Ask any small business owner, it’s tough to start a business. You simply need initial money in order to start making money. While most banks are wary of giving out loans willy-nilly, there is one company stepping up to the plate trying to get you the loans you need to start your business. Camino Financial, the credit marketplace creates customizable options based on your needs. With their incredibly high customer satisfaction, one look at the founders’ story will make you fall in love with this company.
Hoping to solve the problem of their childhood, CEO Sean Salas tells LATechWatch about how he and his brother Kenneth started the business.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a $750,000 seed round from a group of private and institutional investors, with Collaborative Fund as our anchor investor.
Tell us about your product or service.
Camino Financial is a credit marketplace matching small businesses with the most affordable funding option offered by its network of reputable lenders. The Company specializes in originating loans for first-time business borrowers who cannot get a loan from a bank, and provides ongoing credit monitoring and advice to ensure clients improve their business credit in an effort to qualify for a bank loan.
What inspired you to start the company?
My mother was a small business owner that struggled to maintain a chain of Mexican Restaurants. My twin brother and I founded Camino Financial to give business owners the resources, expertise and capital required to grow sustainably. So that now business owners (and their children) will never have to endure the hardships of a failing small business.
How is it different?
We focus on servicing the underbanked Hispanic business segment. The entirety of our business platform is anchored around delivering an integrated customer experience to the Hispanic business owner, from credit underwriting to marketing to bilingual customer service.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We focus on servicing the underbanked Hispanic business segment. We estimate the unmet credit demand of Hispanic-owned businesses exceeds $6 billion.
What’s your business model?
Camino Financial is a marketplace for non-bank and bank lenders. We help our clients shop and compare loans available among our network of reputable lenders and earn a fee per loan origination.
What was the funding process like?
Difficult, we reached out to over 100 investors and friends. To say the least, we got over 100 No’s.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Balancing fundraising with running the business during, what may be, it’s most critical time.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The TEAM and VISION (in that order).
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our core focus is ramping up our sales and marketing efforts to further demonstrate market demand and scalability. We are also actively seeking strategic partnerships with large corporations who have aligned interests in servicing the underbanked Hispanic business segment.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Run as quickly as possible to earning your customer’s business. You don’t need the “perfect” product to get started.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Become the first funding source of scale for the underbanked Hispanic business community.
What’s your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
The York in Highland Park. Love this place: chill, cool crowd, good food, great beer selection, and down the street from where I live. If that wasn’t enough: live music (on occasion) and rotating Art Work.