Small businesses in immediate need of working capital and companies in high-risk industries may be able to find appropriate financial solutions from Strategic Funding.
Strategic Funding was founded in 2006 as a provider of flexible financial products and solutions designed to offer much-needed working capital to small businesses. Currently headquartered in New York City, the lender provides funding to companies in all 50 U.S. states through its online platform backed by a team of funding specialists.
According to its Facebook page, the mission of Strategic Funding is "to be the most trustworthy financial service provider for small to midsize businesses." Executives and employees have prior experience as small business owners and know the struggles such companies face in modern competitive markets. Using this knowledge, Strategic Funding has developed a quick and easy application process to collect the information necessary to match merchants with relevant funding and create flexible payment structures.
Despite citing a belief in transparency, fairness and communication, Strategic Funding provides little information about its application requirements or the lending process as a whole. Its specialists promise to work in close partnership with merchants, using technology to make lending decisions in line with needs and abilities. On-staff small business "owners and advocates" are assigned to work with applicants, listening to their needs and providing financing tailored to their unique requirements.
"Creative and flexible" loans allow Strategic Funding to offer financing to industries with which traditional lenders aren't always willing to work. Therefore, this lender has the potential to be an alternative solution to companies requiring a quick infusion of cash but lacking the credentials to qualify for a bank loan.
The Strategic Funding website doesn't give much information about the lender's policies regarding application and approval. Applicants are encouraged to fill out the online form or call the company to learn about financing options. However, there are some basic requirements in place to determine whether merchants are eligible for funding:
Meeting these parameters shows a company is stable enough to handle regular payments and allows Strategic Financing to offer loans without collateral to those with qualifying financial profiles.
Many fast-cash lenders don't provide prepayment discounts, but Strategic Funding will waive half of the origination fee for merchants able to pay off loans before the end of the terms.
One of the selling points used by Strategic Funding is its ability and willingness to serve companies across many industries, including those to which other lenders typically won't extend funds.
With small business experience of their own, the staff at this lender are aware of how difficult it can be for merchants to obtain funding and are willing to work with companies such as:
Some of the industries served by Strategic Funding count as high-risk due to unstable cash flows and reliance on seasonal income for the majority of working capital. Construction companies, contractors and trucking operations are especially subject to this uncertainty and may have difficulty obtaining loans from traditional lenders like banks and credit unions. Strategic Funding provides a possible alternative when these companies need fast cash to cover common expenses.
Loan terms from Strategic Funding range from 4 to 18 months and are determined during the application and approval process. This is much shorter than the terms offered by banks, credit unions and the Small Business Administration (SBA), which may allow anywhere from 3 to 25 years for repayment. Shorter terms mean higher payments, and businesses already in a financial crunch need to consider if enough revenue will be available to cover short-term loan obligations.
Qualifying for 18-month terms gives merchants the longest time to pay, but payments may still amount to thousands of dollars per week on large loans. Strategic Funding doesn't specify whether it deducts payments daily or weekly, although most short-term online lenders use a daily model and transfer funds through an ACH. Standard practice for MCAs is to take a percentage of daily credit card sales, meaning payment sizes tend to vary. Some short-term lenders are more flexible with terms on MCAs, as well, allowing for the natural fluctuations in credit sales occurring in the types of industries they fund.
Strategic Funding isn't forthcoming about its application or approval requirements, a fault mentioned by others who have reviewed the company's procedures and offerings. Merchants wishing to know more about the amount, rates and terms for which they qualify must fill out a short online application or contact Strategic Funding by phone.
The first part of the prequalification form is positioned at the top of the lender's homepage, making it easy to start the process. Applicants must provide information regarding:
Completing the application requires:
Once this information has been received, a "funding specialist" will call to discuss the financial solutions best suited to the merchant's situation. However, in contrast to other online lenders promising to respond within a day or two, no time window is given by Strategic Funding. The only other information offered is the need for the most recent three months' worth of bank statements to finish processing the application and provide a final loan offer. Applicants must also have at least 51 percent ownership of the company for which the money is being requested.
Turnaround times for funding are reported to be between 2 and 7 days, but Strategic Funding is also not clear about this information. However, because the company is a fast-cash online lender, applicants can reasonably assume funds will be delivered sooner than when working with a traditional institution.
Whereas an interest rate is worked out as a percentage based on the remaining principal of a loan, resulting in a gradual decrease in the proportion of fees to funding, a buy rate defines a specific amount to be paid as a fee on top of the principal. With buy rates of 1.10 to 1.46, Strategic Funding charges a little more than other online lenders offering similar financial solutions.
Merchants should be aware of the potential problems this can cause, especially if cash flow tends to be unreliable. For example, a company taking out a $250,000 loan at a buy rate of 1.45 must pay back a total of $362,500 before the terms are up. This amounts to an additional $112,500, or more than $1,500 per week on a loan with 18-month terms. With a total of more than $5,000 in payments per week for a year and a half, such a loan has the potential to put a company in the red unless its overall financial state is strong or cash flows are expected to improve in the near future.
Loan stacking, in which merchants take on multiple loans from a variety of lenders, is becoming such a prevalent problem in the online lending industry that Reuters ran a story in 2016 detailing the rising concerns among both lenders and industry investors. The amount of revenue going toward payments increases with each loan a business takes on, leaving less and less working capital available for actual operations.
Because of this risk, lenders like Strategic Funding prefer to maintain first-position status and not extend funding to applicants still in debt to other companies. However, Strategic Funding is willing to pay off competitor balances for merchants able to net 50 percent of the loans they request from the company. If a business can provide proof of financial stability and strength allowing it to support multiple payments, this lender may consider a second-position loan.
Strategic Funding charges no documentation fees.
Each loan from Strategic Funding is subject to a 2.5 percent origination fee to cover costs associated with financing.
Merchants in need of more funding before the end of a loan's terms may discuss renewal with Strategic Funding once 50 percent of the initial loan has been paid off. Since Strategic Funding prefers to be a first-position lender, renewal is a better option than attempting to stack financing from multiple companies.
Strategic Funding doesn't offer any form of interest forgiveness to merchants. Buy rates can't easily be converted into interest rates, and borrowers are expected to pay back all fees associated with loan products.
As a provider of business loans, Strategic Funding expects merchants to use funding for relevant expenses. Small business and revenue-based loans may be put toward any kind of cost related to running or growing a company, including covering payroll and purchasing inventory. Neither type of loan requires collateral or equity as backing, and payments are based either on a fixed percentage of sales or a regular structure with flexible options.
Equipment financing is meant to be used to purchase new equipment or upgrade existing equipment. This allows businesses to get access to the latest technology as soon as it becomes available, improve efficiency and increase revenue. No down payment is required on these loans.
Receivables factoring permits merchants to sell an unlimited number of current unpaid invoices to Strategic Funding and receive the full amount right away minus a fee. The lender then handles collection on the receivables, freeing business owners up to focus on more important tasks. This method is preferable for merchants in need of cash but unwilling or unable to take on debt.
Strategic Funding also offers healthcare loans customized to the specific needs of a unique industry. Called Helix, this funding is extended to "healthcare professionals who own and run their practices," including alternative practitioners like chiropractors. Approval is given within 24 hours, and funding is made available in 3 days.
Feedback regarding Strategic Funding ranges from excellent to poor across popular review sites. Trustpilot exhibits the most favorable opinion with an 8.5 out of 10 rating and largely positive comments. Other sites show mixed reactions:
Praise for the company cites efficient and effective funding methods, a quick and easy loan process and fast delivery of funds. Several Strategic Funding staff members are praised by name for their service. The company is highly responsive to this feedback.
Negative reviews state the company has problems with internal communications and engages in questionable practices, such as rushing the application process, giving applicants' information to other companies, taking money out of business accounts before agreements are signed and changing the rules by which the loan process is governed. Few of these reviews have received responses from Strategic Funding.
This absence of social proof makes it difficult to evaluate Libertas Funding based on the experiences of its customers. However, because the company is fairly new on the fast working capital scene, it may take some time for reviews to appear. Clients currently working with Libertas Funding can leave feedback to help others looking for loans make the decision as to whether this particular lender is right for their business needs.
Strategic Funding is a licensed California lender and provides financial services in all 50 U.S. states. Members of the staff have contributed content to highly respected online outlets such as Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur.