Interview with Sebastian Harung, Founder of Kameo

What is Kameo about?

Kameo is a Scandinavian marketplace for SME loans. It was established to meet two clear challenges in the Scandinavian markets: SMEs do not get loans; investors do not get good returns. By directly connecting them, we hope to make the situation better for both. Kameo’s vision is to include more people in the financial markets.

Note from editor: Kameo will launch around next week.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  • Better expected returns
  • Support SMEs, the most important employer in Scandinavia
  • Possibility to create diversified portfolios

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  • Access to (more) funding
  • Quick and easy loan application
  • Flexible security & collateral structures

Sebastian Harung, KameoWhat ROI can investors expect?

Loans will be offered at 5 – 15 % per annum. At first, there will be no fees for investing through Kameo. We expect low default rates, based on historical data for Scandinavia and our thorough credit assessment. We can conservatively assume it to be around 1 – 3 % (naturally dependent on risk profile).

What is the background of the Kameo team? As some of you are Norwegian, why did you select the Swedish market for launch rather than Norway?

The team currently consists of five persons, of which only I am Norwegian. We have various backgrounds, but the same optimistic view of the future: alternative finance will transform Scandinavian banking, and it will become better for more people – it is the social democracy model, of which we Scandinavians are so proud.

We have a credit analyst with 20 years of SME analysis experience, a CTO that previously co-founded Avanza and developed its platform (Sweden’s largest net broker) as well as a marketing specialist and a business developer with backgrounds from digital marketing and corporate finance, respectively. My background is also from corporate finance at Norway’s largest bank, DNB.

And because we expect to grow, we will be looking to further strengthen the team next year.

While the largest owners are Norwegians, we chose to start in Sweden because the market is larger, it is a well-developed fintech-hub (#2 in Europe after London), and Kameo’s largest owner has a successful startup history in Sweden. In addition, the regulatory regime was easier when we started working with the idea (but this has since changed). We have, though, a clear ambition to cover Norway and Denmark next year, thus creating a Scandinavian marketplace (investors can create portfolios of Scandinavian loans.)

How is the company financed?

Two rounds of equity investments from co-founders, board members and angel investors. And I have sold my apartment and invested everything (except what I intend to lend through the platform in order to fund my daughter’s driver’s license in 16 years).

We will also be looking to raise more capital sometime next year, when we roll out in Norway and Denmark. Continue reading

Interview with Greg Ryan, CEO of Daric

Daric will enter the US p2p lending market. I conducted an interview with CEO Greg Ryan in summer. I am publishing it now, as he has notified me that Daric will launch soon.

What is Daric about?

At Daric, our vision is to provide a platform to serve people that have capital and people that need it in an efficient, friendly, and easy to use way. We believe that being a Silicon Valley based internet platform, we can leverage new technologies to increase transparency in the financial system, use algorithms and automation to help both lenders and borrowers make better financial decisions, and increase access to capital for the community as a whole.

What are the three main advantages for lenders?

1. We have placed a great emphasis on the user experience and user interface of our platform (applies to both lenders and borrowers).

2. The ability to monetize hard assets (we will go into greater detail after we have established our cash based system).

3. Providing another platform for p2p lenders to deploy their capital on. By spreading out their capital on several platforms (Daric, Lending Club, Prosper, etc.), we can provide lenders with proper diversification which therefore reduces risk.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

1. We have placed a great emphasis on the user experience and user interface of our platform (applies to both lenders and borrowers).

2. We want to expand beyond the debt consolidation model currently used by the industry leaders.

3. Daric provides another source of capital for borrowers that need it. Borrowers greatly benefit by numerous sources of capital.

Which marketing channels will you use to attract lenders and borrowers? Can you share the projected acquisition costs per customer?

Daric intends to acquire both lenders and borrowers through internet based marketing initiatives. However, we feel the most powerful way to acquire users is through word of mouth. If we provide great value and service to both our lenders and borrowers, we hope they will tell their friends about us. There is no marketing tool that is more powerful than a positive referral from someone you know and trust. Continue reading

Kimaventures Invests in Pretdunion

Kimaventures has announced investing in Pret d’union, a p2p lending company in France, which according to it’s website, aims to launch in 2011. Unconfirmed sources state that the funding round raised 500,000 Euro – no information which investors participated apart from Kivaventures is available.

CEO Charles Egly is a former banker at BNP Paribas. While the business model was drafted in September 2008, the company was founded in October 2009 and received regulatory approval in December 2009.

Earlier this year French p2p lending service Friendsclear raised 522,000 Euro from several investors including Arkeon Finance.

EDIT: Additional information provided by CEO Charles Egly:
– as of today, Prêt d’Union raised ca. 1 M€ from Business Angels and Kima Ventures.
– in december 2009 Prêt d’union filed a propectus to get a credit institution licence. Prêt d’Union has not yet received the licence and is still in discussion with the Bank of France.

Funding Circle Raises 1.1M to do P2C Lending

London based Funding Circle has announced that it has raised 1.1 million US$ form undisclosed private investors and will launch it’s p2c lending service in Q2 2010.

Director and co-founder James Meekings informed

When the platform launches later this year, people will lend small amounts to a range of different, creditworthy businesses to spread their risk. In turn, those businesses will be borrowing from a multitude of people to get a lower interest rate. … Funding Circle will also empower people to support their local community, by allowing lenders to target businesses with characteristics, such as locale, that are valued by them.

Small businesses will initially be able to apply for unsecured loans of 5,000 to 50,000 GBP. The businesses are checked for fraud and must meet a number of minimum credit requirements verified by the UK’s leading credit agency. Experienced underwriters then further analyse and screen businesses before allowing them onto the Funding Circle platform.

CommunityLend Announces $1 Million Investment by Stone & Co

CommunityLend Holdings Inc., the parent company of Canadian p2p lending service CommunityLend Inc., announced a 1 million CAN$ investment through a convertible debenture from from Stone & Co. Limited Flagship Stock Fund Canada (“Stone”). As part of their investment, Mr. Richard Stone, Founder and CEO of Stone, will join CommunityLend’s Board in an observer role.

Michael Garrity, Co-Founder and CEO of CommunityLend Inc, said:

… When CommunityLend launches in the next few weeks, we intend to remove these obstacles through the introduction of Canada’s only peer-to-peer lending system, a new lending model which removes the middleman in lending transactions by allowing borrowers the ability to connect directly with lenders through a safe and secure online lending system. …