Commercial lending startup Foro emerges from stealth mode to democratize access to capital for mid-size businesses
Charlotte-based startup accelerates launch of digital platform to increase commercial loan volume amid continued economic uncertainty
CHARLOTTE, NC (January 26, 2023) — Foro, a Charlotte-based fintech startup, today emerged from stealth mode with the national launch of its digital commercial lending platform. Foro’s platform guides business owners through the complex commercial lending process and introduces them to financial institutions that fit their capital needs, while providing those same financial institutions with verified, high-quality leads that meet their lending strategies and goals. 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. Even if a business successfully completes an application and is approved, it can take an additional 75-100 days for funds to hit their account.
Built by a team with decades of experience across technology, finance, and commercial lending, Foro removes the guesswork from this process entirely. The platform fosters connections between businesses and lenders based solely on fit – all while cutting the initial discovery period from 30 days down to just 7:
- First, business owners looking to secure capital fill out a simple, guided business profile that focuses on the specific questions lenders initially want answered.
- That business profile is then anonymized (removing the possibility of any biased outcomes) and routed for potential match to various lenders including banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders.
- In as little as 48 hours, business owners are presented with a list of lenders that have expressed interest in connecting, enabling the business to choose between multiple financial partners.
Throughout the entire process – from the initial application to signing the term sheet – Foro’s team of advisors are available as an objective resource to help borrowers see around corners, prepare them for meetings, review terms, and more. The result is a significantly faster and more informed commercial lending process that mutually benefits both borrowers and lenders.
“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,” said Dave Godsman, CEO of Foro. “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 addresses 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,” said Hugh McColl Jr., Foro founding investor and former Bank of America CEO and Chairman. “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 $8M in previously unannounced funding through a Series A round led by TTV Capital, with participation from Fin Capital, Correlation Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures, among others. Today, Foro is available for commercial use. To learn more about how Foro can support your capital needs or to experience the modernized commercial lending process for yourself, visit Foro.io.
Founded in 2019, Foro is a Charlotte-based fintech startup that democratizes access to capital by streamlining the commercial lending process, giving businesses the choice, clarity, and confidence they need to choose the right financial partner to fuel their future. Foro is backed by investors including TTV Capital, Fin Capital, Correlation Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures, among others. To learn more about how Foro is accelerating and improving the commercial lending process for both businesses and financial institutions, visit Foro.io today.