The latter is part of the broader world of participatory financing, or crowdfunding. It allows private investors to invest directly in small structures, handpicked by an intermediary: Look Fin is this intermediary between lenders and borrowers.
Today the leader in crowd lending in Belgium, Look Fin is also present in France and Luxembourg. Since its creation, the company has grown by 100% every year and has collected more than 140 million euros by financing more than 430 projects.
In this podcast we receive Dominique Wroblewski, COO of Look Fin, who goes into more detail about the history and development of the company.
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Chapter 1: Looked in 1 key figure
1, 5 million.
1.5 million euros collected in the space of 19 seconds. Here is the number that best symbolizes the dazzling entrepreneurial success of Look Fin. This jackpot is all the more striking when we know that this structure depends on individual investors.
From Dominique Wroblewski’s point of view, the magnitude of this amount is explained by two elements:
On the platform side, the strong financing capacities offered by professional ghostwriters.
- And on the market side, the interest of individuals and companies for crowd lending. This therefore reflects the existence of high demand in this finch segment. Also, crowdfunding is a good way to gauge the market appeal of your product or service (as we saw during our podcasts with the co-founders of 900.care and Type wise).
Chapter 2: the genesis of the entrepreneurial idea
Look Fin owes its entrepreneurial idea to its founders Frederic Levy Morelli (the partner of Dominique Wroblewski) and Olivier Beranger (historic shareholder of Look Fin).
Both came from the world of finance and had the idea of creating a bond market for unlisted companies and allowing SMEs to contract “mezzanine debt”.
As a reminder, mezzanine debt, also known as junior debt, has two particularities. The first is that it allows the creditor to benefit from credit at a much higher rate than on senior debts, that is to say debts contracted with banks. The second is that it does not offer a guarantee, unlike senior debt, so it is a riskier investment for individuals.
Before the arrival of Look Fin, it was complicated for individuals to access such loans. To tell the truth, the procedures for such operations were previously quite complicated, costly (in time and money), and therefore, too unprofitable on small baskets.
Streamlining and Taylor zing mezzanine debt processes to make them more profitable and accessible, this is Look Fin’s added value.
Chapter 3: validation of the entrepreneurial idea
However, we are not talking here about unmet demand by market players. The founders of Look Fin actually realized that certain foreign structures were already acting as intermediaries between small portfolios and small businesses.
This was particularly the case of Lending Club, an American player in the community credit market (or P2P lending), which was then experiencing a good dynamic. It was by noticing the good results of this type of company that the founders of Look Fin became convinced of the success that the crowd lending market promised them.
A bit like in a lot of trades or companies in general. We come up with an idea and we say to ourselves that we have the unique idea and that it is the best, and if we look a little around, we notice it and it is often in Anglo-Saxon countries that the idea exists directly or indirectly.
Chapter 4: Getting Started
Without a previously structured investment fund, Look Fin then left it up to private investors to invest directly in SMEs. This is precisely where the shoe pinched for the first months of this crowd lending platform. It was indeed necessary to convince small companies to engage with a partner without a portfolio of investors, while prospecting individuals, without however having customer files to offer them. Moreover, Dominique Wroblewski will tell us on this subject: “it’s a bit like the Cornelian dilemma of the chicken or the egg”.
Consequently, the company’s first files were more in the nature of roadshows with circles of investors, with the aim of explaining to them the concept behind Look Fin. By doing this, the founders were able to build a growing notoriety for their structure.
So begins a virtuous circle of growth for Look Fin, the notoriety of the platform has made it more stable, financially speaking. As a result, monthly payments are increasingly returning to the pockets of individuals, who now see Look Fin as a safe and very advantageous investment. Investors then enter a process of repeat buying: they feel that the new gold rush is happening on Look Fin.
Le Saint-Allayed was one of the company’s very first projects. This Brussels bakery was able to provide them with a loan capacity, thanks to the brand’s recognition at the local level. Dominique Wroblewski considers it an opportunity to work with them, since they have given confidence in the project and the Look Fin platform.
Look Fin then experienced its start-up phase, with significant financing capacities and a more than positive balance. It was now a matter of looking for projects. And it was a successful mission for this structure: it has achieved 100% growth almost every year since its launch.
This development of Look Fin was not made possible thanks to its marketing resources, but rather thanks to word of mouth. Both borrowers and lenders have therefore spread the word to enable the company to be built on solid foundations.
Chapter 5: take off
For Dominique Wroblewski, the take-off is not observed through the annual figures of the company, but rather through its structuring.
Although it is initially easy to absorb growth with a very artisanal approach, it is eventually necessary to think of something else, to see further, and to structure the crowd lending platform by imagining more efficient processes.
This year, Look Fin crossed the threshold of 100,000 individual loan contracts. Such a figure involves ensuring the proper repayment of lenders, which represents a lot of work each month. In order to best manage this load, it means adopting semi-automated, if not automated, processes.
Chapter 6: the future
For 2022, Look Fin’s ambitions are as follows:
- Maintaining its growth rate
- Reach 100 million euros in funding
- Obtain European approval
- Develop your business in a new country (and several countries for the years to come)
The current monetary situation can be synonymous with opportunities for crowd lending and for Look Fin.
The first of these opportunities is the drying up of funding. On this subject, Dominique Wroblewski tells us about the launch of a new product, jointly developed with the Belgian regions. The principle is as follows: allow companies to contract junior debt, by creating profitability on the tax credit, for the lenders. Here, Look Fin was able to appropriate a product not used by local investors, in order to distribute it more actively within the regions.
The second of these opportunities could well be a rate hike. Dominique Wroblewski observes an inertia at the level of savings; he has this feeling that rates tend to rise on the borrower side, even before increasing on the lender side. Knowing that the search for the right files to put forward remains a complex and time-consuming task, this rise in rates therefore looks like an opportunity for memoir ghostwriters.
A podcast to help you develop your start-up
The “Entrepreneurship and Marketing” podcast traces the different stages in the life of a promising startup. By identifying the key elements of success at each phase of startup development, we help you find solutions for your business.
The podcast is divided into 4 to 6 minute chapters. Each chapter is devoted to a specific theme or phase of development. You can therefore listen to the entire podcast or choose to listen to only part of it by directly choosing the one that interests you the most. You can also find the video version of the interview on our YouTube channel.