for restaurants, they are looking for lenders. As PPP loans became available, the company focused on connecting business owners with lenders to help them get the emergency funds.
But this process was far from easy.
There were many unknowns that even the Small Business Administration did not have good answers to. A lot of information had to be entered manually – and then over and over again before it reached the SBA to be assessed. And there have been waves of requests making it difficult for lenders to keep up. So while Lendio was connecting business owners with lenders, that didn’t mean the PPP loans were going through – at least not as quickly as anyone would have liked.
MX, which aggregates data for banks and credit unions, saw the same problem – only from the other side. The state of Utah saw a massive increase in the number of SBA applications in just a few weeks – more than ten times the usual amount. MX thought they could help clients navigate the PPP lending process. And in return, help countless companies gain access to urgently needed funds.
“In the spirit of wanting to improve the financial strength of those affected – those who run small businesses, run small businesses, or are small business employees – but also to serve our customers, we decided to find a solution that will make this tide much easier and faster to deal with, “said Gardner.
MX quickly developed code that was incorporated into the SBA. This enabled MX to receive information from the applicant and submit the PPP application directly to the SBA, which acted as an intermediary for the entire credit process.
It made everything easier. And Blake knew technology could help Lendio too.
Blake and Gardner have known each other for most of their lives. Her fathers were roommates in college at Brigham Young University, they grew up in the same neighborhood in Ogden, and in the summer the families even went to Lake Powell together. Although they had never worked together before, this relationship made it easier for Blake to ask if Gardner and MX wanted to partner with them.
On a Friday evening in April, Blake Gardner and MX founder and CEO Ryan Caldwell wrote about the idea of a collaboration. The next day, the teams from the two companies talked to each other on the phone.
“The confidence there is so great that it has accelerated our teams’ ability to actually execute and move,” said Blake. “We started adding code before we even agreed on an agreement paper because we just trusted that we would find out.”
And find out, they did. In early July, Lendio announced that it has so far raised $ 8 billion in PPP loans to 100,000 small businesses. The company estimates that the PPP loans granted have saved over 1.1 million jobs.
The question arises: Will the success of the joint venture result in further collaborations between the two Utah fintechs?
“I think we always find that opening up opportunities like this where we’re going and working together to solve a problem means that there is likely a future opportunity that we can work on together,” said Gardner.
What will it be? That is to be determined. But it’s not just a few business owners and lenders who are grateful Blake didn’t hesitate to text an old family friend.