DRAPER — Becca Grider and sister-in-law Lindie Royall have hit the small-business trifecta.
The Utah women helped solve an inconvenience with a product people like in a manner that makes it almost effortless for anyone to become a customer.
When the fast success of Draper-based Little Poppy Co., their online business that offers a subscription service for monthly delivery of children's hair bows, threatened to overwhelm them, Grider and Royall leaned on another successful Utah startup.
"We were growing really, really fast and having a hard time keeping up with production," Grider said. "We started working with a company to helps us set up manufacturing overseas but needed capital to make the changeover."
And, Grider said, that's when the expertise of South Jordan's Lendio helped get Little Poppy to the next level.
Grider and Royall needed money to cover their first big order from a contracted manufacturer but found that many lenders were going to require a large upfront interest payment, even though Little Poppy had great cash flow and the co-founders only needed a short-term lending solution.
"The loan product we got was perfect because it specifically took care of our needs," Grider said. "This product was designed to cover a purchase order, which is what we were after.
"And the upfront interest was much, much lower."
That's the kind of customer experience that Brock Blake, Lendio's CEO and co-founder, has been aiming for since he helped start the business six years ago.
"What makes Lendio innovative and effective is that we have created a way to exactly match the needs of borrowers with the particular attributes of the lenders," Blake said. "We have about 15-20 loan products from 75 lenders on our platform, which means we can almost always find exactly the right finance solution for any small-business owner's needs."
Blake said the finance landscape for small businesses has been in a state of flux. In recent years, new options have been created that are contributing to the success Lendio has found, he said.
"In the past, the options for small-business loans was very limited," Blake said. "But we've seen huge growth of nonbank lenders over the last five years with new products filling niches."
And there are a lot of niches to fill. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are about 29 million small businesses in the country, making up 99.7 percent of all businesses and employing almost 57 million people.
In Utah, the almost 270,000 small businesses employ more than 540,000 people and comprise about 97 percent of all businesses in the state.
In an annual report issued by Lendio based on loan traffic data from its platform, Utah ranked No. 1 in the country for small-business lending by state, with an average loan size of about $37,000. The Beehive State moved up to the top spot from their No. 3 ranking last year.
Blake said a number of factors helped contribute to the state's high showing.
"Utah's entrepreneurial spirit and business-friendly environment puts the state in a great position for both new and expanding businesses," he said. "And people here tend to be very aware and very protective of their credit score, which makes a difference."
Lendio can mark itself down as a Utah business that appears to be making the most of the state's pro-business stance. Blake said the company helped facilitate more than $240 million in funding last year, marking an 87 percent increase over its 2015 volume.
The company also attracted a $20 million venture capital funding package late last year, bringing its total outside investment to more than $50 million since 2011.
Besides becoming very good at connecting borrowers with the right lenders (the company has a 70 percent success rate with applicants receiving loan offers), Blake said Lendio is branching out — sort of literally — into new areas via a franchising effort that launched earlier this year.
"The concept with our franchise opportunities is to really localize the service we offer," he said. "By allowing someone in a local market essentially a 'Lendio in a Box,' we bring in people who can really connect with and focus on the lending needs in their community."
So far, 15 of those new mini-Lendios have been started across the country, and Blake said that number could potentially grow to 1,000.
And Lendio customer Little Poppy Co. has growth plans of its own. With more than 15,000 monthly subscribers, Grider said a new product line is in the works, and the company will use its Lendio-provided financer again, if necessary.
"It worked out great for us," Grider said. "And it's really good to know that it is available to us if we need it again."