By the time he was in his early 20s, Jared Hecht ‘09CC, was already a seasoned entrepreneur. Now, he’s deep into the launch of his second major venture, Fundera, that aims to open credit to other aspiring young small business owners interested in following a similar path.
Back in 2010, Hecht co-founded mobile messaging app GroupMe and managed to raise $10.6 million in venture capital. Almost one year to the day after the company’s launch, GroupMe was purchased by Skype for a cool $80 million. Not bad for someone less than two years out of undergrad.
But Hecht hasn’t slowed since. Following the acquisition, he founded Fundera, a new kind of lending network connecting startups and small businesses to dozens of online lenders and loans.
Hecht hatched the idea for Fundera after his wife’s cousin, the owner of successful sushi chain Fusian, repeatedly failed to secure a loan for his growing business. While, at the time, it seemed strange to Hecht that a clearly profitable venture was unable to secure funding, he quickly learned it was a common occurrence. In fact, Hecht says that approximately 75% of small business loan requests to banks are denied.
“Alternative lending is a major trend that has emerged out of dissatisfaction with banks,” he explains. “It’s one of the most exciting industries I’ve seen in a very, very long time. But it’s also a new and scary industry for many business owners. We started Fundera to not only help more businesses find funding, but help them make sense of this new world.”
Hecht believes that Fundera’s simplified process and its stellar customer success team will continue to draw in more and more small businesses, even as more players enter the marketplace. And it doesn’t seem like he’s the only one who’s feeling confident about Fundera’s future—the platform has already raised $18.9 million in total funding from a variety of investors, including Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures, David Tisch, and more.
Hecht continues to engage with the on-campus Columbia Entrepreneurship community. He actively participates with individual entrepreneurs and he is a long-time member of the Columbia University Entrepreneurship Advisory Council headed up by Special Advisor the Columbia President Lee Bollinger.
If you’re interested in learning more (or securing a loan), check out Fundera here.