ApplePie Capital, an online lender solely dedicated to the franchise industry, entered into a $180 million loan purchase agreement with TowerBrook Capital Partners to purchase franchise loans originated by ApplePie over a two-year period.

Funding will come from TowerBrook’s Structured Opportunities Fund and a credit facility provided by SunTrust Bank. As part of the agreement with TowerBrook, ApplePie also added Tim Morris, former chief risk officer of GE Capital Franchise Finance, as a strategic advisor to the firm. Morris spent more than 25 years at GE Capital, a franchise lender specializing in financing mid-market operators in the restaurant industry.

ApplePie also closed a $16.5 million series B round, co-led by QED Investors and Fifth Third Capital, the direct equity investment subsidiary of Fifth Third Bancorp. QED Investors follows its previous investments in ApplePie’s seed and series A rounds, while Fifth Third Capital is expected to add significant strategic value and open up new opportunities for growth.

Previous investors participating in the Series B include Signia Venture Partners, Freestyle Capital and Prosper president Ron Suber. Also participating in the round is Colchis Capital Management, a prominent investor in the online lending space.

“At our core, we are a growth delivery system for the franchise industry,” said Denise Thomas, ApplePie CEO and co-founder. “We unlock value for our franchise brand partners by providing capital to their franchisees, which helps brands grow. The investments announced today will allow us to scale and dramatically advance our mission of transforming franchise finance.”

“ApplePie is a channel-first specialty finance company that isn’t trying to compete in the open market with other lenders,” said Frank Rotman, founding partner of QED Investors. “By building partnerships directly with high-quality franchise brands and structuring lending products that work for their franchisees, ApplePie benefits from advantages in origination costs, underwriting and product fit, all of which build on each other to create a business model advantage.”

Since it started lending in January 2015, ApplePie has formed partnerships with 40 franchise brands, funded more than $50 million in loans and returned more than $7 million in principal and interest to investors.

The franchise industry is a strong and growing segment of the U.S. economy with $45 billion in annual capital demand. According to IHS Economics’ Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2016, franchise businesses are projected to generate $552 billion in U.S. GDP in 2016, representing 3% of total U.S. GDP, and experience growth of 5.6%, outpacing the 4.4% growth projection of total U.S. GDP. The industry is composed of nearly 800,000 establishments and employs one in 15 working Americans.

San Francisco-based ApplePie Capital enables entrepreneurs to efficiently obtain financing to start or expand their franchise business.