Former London equity analyst grows fintech firm in Scotland
LendingCrowd belongs to the UK’s fast-growing peer-to-peer lending industry. It benefits from Edinburgh's rich seam of technology and banking expertise for a small yet experienced team.
It’s not hard to see why peer-to-peer lending has established such a strong foothold in just a handful of years. LendingCrowd offers a real alternative to traditional bank funding with loans up to £250,000 at competitive rates. They are good news for the loan funders too — many are private individuals — who can earn a return significantly higher than on offer from traditional bank deposits.
An idea born, a first for Scotland
When CEO Stuart Lunn’s job as an equity analyst brought him from London to Edinburgh, he quickly fell in love with the way of life here — if only he could find something to do that he could call his own. After examining the financial markets for opportunities, he opted for peer-to-peer lending to small and medium-sized businesses. Along with his co-founder, a well-established technology entrepreneur, he formed Scotland’s first peer-to-peer lender for business borrowers. A subsequent fundraise was supported by a group of angel investors.
How did it grow in Scotland?
<LendingCrowd was attracted to Scotland's complete and complementary financial sector.
ts customers come from right across the UK and span a wide range of sectors — from technology and professional services to manufacturing and agribusiness. Since 2014 the company has facilitated over £6 million through more than 80 loans. Over 2,000 individual investors have signed up to their online platform.
Stuart sees his market remaining firmly onshore however. “Our technology is certainly exportable and though we’ve had approaches from companies wanting to white label our expertise, our focus for the moment has to be on growing our core business,” he said.
A wealth of expertise in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has proven to be a strong location for LendingCrowd; recruitment has gone well, with a wealth of skilled technology professionals at all levels. Stuart describes Edinburgh as having a, “vibrant tech community” and there are many, like himself, who have moved there in search of an attractive place to live and work. Banking experience and credit control are also essential elements of LendingCrowd's operation.
Locating in Scotland has been instrumental in helping find the right skills — the company’s lending team have credit expertise gained with RBS and Clydesdale Bank. The next stage of LendingCrowd’s development is already advanced. The company has raised share capital — part from private investors whose funding is matched by Scottish Investment Bank’s Co-investment Fund — that will allow it to upscale its operations and accelerate growth.
Scottish Development International (SDI) and Scottish Enterprise (SE) have supported LendingCrowd in key areas of getting off the ground in Scotland. Stuart says:
“They’ve been very useful in introducing us to a number of organisations which could help us develop, such as other technology businesses and someone to help us manage our PR.”
SE has also supported LendingCrowd through their financial systems improvement programme, which could prove an inspiration for any fintech, wishing to pursue opportunities in Scotland. This gives them access to a senior finance expert who will work with them for up to 12 months to improve their accounting and finance functions — expertise that the company couldn’t otherwise afford. They’re also in early discussions with SE about a marketing automation project which will help LendingCrowd to reach a wider audience more easily.
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Be amazed by Scotland's fintech sector