TECHNOLOGY

Texas Firm Helps Small Businesses Get More From Their Website With the Power of People.

catch light productions | September 21, 2021

Catch Light Productions, a 32-year veteran creative firm, proudly announces the launch of Hands-On Hosting managed websites for small business.

“Business owners and marketers should be able to focus on running their business while letting someone else sweat the technical details,” says Howard Theriot, principal of Catch Light Productions.

Hands-On Hosting is a fully managed solution for building, launching, and maintaining a professional small business website. Everything from initial setup through launch and ongoing maintenance is handled by a real human rather than automated one-click installers. The services are offered with a choice of three different content management solutions including Grav CMS, WordPress, and Joomla with each option tailored for its specific strengths and appropriateness for the project at hand. All plans include installation and configuration, ongoing cms and plugin maintenance, technical support, premium hosting, and concierge service to help users make the most of their online venture.

The new service is designed to address the problem with many DIY website options leaving users falling short of their goals due to their own lack of experience with such tools, and difficulty in getting personal support. The company believes this new offering will help fill the gap in maintaining a successful website presence for those who prefer not to manage their own site but do not have the resources to hire a dedicated team.

Catch Light Productions,
a creative firm specializing in small business branding, has been providing turnkey print, web, and advertising design since 1989. 

Spotlight

Small business owners are expected to wear a variety of hats as they juggle multiple roles to build their bases. However, there’s one role that may very well be the most important in 2017: the role of teacher. Today’s businesses aren’t growing their bottom lines through in-your-face marketing and sneak tactics: they’re doing it through education.


Other News
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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TECHNOLOGY

Codat Launches New Flagship Risk Product Assess for Smarter SMB Risk Decisioning

Codat | May 12, 2022

Codat, the universal API for small business data, announced the general availability launch of Assess, its new flagship risk product that enables smarter credit decisions on small to medium-sized businesses with real-time customer data via a single API. Codat built Assess in response to lender requests for a product that would support faster business decisions without increasing risks. Since Assess was made available to existing clients, 25 financial service providers have already made use of the new product, and it has been used in the underwriting process for more than 271 small businesses. With multi-platform coverage and the ability to build and manage multiple integrations, Assess pulls real-time accounting, commerce, and banking data from the software customers already use. Codat also cross-references data sources to verify accuracy. "Over the last 5 years, many millions of financial datasets have been processed via Codat's infrastructure, The financial ratios, intelligent categorization and validation that Assess offers is the culmination of the scale of our experience and copious feedback from customers. It will help credit providers underwrite faster and smarter, providing a lifeline for some of the millions of businesses in the US who have fewer than 15 cash buffer days." -Pete Lord, Codat's CEO. Before Assess, lenders had to first collect, then enrich and verify SMB data, making underwriting a manual, lengthy task. Many categorized and calculated ratios needed by hand, which meant the process was not only slow but prone to error, impacting risk ratios and difficult to scale. Assess enables SMB customers to share their data easily and then automatically enriches data, auto-generating ratios and metrics ready to be plugged into credit models. This reduces the time it takes to underwrite and gets much needed finance in the hands of the SMB faster. "We've traditionally had to oversee ratios and metrics calculations that are fed into our scoring engine. As financial reports are often erroneous and miscategorized, this resulted in discrepant scoring and, ultimately, customer loss, We recently had the privilege of being part of the beta testing for Assess, which introduced a set of pre-calculated ratios and metrics and an auto-categories feature. It has reduced our development resources dramatically and yielded precise account classification, enabling us to increase customer acquisition." -Dan Shapir, CTO and co-founder of Precise Finance Last year, the number of small businesses in the United States grew to 32.5 million, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, underscoring the need for customized lending and data services for this growing market. As Codat continues to expand its customer base and strategic growth initiatives, it launched Sync for Commerce, which automatically synchronizes sales data with accounting platforms, last month. Another product designed to ease the administrative burden for SMBs, Sync for Commerce radically simplifies the reconciliation process. ABOUT CODAT Codat is the universal API for small business data. Codat's API provides real-time connectivity to enable software providers and financial institutions to build integrated products for their SMB customers. Codat clients range from corporate card providers and forecasting software to lenders, and use cases span automatic reconciliation, loan decisioning, and more. Codat was founded in 2017 and has offices in London, New York, San Francisco, and Sydney. For more information, visit www.codat.io.

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FINANCE

OneConnect Inks New Strategic Partnership Agreement with Chengfang Financial Technology

OneConnect | January 10, 2022

OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. ("OneConnect"), a leading technology-as-a-service platform for financial institutions has today announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Chengfang Financial Technology Co. Ltd., (abbreviated as "Chengfang Financial Technology"), a financial technology company established by the People's Bank of China ("PBOC"). Working with shared principles of equal collaboration, joint development, honesty and trustworthiness, both parties will work together to address common pain points in the financial industry, deliver technological innovations, and enhance data processing and governance. Under the agreement, OneConnect and Chengfang Financial Technology will harness cutting-edge technologies -- including AI, cloud computing and big data -- to explore new applications for data privacy technology in bank surveillance systems, promote the introduction and sharing of new data standards, and identify the financial data collaboration and circulation models needed by businesses to meet the requirements for secure cloud computing. In addition, the two parties will carry out research and development in areas such as secure computing technology, blockchain, and graph data; as well as nurture and cultivate new FinTech talents for the future. "This partnership with Chengfang Financial Technology is a significant step forward for OneConnect. China's digital banking sector has continuously remained at the forefront of digital transformation, and technology is at the core of its integrity and innovation. As a FinTech B2B business, OneConnect upholds its responsibility to promote the development of the financial services sector. Together with Chengfang Financial Technology, we will continue to adhere to our ongoing mission: to develop and empower the industry with our unique combination of professional expertise and technology, in order to build a new way forward for digital banking." Wangchun Ye, Chairman of OneConnect A subsidiary of PBOC, Chengfang Financial Technology is entrusted with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the digital banking system for China's central bank. The company performs resource scheduling and operation management for PBOC's network and data centers, and operates its data transfer management platform to provide the entire system with services ranging from network communications and infrastructure to systems maintenance and data transfer. Its partnership with OneConnect promises to accelerate the digitalization of China's banking sector, and cements OneConnect's position as a leader in digital financial development. As the world's leading technology-as-a-service platform for financial institutions, OneConnect harnesses cutting-edge technologies to improve efficiency and services for banks, government agencies and exchanges, while also reducing costs and minimizing risk. OneConnect helps providers accelerate digital transformation across four key pillars: the construction of a digital ecosystem, the cultivation of green finance, the integration of the Greater Bay Area, and the continued development of the FinTech sector. In addition to its partnership with Chengfang Financial Technology, OneConnect has established strategic alliances with the China Securities Regulatory Commission's Technology Supervisory Bureau, Insurance Asset Management Association of China, and China Insurance Asset Registration and Trading System Co., Ltd. The company has also successfully implemented major FinTech projects around the world, including the Hong Kong Stock Exchange's FINI IPO settlement platform, Singapore Stock Exchange's ESG platform, a corporate financing platform for small to medium-sized enterprises in the Guangdong province, Hong Kong's trade finance linkage platform, Guangxi Province's cross-border digital finance platform, the Hainan Provincial Financial Supervisory Bureau's smart integrated financial services platform, and more. OneConnect has also been aggressively exploring and leading the development of privacy computing in recent years, leveraging its advantages in privacy computing technology and cooperation practices. The company has won China Merchants Bank's bid for the "Privacy Computing Platform Interoperability" project, and the two companies will begin working together closely to build China's first multi-party cross-heterogeneous privacy computing platform. The project will be applied to financial scenarios such as financial risk control, anti-fraud, and blacklist query. By collaborating on this platform, both parties will jointly activate the full potential of big data and boost customer business value on the basis of meeting regulatory data privacy protection regulations. Looking ahead, OneConnect plans to continue exploring new partnerships with domestic and foreign organizations, government agencies and financial exchanges; strengthen its technological innovation and IP protection; and improve its R&D capabilities in technology in order to accelerate the digitalization of the global financial services sector.

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FINANCE

Crossroads Systems to Acquire Leading Small Business Lender, Fountainhead

Crossroads Systems Inc. | December 17, 2021

Crossroads Systems, Inc., a holding company focused on investing in businesses that promote economic vitality and community development, announced today that it has reached an agreement in principle to acquire Fountainhead, a leading national, non-bank, direct commercial lender specializing in business financing for small to midsize businesses. Founded by some of the most experienced and accomplished Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders in the industry, Fountainhead finances the growth of small business borrowers, in addition to working with referral partners at community banks, credit unions, and others through their industry-leading referral program. The Fountainhead team has collectively been involved in financing over $28 billion in total projects throughout their careers by providing SBA 7(a), SBA 504, and low loan-to-value (LTV) conventional loans across all 50 states and US territories. Fountainhead's SBA products provide capital to deserving small businesses through the SBA 7(a) program. Additionally, their SBA 504 and conventional loan programs provide low leveraged loan opportunities with up to 65% LTV first lien commercial real estate loans on owner-occupied/operated properties. Over the past nearly two years, Fountainhead has also operated at the forefront of providing aid to support America's small businesses through the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) effort. Since the inception of the program, Fountainhead has closed and funded nearly 300,000 PPP loans, becoming the nation's sixth most active PPP lender in 2021 alone. "Our acquisition of Fountainhead, a national SBA and major PPP lender, allows us to further diversify our small business product mix and offer more financing solutions to even more deserving businesses across the country. This combination, when added to our existing partnerships with Enhanced Capital Group and Rise Line Business Credit, two other leading nationwide lending firms, will enable us to capture additional SBA loan business which fit perfectly within our growing pipeline of small business opportunities. On behalf of our entire organization, I'd like to formally welcome Fountainhead to the Crossroads family." Eric Donnelly, CEO of Crossroads Fountainhead Founder and CEO, Chris Hurn added: "We could not have found a better partner to help us expand our mission of providing the smartest, fastest financing possible to owners of every well-run small to mid-sized business in America. We're looking forward to working alongside the Crossroads team over the coming months and years to make that a reality." This agreement was unanimously approved by the members of both Crossroads' and Fountainhead's Boards of Directors. The deal remains subject to the consent of and final approval by the SBA and is expected to close in the first half of 2022. Additional terms have not been disclosed. Fountainhead is one of only 14 nonbank lenders approved to make SBA 7(a) loans under its Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) license. Additionally, Fountainhead has one of SBA's Preferred Lender Partner (PLP) designations, which roughly 10% of participating SBA lenders earn. The PLP is the highest level of approval and status that a lender can hold, offering full delegation of lending authority. About Crossroads Systems, Inc. Crossroads Systems, Inc. is a holding company focused on investing in businesses that promote economic vitality and community development. Crossroads' subsidiary, Capital Plus Financial (CPF), is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Certified B-Corp, which supports Hispanic homeownership with a long-term, fixed-rate single-family mortgage product. About Fountainhead Fountainhead SBF and Fountainhead Commercial Capital (collectively, "Fountainhead") is a nationwide, non-bank, direct lender specializing in the SBA 7(a), SBA 504, and low LTV (<65%) conventional commercial real estate loans.

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Spotlight

Small business owners are expected to wear a variety of hats as they juggle multiple roles to build their bases. However, there’s one role that may very well be the most important in 2017: the role of teacher. Today’s businesses aren’t growing their bottom lines through in-your-face marketing and sneak tactics: they’re doing it through education.

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