During the financial crisis, Ami Kassar was working with a company that issues credit cards to small businesses. Coming out of the fire, he thought there must be a more transparent way to help business owners with lending.
“When we started [MultiFunding] we rented an office in the office of a CPA. We started knocking on doors looking for deals,” says Ami. “In the first year, we closed three loans. It was a lot of banging our heads against walls as we started to build our reputation and relationships with lenders.”
Six years later, MultiFunding is still a good old fashioned loan broker, but they are now closing 170 transactions a year.
“We don’t have one ideal customer,” says Ari of the market they serve. “Our whole mission is to get businesses bankable over time if they are not there now.” He says a great customer is open to good advice and willing to listen.
Honesty as a Business Model
Speaking to the stereotype of the loan broker, Ami stresses the importance of keeping customer values aligned with the business. “This gets harder as you grow,” he says. “We try to talk anyone out of working with us if they want to get rich quickly.”
A borrower getting put into an expensive loan is a bad day at the MultiFunding offices. Ami says they’ve fired clients and fired brokers to avoid this.
Ami’s favorite deal of all time was with a trucking company out of Stockton, California. The client had just bought his first truck and had never heard of the SBA. “We restructured his debt and turned his company around. Now we are friends for life.”
A Tortoise Entrepreneur
Ami has plenty of opinions about the way owners decide to fund their business. He has financed MultiFunding completely with debt to maintain full ownership. “I’ve turned down venture capitalists about half a dozen times,” he says. “I have competitors who’ve raised $10 and $15 million dollars, but I am profitable and they’re not.”
Ami calls himself, and many of the customers he serves “tortoise entrepreneurs.” His is a slow and steady growth model. “In our culture, we celebrate unicorns,” he says. “The hero entrepreneurs are those who raise bills of venture capital and race to the finish line as fast as they can. That’s not what life is for 99% of business owners.”
Ami synthesizes these types of philosophies in his well-read blog. He has a tremendous press profile offering tips and advice to entrepreneurs. “I went kicking and screaming into writing a blog five years ago. It became cathartic.”