Growth for Quick Bridge Funding LLC was fast but not too fast.
“Disciplined” is the word Jason Osiecki used to describe the recent growth achieved by the young company, an Orange-based short-term alternative lender where he serves as vice president.
Quick Bridge has grown from its origin as a two-man shop in 2011—when it notched $145,000 in revenue—to a workforce of nearly 70 looking at closing out the year with $45 million.
The Business Journal has taken a snapshot of the company’s growth, taking the percentage spread between the 12-month period through June 2012 and the same span ending in June. The 2,236% increase from $1.5 million to $34.7 million put the company in the No. 1 spot on the list of the fastest-growing midsize businesses with headquarters in Orange County (see list, page 34).
“All this growth, it was by design,” Osiecki said. “We had disciplined growth. We set up the processes and systems in 2011, 2012, and the growth was built on that. For example, we didn’t go get some software and try to make it fit with our operations, but we wanted to use some more elbow grease, if you will, and created our own software that runs exactly in line with what we’re doing.”
Quick Bridge provides working capital to small and midsize businesses, with a focus on the short term. Its loans, whose terms average four to 10 months, range from about $5,000 to $200,000 and are used for various purposes, such as purchasing inventory and bridging gaps due to seasonal changes.
Loan originations have grown along with revenues over the years, said President Ben Gold, who is also cofounder along with Osiecki and two others. The firm originated $1 million worth of loans in 2011, jumping to $19 million and $81 million in the following two years, respectively. It projects this year’s volume will be about $130 million.
“We focus specifically on user experience and efficiency,” Osiecki said. “We tinker with the products to see if it will be friendly to the users. We’re customer focused, and that’s the real driver to our growth.”
Gold also pointed to “good timing” as another key factor that pushed business along.
“It was a good time to lend money in general when we opened, and it’s been a good time to do that during the past two, three years,” he said, noting the generally strong demand for alternative lending after the recession. He added that the company recently raised $35 million from a bank in Southern California to help expand its lending programs. “The need is there [for our services] as an alternative lender” to commercial banks, he said.
Such a need was identified not only by Gold and Osiecki but also by their former bosses, who brought the team together about four years ago.
Gold at the time was working at Alliance Funding Group, an equipment leasing company in Orange owned by Brij Patel. Osiecki was at San Diego-based National Funding, which also focused on equipment leasing and is headed by David Gilbert.
“Dave and Brij knew each other, and they brought Jason and me along,” Gold said.
Patel and Gilbert are primary equity owners of Quick Bridge. They continue to run their respective companies—Patel is president at Alliance Funding, and Gilbert is chief executive at National—and serve in advisory positions for Quick Bridge.
Having the connection to Patel and Gilbert’s business and networking ties helped Quick Bridge take off, Gold said.
“National and Alliance market to small-business owners, and we were able to tap into their lead flow and monetize that in our own portfolio,” he said.
Gold said he and Osiecki “didn’t have this grand plan for scale” when they set out. “Still, what we were doing was working. Our portfolio was performing, and business was profitable early on. There were all these positive indicators that made us try to grow the company.”
Quick Bridge made its first hire in 2012, and last year it began to focus on “building out a C-suite,” Gold said.
It tapped Robert Weening as chief financial officer last September. Weening, who has spent more than 30 years in the financial services industry, was most recently CFO at Meracord, a payment processing services firm in Tacoma, Wash.
Nicholas Roberto joined recently as senior vice president, credit and operations. His 20-year experience includes senior-level roles in the Pennsylvania office of Netherlands-based De Lage Landen Financial Services Inc. and a stint at American Express Equipment Finance in Irvine.
Quick Bridge is looking to reach about 100 employees in the next three quarters, in line with anticipated growth in loan demand.
“The alternative lending industry is five times what it was in 2008, and it is exponentially growing as small-business owners transition their allegiance and trust from bank lending to private funding sources such as our own,” Gold said. “We will continue to expand our technology division to efficiently handle underwriting and credit processing, while at the same time adding relationship managers to personally work with our borrowers.”