Fintech News

An Interview with Kunal Sehgal, CEO of Thrive

Thrive is building modern lending infrastructure. In this Interview, Thrive’s CEO explains their goal of making the lending process efficient and frictionless for both borrowers and lenders.

1) How did Thrive start and where did the idea come from?

Thrive started as a direct lender in early 2015. As we saw the direct / fintech market evolve, we shifted our focus away from both the credit and customer acquisition risk and focused our resources on re-imaging the lending experience for traditional institutions.

2) In which countries / markets is Thrive currently operating in?

Currently in the U.S, but we are seeing a lot of international interest.

3) How did you finance your fintech start-up?

Friends and family as well as strategic investors

4) What makes Thrive’s loans different from those given by banks and other companies? Why would borrowers prefer you?

We do not lend any capital. We are instead focused on making the application, underwriting and origination process more efficient for traditional lenders (both bank and non-bank)

5) What are your thoughts on the increasing number of fintech start-ups – do fintechs like Thrive represent an opportunity or a threat to banks?

The fintech market will continue to see growth. Financial processes, systems and experiences continue to lag behind the current innovation cycles across various industries that have been facilitated by technology. I believe that fintech and traditional financial institutions can have a symbiotic relationship and each can benefit from their respective strengths.

6) Recently, Thrive partnered with Horizon Community Bank (HCB), a leading Arizona-based FDIC insured bank and subsidiary of Horizon Bancorp, Inc. What benefits do you see in partnering with this bank?

Thrive’s technology will power and enable Horizon to originate small business loans significantly more efficiently. Today, this process took weeks / months and is still very manual process oriented. Since our launch with Horizon, applications are being submitted in less than 10 minutes, decision are made in less than 1 day and 88% of those decisions are fully automated. Customers have applauded the experience and we think this can occur across the lending stack (small business, consumer, commercial real estate, etc.) while also driving new deposit relationships.

7) Since it was founded in December 8, 2014, what is Thrives’ greatest achievement?

Pivoting and refocusing on pure tech / infrastructure. Additionally, as a young company, having a bank believe in our product / vision with a commitment as a customer and investor is huge achievement and, I believe, validates our vision.

8) What factors do you consider before lending?

We do not lend. Banks / lenders are able, via our tech, to configure customizable credit metrics and data variables into our platform to drive their own credit decision processes.

9) What does the average small business owner need to know about the lending landscape today?

In the future, getting a loan will be as (relatively) easy as getting an Uber or sending a payment via Venmo.  This does not entail reckless lending – the availability of digitized data and continued growth in AI and machine learning will allow essential decision points to be analyzed instantly.

10) What are some of the challenges that Thrive is facing?

We are adapting to longer sales cycles, but that comes with the enterprise territory.

11) What’s next for Thrive? / What do you see happening in the fintech industry in next two years?

Thrive will continue to scale its product and modernize the lending process by focusing ‘under the hood’ versus lending directly.

Many of the smaller scale direct lenders will consolidate or fail due to customer acquisition and capital side issues. I believe that there is a real lack of differentiation between many fintech lenders and this will ultimately be their undoing. As a whole, I believe the fintech sector will continue to evolve / grow. Partnerships, not M&A, will drive much of this growth and value creation.

12) What advice can you give entrepreneurs who want to venture into the fintech sector in the future?

Focus on the signal, not the noise. Do not be afraid to change from your initial vision – be proactively reactive.

For more information, please visit the thrive website www.tothrive.com

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