August 23rd, 2013 Lenddo
It’s not too often you meet an angel investor and a founder at the same time, but Jeff Stewart, who has started half a dozen companies, knows a thing or two how being both has worked to his advantage.
You don’t hear developers say this as much but Stewart says it, “You just don’t need technology talent. You need marketing talent, too.” Stewart was speaking at The Hatchery meetup’s Friday speaker series last August 23.
Stewart is an angel investor who also happens to have a startup called Lenddo.com with co-founder Richard Eldridge. It’s an online platform that helps the emerging middle class use their social connections to build their creditworthiness and access local financial services.
With chief scientist Dr. Naveen Agnihotri, Lenddo is banking on a person’s trustworthiness than a credit score based on his or her social graph. However, Lenddo does not facilitate lending between members. “We lend our own capital and the capital of our investors and partners,” he said.
The Philippines and Colombia are the two countries that Lenddo has focused on but it is also looking to expand in other emerging economies.
The company takes the wealth of data from your many social networks (including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), looks at the people in your Lenddo Trusted Network (family, friends, co-workers), verifies you have a full-time job, and uses predictive algorithms to confirm your identity and calculate if you are a risk.
The site reportedly uses the following algorithms: Bayesian (pattern matching), validators (identity verification, other information provided), and homophily (the study of bonding with others of the same persuasion).
At present, Lenddo offers only loans in the Philippines and Colombia. “In the Philippines, the average loan is $400,” Stewart said. The loans are used for tuition, health care or repairs after a natural disaster, such as the floods in the Philippines.
Being matched with the right investors is important. Lenddo’s investors include Accel Partners, Blumberg Capital, Omidyar Network, iNovia and Metamorphic Partners - some of the same investors behind the world’s top technology companies, from Facebook and Groupon to Kiva and Prosper.
Since Steward is an angel investor, he offered some tips for those looking to form their own startups:
• Having a great team is absolutely critical
• Start a company you are passionate about
• “Over-invest” in research
• Know that a good business will get funded
• Get advice from those who have succeeded
On finding a business partner, he said it’s not always Macaroni and cheese, but realize that good investors can also connect you good co-founders.