Entrepreneurs often thrive in circumstances where traditional, established companies struggle – Microsoft, General Electric and Disney were all started during recessions.
Nonetheless, 2008 was a precarious time to set up a mortgage business – as LendInvest co-founders Christian Faes and Ian Thomas candidly pointed out during a recent Leap 100 Breakfast.
Although the online marketplace model had been proven to work – Amazon and eBay had been established over a decade earlier – LendInvest was initially both “offline” and “pretty uninteresting”. It wasn’t until 2012, with £30m investors’ capital under management, that the founders became intrigued by the role tech could play. Fintech was on the rise, and companies like Seedrs acted as inspiration. Tech could create a faster borrower experience, and building an online, easy-to-use investment platform could attract a wider pool of investors.
LendInvest uses tech to match lenders and borrowers. In the early years, its bread and butter was supplying bridging finance to property investors; more recently it has branched into development finance, funding SME property developers to build houses across the UK, and offering buy-to-let mortgages.
On the investor side, the firm offers four broad channels: a Luxembourg-domiciled fund, an online investment platform for UK-based high net worth and qualified investors, multiple traditional funding loans from banks, and a retail bond that was listed last year on the London Stock Exchange.