January 30, 2024 3 min read

Securing Capital For Your Commercial Lending Program

Blog Post Asset W2 Copy
Industry Insights

Canopy recently hosted a live panel with Kevin Phillips, EVP and General Manager at Novo, and Conor Witt, Vice President at Upper90. You can listen to the full webinar here or read our recap below.

The Canopy Team
Fintech Contributing Author
In the latest installment of our Commercial Lending Webinar Series, we dove into the complexities and opportunities of today’s lending environment. We had the distinct privilege of speaking with two leading figures in the space – Kevin Phillips from Novo, a trailblazer in neo-banking and lending innovation, and Conor Witt from Upper90, renowned for their asset-based lending that helps founders retain company ownership. 
This in-depth conversation offered a piercing look into the nuanced challenges and evolving strategies essential for securing capital in an increasingly dynamic and unpredictable financial landscape. This session was not just a learning opportunity; it was a window into the minds of those shaping the future of commercial lending.

Not one size fits all

Something that truly stood out in the conversation was the variety of methods available for securing capital. Conor shed light on Upper90’s approach to supporting early-stage companies. By focusing on tangible assets like loans or receivables, they’re crafting a path to efficient growth for their portfolio.
Kevin brought a different angle to the table, discussing the strategic use of equity in the initial stages of lending. His insights into various debt instruments painted a vivid picture of the lending ecosystem, from rallying high-net-worth individuals to navigating through the complexities of early-stage debt funds and dedicated credit facilities.
He also reminisced about the traditional ways of securing capital in fintech, highlighting how tactics have shifted since the financial crisis. This was particularly thought-provoking, as it underscored the importance of expertise in credit management to attract affordable funding.

The changing face of lending

Our discussion seamlessly transitioned into exploring the significant evolution of the lending scene. Conor, with his unique journey from a fintech analyst to a debt specialist, shed light on Upper90’s innovative approach. “We aim to provide credit earlier to companies with assets and predictable revenue,” he explained, underlining a shift from traditional equity reliance. 
Meanwhile, Kevin highlighted the challenge of balancing venture capital’s growth-focused nature with the prudent nature of lending. He emphasized the benefits of a multi-product platform, explaining, “It allows for multiple touchpoints with customers, reducing dependency solely on lending for revenue.”
Regarding funding timelines, Kevin pointed out, “getting a credit facility does take time.” He emphasized the power shift in negotiations when you have cash reserves from existing business operations. Conor agreed, highlighting the importance of speed, certainty, and flexibility in lending.

Steering clear of common pitfalls

Some of the most valuable takeaways of our conversation centered on common mistakes in securing debt. For example, Conor pointed out the impracticality of chasing large credit facilities without practical considerations. Meanwhile, Kevin advised against focusing solely on low interest rates and high advance rates, advocating instead for a focus on flexibility and adaptability in early business stages.
Both Conor and Kevin emphasized the significance of viewing lenders as long-term partners. It’s about building relationships that go beyond mere financial transactions. Regular communication, alignment of goals, and flexibility are key to nurturing these partnerships.

Building a sustainable path in commercial lending

In wrapping up our conversation, it became clear that the journey of securing capital in the fintech world is as much about strategy and relationships as it is about financial savviness. The insights shared by Kevin and Conor demonstrate the need for flexibility in financial arrangements, transparency in communication, and the importance of building strong, enduring partnerships with lenders. It’s a nuanced, dynamic world out there, and navigating it successfully requires a blend of knowledge, foresight, and strategic collaboration.
Have questions for the Canopy team about standing up or optimizing your commercial lending products?