DC small business owner struggling to get PPP funds during COVID crisis

Connect FM | May 25, 2020

The last two months have been some of the most difficult of Rahama Wright’s career. For 15 years, Wright has run Shea Yeleen, a beauty brand located in Washington, D.C. Birthed out of a passion to empower women in sub-Saharan Africa, her staff of five helps distribute shea butter products. In turn, they provide jobs for 800 women in Ghana. Since the pandemic started, she’s had to make drastic changes. “Now I’m trying figure out how to continue to run the businesses with about 80% of my revenue being slashed,” Wright said. Most of her business comes through sales from her stores – one on H Street and a kiosk at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. She also generated considerable revenue from a partnership with a resort. She’s since had to furlough all five of her staff and close her main storefront. She also applied for federal help.

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MARKETING AND NETWORKING

H.I.G. Capital Completes the Sale of Digital Room

H.I.G. Capital | December 23, 2021

H.I.G. Capital (“H.I.G.”), a leading global alternative investment firm with over $45 billion of equity capital under management, is pleased to announce the sale of its portfolio company Digital Room, LLC (“Digital Room” or the “Company”) to an affiliate of Sycamore Partners. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Headquartered in Sherman Oaks, CA, Digital Room is a leading e-commerce provider of customized marketing products to small and medium sized businesses. The Company reaches its diversified customer base through a series of its own websites and fulfills the products through an extensive network of facilities across North America. H.I.G. acquired Digital Room in December 2017 in partnership with the Company’s senior management. Through a combination of significant organic growth as well as highly strategic tuck-in acquisitions, Digital Room doubled revenue and profitability during H.I.G.’s ownership period, generating an outstanding return for its investors. Mike Turner, CEO of Digital Room, added: “H.I.G. has been an outstanding partner to Digital Room since their initial investment in 2017. In addition to supporting our acquisitions efforts, H.I.G. provided us with the freedom and flexibility to grow the business organically and served as a value-added advisor to our senior leadership team. As a result of our work together with H.I.G., Digital Room is larger, stronger, and more diversified today than it was in 2017. We now offer a more comprehensive set of value-added solutions to our small and medium sized business customers.” “We are extremely pleased with the results of our investment in Digital Room and are proud that H.I.G. played a role in building a solid foundation upon which the Company will continue to profitably grow. Digital Room is an exceptional organization with outstanding leadership and we wish the Company the best in the next chapter.” Rahul Vinnakota, Managing Director at H.I.G. Matt Hankins, Managing Director at H.I.G., further commented, “We have been thrilled with the partnership with Digital Room management and look forward to the Company’s continued success.” Baird and Harris Williams were the financial advisors to Digital Room, and Ropes & Gray LLP represented H.I.G. Capital and Digital Room as legal counsel. About Digital Room Digital Room offers a broad array of marketing products for small and medium sized businesses through a portfolio of uniquely branded eCommerce websites, including Uprinting.com, Signs.com logosportswear.com, packola.com, eSigns.com, PrintPlace.com, NextDayFlyers.com, PrintRunner.com, and 48HourPrint.com. Digital Room’s focus on providing an outstanding user experience and excellent products has built loyal repeat customers from its base of small business owners, design professionals and marketers. About H.I.G. Capital H.I.G. is a leading global alternative assets investment firm with over $45 billion of equity capital under management.* Based in Miami, and with offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta in the U.S., as well as international affiliate offices in London, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Bogotá, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, H.I.G. specializes in providing both debt and equity capital to small and mid-sized companies, utilizing a flexible and operationally focused/value-added approach. Since its founding in 1993, H.I.G. has invested in and managed more than 300 companies worldwide. The firm's current portfolio includes more than 100 companies with combined sales in excess of $30 billion.

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BUSINESS STRATEGY

MeridianLink® Announces Agreement to Acquire StreetShares®

MeridianLink | March 11, 2022

MeridianLink, Inc.®, a leading provider of modern software platforms for financial institutions and consumer reporting agencies, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire StreetShares®, a mission-driven financial technology company that provides digital small business lending technology to banks and credit unions. StreetShares is an award-winning financial technology company that started in 2014 as a low-cost, digital lender to veteran-owned small businesses. StreetShares later launched its digital business lending platform to allow community banks and credit unions to affordably make small business loans with a 100% digital, omnichannel experience. “StreetShares’ commitment to providing lenders across the U.S. with state-of-the-art business lending capabilities, including business loans, automated decisioning, and business lines of credit, aligns with our focus on empowering more banks and credit unions to better serve consumers and communities. Adding the StreetShares team, technology, and strong partnerships with organizations like Fiserv to the MeridianLink family will accelerate our small business lending capabilities and further strengthen our MeridianLink One platform.” Nicolaas Vlok, CEO of MeridianLink The StreetShares Atlas Platform™ enables banks and credit unions to get up and running in a fully digital, business lending environment in 45 days or less. Built by experienced business bankers, The Atlas Platform enables community lenders to use data-driven technology to deliver a superior digital banking product experience to their small business customers. It also specifically addresses the key challenges in small business risk assessment and decisioning to meet the financing needs of small businesses efficiently. “StreetShares is thrilled to join forces with the innovators at MeridianLink to better serve America’s main street business owners,” said Mark L. Rockefeller, StreetShares co-founder and CEO. Mickey Konson, StreetShares co-founder and president added, “Enhancing MeridianLink’s platform with StreetShares’ Atlas Platform technology will provide community banks and credit unions with industry-leading tools to better serve small business customers.” About MeridianLink MeridianLink® is a leading provider of cloud-based software solutions for financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, specialty lending providers, and consumer reporting agencies. Headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, MeridianLink provides services to more than 1,900 customers, including a majority of the financial institutions on Forbes’ 2021 lists of America’s Best Credit Unions and Banks. About StreetShares StreetShares is a small business banking software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology company that powers community banks, credit unions, and non-financial organizations. Its Atlas Platform offers a full suite of digital, white-labeled, small business banking products to their customers. StreetShares technology was voted “Best in Show” by community bank executives at the American Banker Small Biz Banking Conference, and the StreetShares team has been recognized as EY Entrepreneurs of the Year, Innovators of the Year, and other honors.

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

London Underwriters Launches With Slice to Protect Small Businesses

Slice Labs Inc. | June 17, 2022

Slice Labs Inc. (Slice), a technology company with the first on-demand insurance platform, announced the launch of a new partnership that gives London Underwriters’ agents access to Slice’s 100% digital platform for small business coverage. Agents can quote in 30 seconds and issue in under 5 minutes. “We’re excited about the simplicity and ease of Slice’s solution – the digital experience is a perfect fit for our agents,” -Daniel Feigenbaum, CEO of London Underwriters. The product is under the Slice brand and is available now. It includes General Liability coverage for artisan contractors, general contractors and remodelers, a product that has been very successful with small businesses. “Working with London Underwriters expands our reach and our ability to continue to empower agents with products to protect small businesses,” -Tim Attia, co-founder and CEO of Slice. About Slice Labs: Slice Labs Inc. is building the future of insurance by enabling insurers, MGAs, and technology platforms to build intelligent and intuitive, on-demand digital insurance products via Slice’s cloud-based platform. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in New York City, Slice has been consistently recognized as an insurance and technology leader by industry publications, awards, and Tier 1 publications. To learn more, visit https://slice.is. Follow Slice on Twitter and LinkedIn. About London Underwriters: London Underwriters is an insurance wholesale broker that specializes in writing property and casualty insurance. As one of the nation's largest Insurtech distributor, London Underwriters offers their appointed agents several Insurtech programs where agents can quote and bind online plus hundreds of traditional brokerage markets they can submit business to. If you are interested in becoming an appointed agency of London Underwriters, visit www.londonuw.com for more information.

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FINANCE

Slice Adds Remodeling Contractors to Small Business General Liability Insurance Coverage

Slice | April 04, 2022

Slice Labs Inc. (Slice), a technology company with the first on-demand insurance platform, announced the addition of remodeling contractors to the covered classes under the AERO Insurance brand. Agents can now quote, bind and issue for 70 different classes in 42 states + D.C. In the fall of 2021, Slice and Appalachian Underwriters partnered on the development and distribution of Contractors General Liability Insurance via the new brand AERO Insurance. Data from the first quarter of 2022 continues to show tremendous growth with 46% month-over-month growth. “With remodelers being such a large group of the contractors industry, we’re very pleased to offer coverage. Not only do we want agents to have the best digital experience, we want them to be able to have access to the widest set of coverage, including hard to place coverage.” Tim Atta, founder and CEO of Slice Labs About Slice Labs Slice Labs Inc. is building the future of insurance by enabling insurers, MGAs, and technology platforms to build intelligent and intuitive, on-demand digital insurance products via Slice’s cloud-based platform. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in New York City, Slice has been consistently recognized as an insurance and technology leader by industry publications, awards, and Tier 1 publications. About Appalachian Underwriters, Inc Appalachian Underwriters, Inc. (AUI) offers a leading insurance wholesale brokerage outlet for agents looking to bring their clients a broad selection of quality products. AUI is a Nationwide MGA that specializes in Workers'​ Compensation, Commercial Specialty, and Personal Lines products. The company also offers a brokerage unit that expands their product offering beyond their Managed Programs and allows them to place large specialized risks. AUI’s “one–stop” approach affords the convenience of dealing with one sales and administration staff, while gaining access to a wide range of high quality companies. Appalachian Underwriters is a wholly owned subsidiary of Acrisure.

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