Narin Charan quickly recognized the struggles that business owners, especially small business owners, were encountering at the onset of the economic downturn that ultimately led to The Great Recession. Knowing that those struggles would only magnify during the lengthy period of recovery necessary to get the economy back on track, Narin founded Capital Alliance, a tech-enabled lender dedicated to partnering with small businesses in need of funding.
That was nearly a decade ago, and although Capital Alliance has grown in the time since its founding, Narin continues to emphasize the importance of staying true to the company’s roots in the small business community. As a result, Narin’s company has earned a reputation as a relationship-based lender, with clients viewing Capital Alliance as a partner in their company’s success.
With the growth enabled by such a client-centric approach, Narin’s company is now able to provide clients with access to unsecured business loans up to $1 million. Access is just part of the equation, as Narin also developed the simple, tech-enabled process that ensures clients receive a decision on the loan within 24 hours. The application process is similarly simple, as Narin introduced a three-step process that is far more efficient than the outdated lending models that represent the alternative.
When he founded the company almost 10 years ago, Narin saw how traditional lending models persisted despite rapidly evolving economic conditions. With the same spirit that animates all entrepreneurs, Narin took action to develop a lending model capable of adapting to economic changes as they occur.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
It was 2008, and I was actually surprised to see that the outdated lending models were either unwilling or unable to adapt to the struggles of the recession. Since small businesses tend to take the brunt of any downturn, I decided to create a lending model that met the needs of small business owners during a time of economic uncertainty.
How do you make money?
We offer unsecured loans to a variety of industries — retail, restaurant, construction, auto repair, and the like — and while these loans naturally carry rates and fees, we believe that partnering with our clients to help their business grow is the best way to make money.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Profitability took longer than I would have liked, but shorter than I had expected.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
You’d have to be crazy not to have doubts when starting any business, but my confidence in the concept prevented whatever doubts I had from undermining our success.
How did you get your first customer?
We’re based out of Orange County, so we reached out to local businesses in the area before launching a broader marketing campaign. That initial outreach yielded several of our initial customers.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We strive for transparency in our marketing materials, which immediately differentiates our company from most other lenders.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
We recently needed to fill an important position in the company, and there was quite a bit of interest from several highly qualified applicants from outside the organization. I always prefer to promote from within — which is the decision we ultimately made — but the quality of the applicants added a lot of complexity to the decision.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Financial lenders tend to be very detached by design, but I believe that building strong relationships with our clients improves the outcomes we are both able to achieve. This, along with the increased efficiency we’ve introduced, is why we’ve been so successful.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Our lending model is anything but traditional, and by demonstrating the effectiveness and necessity of the changes we’ve made is satisfying in and of itself. The lending industry is evolving in ways that better meet the needs of the people they serve.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Technological changes happen so quickly, so I’m really excited about finding ways to take advantage of new technologies so we can continue to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with our clients.
What business books have inspired you?
The Innovator’s Dilemma is a great source of inspiration for any current or aspiring entrepreneur.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We’re always looking for ways to encourage and support the professional development of our employees, so we’ve been investing in trips to conferences and seminars that provide team members access to opportunities for professional growth.