October, The leading crowdlending platform in Europe has given us an interview. We will review its history, the accessibility of financing for SMEs and what are the challenges that lie ahead. First of all we will make a brief summary about October, its history, what it does and what its situation is like in the market in Spain and the EU, and then we will give way to some very interesting questions about the Spanish market.
October was born as a result of the regulatory changes that took place in France in 2014, offering SMEs a new way to obtain financing, beyond banks. From the beginning, we had the ambition of being a European entity and once we obtained authorization from the CNMV, we began our activity in Spain. Today, companies can obtain loans by borrowing directly from individual and institutional investors through our crowdlending platforms.
The first loan was channeled in April 2015 to Alain Ducasse Entreprise, the company of the famous French chef. Today, the community of more than 16,000 October investors has lent more than 260 million euros to companies. Thus, in 2017 October became the leading Marketplace for business loans in Europe.
How were the first years in Spain?
When we entered Spain, fintech was on everyone's lips. However, most were focused on the individual and few were focused on the company. We had to do a lot of awareness work so that everyone knew what October is and how it can help SMEs. And it didn't take long for us to go big.
In October 2016 we opened the office in Madrid and in February 2017 we launched the first project. Soon after, we published the largest crowdlending project, 1 million euros, destined to finance the opening of the Hard Rock Café in Valencia. This operation taught many people the potential of crowdlending and its usefulness for companies.
How is access to credit for Spanish companies today?
Today there are more options than 10 years ago. The problem is not only access but the knowledge of alternatives to the traditional route. We must work so that companies know that there are options beyond traditional banking and, thus, they can obtain all the financing they need to grow.
What is the degree of knowledge of alternative financing on the part of the SME?
For now there is little knowledge. Before, SMEs could only go to the bank to obtain financing. However, since the creation of Law 5/2015 that regulates platforms like October, companies, regardless of their size, can go beyond banking. It is true that we have seen a progression since our entry into Spain in 2016, but there is still a lot to do.
To help with this progress, October launched the Grow Together initiative in France last year with 11 large business groups. This year, the action will be replicated in Spain, with the aim of teaching SMEs the benefits of alternative financing.
How can this new financing model be brought closer to SMEs?
The best way is through partners like Alter Finance. They know the growth needs of companies and help them boost their business, diversify their sources of financing and find a financial ally like October.
As a Crowdlending platform, what does October bring to companies?
October brings businesses simplicity and speed first. In addition, we do not require real guarantees from businessmen. Lastly, one of our strengths is the financing of intangibles, an object that a bank is sometimes reluctant to finance.
What kind of operations are you promoting today?
All types. We have financed some 600 companies of all sizes and sectors; and since we can go from €30,000 to €5,000,000, we can finance various types of projects (hiring, r&d, reforms, acquisitions…).
How does technology influence you?
Technology is what allows us to be agile with the client and internally. Where the bank can take weeks to give a first response, we do it in a few minutes. In addition, we do not ask for a massive amount of paperwork and we offer entrepreneurs the option of doing everything online, without having to go to an office.
Lendix has been renamed October, why?
In June 2018, we passed our 3rd round of financing of €32M. The objective of this last round was to help us with our international growth, in fact, it was the first time that October included shareholders from outside France. Within the framework of this international expansion, we saw that a name like Lendix had two factors: “Lend” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “to lend”. We want to go beyond the traditional loan and a name like Lendix made us very pigeonholed.
In fact, we have already opened the option of renting. On the other hand, the "ix" had a French connotation. Our origin is French but our identity is European, so we wanted a name that could be said in all languages, generic and not associated with a particular product.
Hence October – the month we were born in France and Spain.
What are your challenges in Spain?
The main challenge is to teach the benefits of this type of financing and show that the diversification of financing sources opens more doors for companies when it comes to growing.
Spain is a highly bank-banked country, and with the changes in the financial sector that have occurred since the crisis, it is essential to teach Spanish companies and help them get out of their comfort zone in order to grow.
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