Nav Co-Founder and CEO, Levi King, understands at a very personal level the importance of access to affordable, transparent credit. “I started and successfully sold five small businesses in my twenties in the restaurant, hotel, and manufacturing spaces,” says Levi. “As a serial small business owner I had to deal with the nuances of getting loans. I got all different types of commercial financing from SBA loans to commercial credit cards to equipment leases.” After several frustrating experiences trying to access financing, Levi decided to do something about the dearth of capital access. The result is Nav.com.
Started by Levi and his cofounder Caton Hanson in 2012, Nav.com and its mobile app gives small business owners free access to easy-to-read personal and business credit reports and monitoring all in one spot. It also provides tools to build business credit and analyze cash flow, and a marketplace that matches users to lending options based on their approval odds. This all makes it much easier for business owners to get affordable funding, lower their costs and save time. Nav’s guiding principles in doing this are complete transparency and efficacy. “Our goal,” says Levi, is to help you understand, improve, protect, and take advantage of your credit and financial data so we can bring transparency to B to B commerce and lending.”
This focus on transparency in financing and credit monitoring stems from Levi’s experiences as an entrepreneur, “As a small business owner I’ve lived the pain of trying to figure out complicated financing documents,” states Levi. “If you don’t have that experience, it’s east to just say, ‘These borrowers will figure it out. Surely, they know what they’re doing!’ but the truth is that they don’t.”
Compounding the confusion that can accompany obtaining financing is the spread of new financial products and technologies geared towards small business owners. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Levi has seen both positive and negative growth in the commercial lending space. On the positive side, technological innovation has expanded capital access with new products and reduced time to funding. In the flip side, the transparency and consumer protection issues that have always challenged the industry have also scaled up. These trends are reflected in the experiences of Nav’s clients such as Leticia Giron, owner of Belleza and Beauty.
Belleza and Beauty is a wholesaler of beauty equipment that sells to spa owners, doctors, and distributors. After running a successful business with robust revenue streams for 21 years, getting an SBA or bank loan should have been within easy reach for an entrepreneur like Leticia. Having had trouble accessing affordable business credit, Leticia used her savings and personal credit cards to finance her business. Things came to a head when her main vendor increased his prices and started marketing at the same trade shows where she would sell her wares. She needed to diversify her product lines and expand her business online but couldn’t find the financing.
So, Leticia signed up for Nav. Once she logged on she saw that both her personal and commercial credit scores showed late-payments and negative marks which had been taken care of a long time ago. “Through their Nav portal,” says Levi, “our customers can dispute negative credit marks and get issues taken care of all in one place.” With the assistance of Nav, she was able to take access an SBA loan and finally get the credit she needed to expand her business.
Nav has built its own success on the success of the small business owners it serves. This absolute commitment to transparency and responsible capital access is what makes them a Signatory of the Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights.
We thank Nav for taking the time to talk with us about their business development work and the importance of the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights in the small business lending Industry.
If you are interested in learning more about the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your organization is currently a signatory or endorser of the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights and would like to be featured in our blog, please contact Gabriel at Gabriel@opportunityfund.org.