Foro, a Charlotte, NC-based fintech startup, launched its digital commercial lending platform. Backed by business pioneers including former Bank of America CEO and Chairman Hugh McColl Jr., Foro emerges at a critical time as both business owners and lenders look to maintain the flow of commercial loans despite an uncertain economy.
For most small to mid-size businesses, finding any commercial lending partner – much less one that’s a good fit for their capital needs – is time-consuming and complicated, driven by an antiquated, relationship-based model. The initial vetting and discovery process can take as long as 30 days, as many businesses struggle to tell their story effectively while financial institutions are left to filter through thousands of applications, the vast majority of which they have no interest in lending to. Foro seeks to change that.
“Even during economic uncertainty, capital is always available – everything just gets a little tighter. Lenders become more selective with their loans, and business owners become more conservative, seeking guidance on who to approach and how to best tell their story in order to secure the funding they need,” Dave Godsman, CEO of Foro, said. “By using Foro, businesses can secure capital more efficiently and with more support than the current model, while lenders can access a pre-screened pool of businesses that already fit their lending parameters. The fact that we’re emerging now, in an unpredictable market, is not a coincidence — our platform delivers a more streamlined and objective process for commercial lending at a time when it’s needed the most.”
Foro also seeks to address some of the inherent inequities that have plagued the industry for decades. Previous studies have shown that after controlling for creditworthiness and other characteristics, minority-owned businesses, particularly Black-owned businesses, are more likely to receive loan denials and higher interest rates for accepted loans. The anonymous nature of Foro’s platform ensures that borrowers are judged solely on the merits of their business and nothing more, while also providing guidance to those who may not have the prior knowledge and experience needed to navigate the commercial lending process effectively.
“The goal of increasing access to capital, particularly for business owners in underserved communities, is what sets Foro apart,” Hugh McColl Jr., Foro founding investor, said. “They’ve built a platform that streamlines the loan process and enhances lending strategies for financial institutions, and provides all business owners with the opportunities, tools and confidence they need to grow their business.”
Foro launches with $8 million in funding through a Series A round led by TTV Capital, with participation from Fin Capital, Correlation Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures, among others.