By Sandy Miller, James Newell and Kelly O’Kane
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin
Today, IVP announced our participation in a $200 million financing round in SoFi, the company revolutionizing consumer lending for early career professionals. Stemming from a successful student loan refinance program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, SoFi has since expanded its product set to mortgages, personal loans and MBA loans. To date, it has originated more than $1.75 billion in total loans. Today, SoFi is the largest student loan refinance provider, the third largest private student lender in the United States and is quickly becoming a preeminent financial services firm.
IVP is a leading later-stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA. We have been backing disruptive companies that transform industries since 1980. Our approach is to invest in 10 to 12 of the most dynamic and promising companies across all technology sectors annually, a strategy that remains in place as we invest IVP XIV, a $1 billion fund.
Over the past few years, IVP has developed specific franchise expertise in disruptive financial technology companies, with investments in Indiegogo, Klarna, Personal Capital, Prosper, OnDeck and Oportun – and now we are excited to welcome SoFi to the IVP portfolio.
Access to capital has evolved over the past few years as millennials have demanded more convenient banking solutions and simpler credit options. Financial technology companies, like SoFi, are taking advantage of the void left by the traditional banking infrastructure and have stepped up to serve early career professionals. Here are a few reasons why we believe SoFi is well positioned to own the banking relationship for this demographic:
Pomp and Circumstance – The Graduation March to High Interest Payments
Higher education remains as important as ever but rising tuition costs are leaving graduates under crushing debt loads. Student borrowers average $33,000 in student loan debt upon graduation and advanced degrees can add up to an additional $90,000 on average. There is $1.1 trillion in student debt outstanding in the US, which recently surpassed credit card debt as the largest source of consumer debt excluding mortgages. SoFi is helping to unburden our indebted graduates by saving SoFi members an average of about $12,000 by refinancing their existing loans.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Typically, high credit-potential members are denied attractive credit from financial institutions because of the firms’ strict adherence to lending policies defined by traditional risk models. Time is the true enemy of these individuals, who exhibit many characteristics of prime credit candidates – gainful employment and advanced degrees – but don’t have many years of credit history to prove their creditworthiness. SoFi has crafted an alternative and nontraditional risk model, based on merit, employee history and other factors, to offer rates that are customized to reflect the superior credit of their members. In turn, SoFi realizes the benefits of a strong referral network driven by their members’ positive product experiences – 40% of new borrowers are referred by a friend.
From Student Loans to First Homes
SoFi’s initial touch point with a member often begins with student loan refinance but, once identified, SoFi’s borrower has access to a number of other products on the platform, including mortgages and personal loans. Given that SoFi’s products are designed specifically for early career professionals, the total SoFi experience is hard to match. For mortgages, SoFi offers low down payments and loans of up to $3 million to enable its members to pursue homeownership in highly desirable urban areas. Its personal loans of up to $100,000 help borrowers free themselves from the cycle of high interest debt and allow them to invest in what matters to them most – whether that’s relocation, a wedding or home improvement.
No Borrower Left Behind
SoFi caters to the entire lending lifecycle of their target member from student loan refinance to mortgages and personal loans, but perhaps more importantly, SoFi has created a platform to support its borrowers when they face financial hardship from unemployment. SoFi’s Career Services team actively works with the rare unemployed borrower to quickly find suitable employment and offers career support for borrowers looking to change jobs. To date, SoFi has helped more than 60 SoFi members secure new jobs through its career support program and aided over 20 entrepreneurs in starting businesses.
High Impact Management Team
SoFi is led by an exceptional team of experienced executives and accomplished entrepreneurs. Mike Cagney, SoFi’s founder and CEO, also founded Cabezon Capital Markets, a hedge fund complex and Finaplex, a leader in wealth management software that was sold to Broadridge. He also spent many years at Wells Fargo, serving as head trader of its proprietary trading and financial product group. Nino Fanlo, SoFi’s CFO and COO, was the Treasurer at Wells Fargo and CEO of KKR Financial. General Counsel Rob Lavet, CMO Aimee Young and Tony Morosini, head of product development, round out the senior team. Together, Mike and Nino have big aspirations for SoFi and are backed by a strong and growing 200+ team to execute against their vision.
IVP is proud to join forces with SoFi as they become the de facto standard for credit and wealth management for early career professionals.
Sandy Miller is a General Partner at IVP. He led the firm’s investment in many high profile companies such as Datalogix, FleetMatics, ngmoco, OnDeck, One Kings Lane, Prosper, Supercell, and Zynga. James Newell is a Vice President and Kelly O’Kane is a Senior Associate at IVP.