The next wave of Lending Fintechs: Alt Lending 3.0

LendIt 2016 featured a competition among the next wave of online finance startups that will be leading the industry forward.  PitchIt@LendIt featured eight entrepreneurs competing on the Main Stage on Day One of LendIt 2016.  The eight finalists, as selected by the LendIt judges from nearly one hundred submissions, have launched companies that are planning to disrupt everything from buying a car to helping fresh-produce farmers manage their cash flow.

According to LendIt, “PitchIt @ LendIt was open to all high-growth startups focused on lending­related innovation that was founded between 2014 and 2016.  Applicants had to have a working prototype with customer interaction, have secured less than $5 million in funding, and have at least two full­time founders.”

“PitchIt @ LendIt attracts thousands of investors, asset managers, funds, and entrepreneurs, bringing together a community of influencers in the lending marketplace. The finalists [pitched] to LendIt’s esteemed panel of judges from the venture capital community: Frank Rotman, Founding Partner, QED Investors; David Weiden, Partner, Khosla Ventures; Nick Shalek, Partner, Ribbit Capital; Chris Bishko, Partner, Omidyar Technology Ventures; and Joe Chen, CEO, Renren.”

Each of the eight finalists was paired with mentors to help the companies refine their pitches, prepare for the competition, and to provide advice and support to the budding entrepreneurs.  I was lucky enough to be one of the mentors to the LogicFi team.  More about LogicFi is below.

Each of the eight finalists had 13 minutes up on the big stage – five minutes to present followed by eight minutes of Q&A from the judges.  There were two rounds of votes cast: one set of votes by the panel of judges, and the other set of votes cast by the audience.


The Judges’ Choice went to AutoFi (, a company that is creating a solution for car buyers and auto dealers to help streamline the car buying process through financing.  As Jonathan Palan, co-founder and president, explains of AutoFi, the company “allows consumer to finance a vehicle entirely online, while allowing dealers to also sell a car online, and also close the sale online, instead of at the store front.”



The Audience Choice went to LogicFi (, a company that provides an end-to-end digital lending platform that empowers financial institutions to enter, compete, and succeed in online lending.  Perhaps it was the incredible mentoring that the team received from myself and Kathryn Petralia (co-founder and Head of Operations at Kabbage) leading up to the competition (just kidding), but more likely it was the team, the business plan, and execution to date that resulted in the audience choice award for LogicFi. LogicFi is led by co-founder Michael Perkins, a prior risk and product development advisor for Emerge Financial Wellness, Inc.


Below are summaries of the other six finalists.  They each had very thoughtful and creative business ideas, and I have no doubt that we will be hearing more about each of them over the coming months:



Akouba ( provides community and regional banks an underwriting platform for small business loans, in order to reduce end-to-end time, increase profits and give bank customers a better experience.

citrus credit

Citrus Credit’s ( mission is to get people access to fair and relevant capital.  Citrus bills itself as “the easiest way to shop and save on a personal loan.”  Citrus is not a lender, but uses its experience and knowledge of what lenders want to give borrowers the information they need to make a decision on a new loan.  Citrus is a data driven company that constantly is searching for the best partners for consumers.



Income& ( is reinventing the idea of fixed-income investing.  Traditional fixed-income options feature either frustratingly low yields or exceedingly high risk.  That’s why Income& invented the PRIMO™ (or Prime-Rated Individual Mortgage-backed Obligation), a new kind of investment with high yields and low risk.  With the launch of PRIMOs, they’re bringing America a superior way to invest.  Sort of like investing in fractional loans with LendingClub, you can invest in fractional mortgages with Income&.




ProducePay (, founded by Pablo Borquez Schwarzbeck, a fourth-generation farmer, improves the financial and cash management solutions available to farmers (growers) around the world.  ProducePay offers various cash flow solutions allowing fresh produce farmers (growers) to be paid the day after they ship instead of 30-45 days later.  Its cash flow solutions also benefit distributors by relieving the burden of providing advance payments to select growers.  Additionally, ProducePay matches fresh-produce buyers with sellers creating new trading relationships and helping companies compete and grow.



StreamLoan ( aims to make the loan (purchase & refinance) process simple, efficient, and digital for both the lender and customer, embedded across all loan transactions.  Starting with home mortgages, StreamLoan provides the easiest way to purchase or refinance your home.  StreamLoan offers a full digital experience and mobile solution, removing the friction in the lending process.  Its collaboration & chat platform, auto-document aggregation, and sharing & policy management allow for an efficient and simple experience for all professionals involved in supporting a loan or mortgage.


Ziero ( aims to help employers offer the perk of interest free loans to its employees by providing a digital platform for both an employer and its employees.  Ziero allows employers to provide these loans without any capital commitment or time spent managing the loans.  It provides employers with a platform to handle loan administration, repayments & servicing, legal paperwork, and Ziero’s partners provide the capital.  It provides employee borrowers with a simplified process with no manual Paperwork, a five-minute application process, and makes funding available in 24-36 hours.


Author: Mark Smith

mark d smith

About the author

George Popescu

Serial entrepreneur.

George sold and exited his most successful company, Boston Technologies (BT) group, in 2014. BT was a technology, market maker, high-frequency trading and inter-broker broker-dealer in the FX Spot, precious metals and CFDs space company. George was the Founder and CEO and he boot-strapped from $0 to a $20+ million in revenue without any equity investment. BT has been #1 fastest growing company in Boston in 2011 according to the Boston Business Journal and the only company being in top 10 fastest in 2012-13 as it was #5 in 2012. BT has been on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US for 4 years in a row ( #143, #373, #897 and #1270). After the company sale in July 2014 until February 2015 George was Head-of-Strategy for Currency Mountain ( ), a USD 100 million+ holding company focused on retail and medium institutional currencies, precious metals, stocks, fixed income and commodities businesses.

• Over the last 10 years, George founded 10 companies in online lending, craft beer brewery, exotic sports car rental space, hedge funds, peer-reviewed scientific journal ( Journal of Cellular and Molecular medicine…) and more. George advised 30+ early stage start-ups in different fields. George was also a mentor at MIT’s Venture Mentoring Services and Techstar Fintech in NY.

• Previously George obtained 3 Master's Degrees: a Master's of Science from MIT working on 3D printing, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Supelec, France and a Master's in Nanosciences from Paris XI University. Previously he worked as a visiting scientist at MIT in Bio-engineering for 2 years. George had 3 undergrad majors: Maths, Physics and Chemistry. His scientific career led to about 10 publications and patents.

• On the business side, Boston Business Journal has named me in the top 40 under 40 in 2012 in recognition of his business achievements.

• George is originally from Romania and grew up in Paris, France.

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