May 29, 2015 · Fundings · (No comments)
The Ignition team, from left to right: Frank Artale, John Connors and Nick Sturiale

Ignition Partners has more fuel in the tank.

The Bellevue venture capital firm — an early-stage backer of companies such as Chef, Cloudera and Couchbase — today is announcing a $200 million fund to focus on a new class of enterprise software startups. It marks the sixth fund for the firm, which was created by former Microsoft and McCaw Cellular vets in 2000.

Ignition has changed a lot since it was first founded, with all of the founding partners moving on. The fund is now led by former Microsoft CFO John Connors, former Microsoft and Xensource executive Frank Artale and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Nick Sturiale.

Ignition raised a $160 million fund in April 2013, using that cash to support companies such as Azuqua, Tempered Networks, Tellwise and TipBit.

Ignition said it had demand to raise up to $300 million, but it decided to keep the fund small and focused on enterprise software. It plans to back 15 to 20 startups with the new funds.

“In a world where big gets the attention, we embrace the notion of being an anti-scale venture firm. We leverage our presence being in Palo Alto and both Amazon and Microsoft’s back yard coupled with our outsized devotion to a small number of entrepreneurial teams to help generate differential outcomes,” said partner Nick Sturiale in a press release. “As well, part of our model is to work with a core group of world-class LPs, whose support is instrumental helping guide our investment thesis on what will likely be a notable vintage of new market-making companies.”

Ignition has met with success recently, with the firm saying that it has realized more than $800 million in liquidity through IPOs, acquisitions and significant follow-on fundings. Big deals include the IPO of Splunk, as well as acquisitions of Azaleos, Parse, Topsy and Tier3. Portfolio company DocuSign also just picked up $233 million in additional venture funding.

Artale tells GeekWire that the firm will continue with the same focus in the new fund as it did in fund five, bankrolling companies in the Internet of Things and industrial Internet applications.

Ignition is one of the primary Seattle area venture capital firms, along with Maveron, Madrona Venture Group and Voyager Capital. Madrona also is in the process of raising a new fund, following the $300 million fund that it raised in the summer of 2012.

May 14, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off on Fast-growing school districts fear double whammy in Texas House

AUSTIN — Fast-growing school districts across North Texas — many of them in Collin and Denton counties — are looking for help building new schools as their student populations boom.

But whether the Legislature will pitch in is in doubt, as time dwindles in lawmakers’ session.

The House will consider two bills next week that districts such as McKinney, Prosper and Little Elm are watching closely. One would let fast-growing districts raise their tax rates beyond the current to pay for bonds to fund construction, if voters approve. The bill faces an uphill battle among conservative lawmakers looking to limit the growth of government spending.

The second measure would limit school districts’ use of bonds that have raised questions in the past, and it’s likely to pass the House as soon as Monday.

The resulting constraints could put a double whammy on districts that need to raise funds to build new schools.

“The students are coming, and you can’t just rely on portables. You have to keep up with the growth,” said Michelle Smith of the Fast Growth School Coalition.

Critics contend the districts need to find a way to work with the money they have now and not burden future generations with bond payments. They are concerned about reeling in rising local governments’ debt, which reached $307 billion statewide last year. About a third of that — the largest cut of the debt — belongs to school districts.

“We’re confident that right now the Legislature is going to do what’s right to address the dangers of local government debt by having more transparency and reining in exotic financing tools,” said James Quintero, an analyst for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

A tax bump

The Denton school district is bursting at the seams with overcrowding at its three high schools. But high school No. 4 won’t be open until next year.

Superintendent Jamie Wilson said ideally, the new campus would have opened this year to keep pace with the steady influx of new students. But the district was bumping up against the limit on the debt service tax rate, which pays for school bond projects. So the high school had to wait.

Currently, school districts are limited to 50 cents per $100 of property valuation for debt service taxes. Fast-growing districts like Denton tend to hit the 50-cent mark more than others because of the constant need to build new schools. But that, in turn, makes it more difficult to borrow money for such projects.

“We would like to ask our citizens to go above that 50 cents if it would allow us to save money on interest in the long run and move forward with projects,” Wilson said. “If the rooftops and families get here before retail and commercial — like it is — then it’s really difficult to pay for the schools that we need now.”

Denton is one of 35 districts in Texas at the 50-cent cap.

A bill by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, would allow fast-growing districts to go up to 60 cents per $100 of assessed property value with voter approval only if the district first scored high on the comptroller’s efficiency rating system, adopted an improvement plan and showed how it is saving taxpayers’ money. About two dozen districts would qualify.

“This bill falls right in the line of local control,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not raising any taxes. We’re allowing the school districts to go to the voters to determine if they want it. But apparently, the local-control mantra doesn’t work when it comes to this.”

Quintero, of the conservative group, said districts need to do a better job of managing the taxing abilities they already have rather than extending them. That means not using long-term financing for items with a short lifespan, such as computers and tablets.

“To simply give them more money to put on the credit card is not a smart way to manage debt,” Quintero said.

Controversial bonds

Districts facing unprecedented growth have tried to get creative to pay for construction. Many have turned to a controversial form of borrowing called capital appreciation bonds.

Such bonds don’t count against the district’s debt until they come due in one lump sum, sometimes decades later. But in that time, districts aren’t paying down the interest, so the debt balloons to as much as 10 times what was borrowed.

Critics say such debt could be difficult to pay when it comes due. Further, they worry about the strain it puts on the state, as the bonds are guaranteed by the Texas Permanent School Fund.

“We have a concern that we’ve guaranteed more than what we have funds for,” Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, said at a recent legislative hearing on capital appreciation bonds. “If local people want to vote the debt, they just need to be sure they know what they’re voting for.”

The bonds came under greater scrutiny in recent years as they were cited as the reason some California government agencies went bankrupt. The Austin-area Leander school district and others — including some in Collin County — also took heat for their use of these bonds.

Since then, some districts — including Frisco — eased up on issuing the bonds. Still, 99 percent of all such bonds issued in the state last year were for public schools.

Flynn filed a bill to restrict use of the bonds. It would require school districts to be more transparent about the financing, to disclose possible relationships between government officials and professionals associated with the bond issuance, and to limit the bonds to a 25-year maturity date.

The Fast Growth Coalition has supported the bill in hopes of avoiding an all-out ban, such as one offered by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. He noted at a hearing this week that between 2007 and 2011, more than 700 capital appreciation bonds were issued in Texas for a total of $2.3 billion. The future payment on them would exceed $20 billion.

School district officials also say they want to avoid using such costly means of borrowing. But unless the 50-cent limit is adjusted, they are stuck, they argue.

“If they are used in small amounts, then [capital appreciation bonds] are another tool in the toolbox to help,” Smith said. “You can’t sit around and not build when you’re a district like Frisco adding 3,600 kids a year. You have to build.”

Follow Eva-Marie Ayala on Twitter at @EvaMarieAyala.

May 14, 2015 · Small Business Loans · Comments Off on The Six-Minute Loan: How Kabbage Is Upending Small Business Lending — And …

This story appears in the May 25, 2015 issue of Forbes.

When Jennifer Kirk, who owns Posh Puppy Boutique, a pet grooming and supply shop in Rocklin, Calif., had an opportunity to expand her business last year, she turned first to her bank, which made her wait three weeks before rejecting her loan application. Then she learned about Kabbage, which let her apply online-linking directly to her bank, PayPal and QuickBooks accounts (as well as her social media feeds)-and then ran an automated program to assess her creditworthiness.

Six minutes later she had an answer: She was approved to borrow up to $50,000 on a six-month loan, and she could transfer part or all of those funds to her PayPal account whenever she needed them. “The money was instantly available to me,” says Kirk. But at a price-an annual percentage rate of about 27%.

Today Kabbage offers borrowers lines of credit for as much as $100,000, with loans payable over six months. The average line of credit is $25,000, and the average borrower takes seven or eight loans a year, totaling $50,000. Since its start in 2009, the company has lent more than $750 million to small businesses, and it expects to lend $1 billion in 2015. It also expects to be profitable this year, with revenue exceeding $100 million, up some 200%.

Those numbers put Kabbage among the leaders of the increasingly crowded field of alternative lenders, says Smittipon Srethapramote, a vice president at Morgan Stanley, who researched the space prior to the initial public offering of OnDeck, a Kabbage competitor. “It’s well-known that banks have pulled back from making loans to small businesses since the recession,” Srethapramote says. “Kabbage and other lenders have filled the void.” Not unlike Uber and Airbnb, they have created a largely unregulated industry that is making a lot of money.

The seeds of Kabbage, founded in 2008 and based in Atlanta, were sown by Rob Frohwein, an intellectual property lawyer. Now CEO, Frohwein saw how much data were becoming accessible via the cloud and that companies like eBay and PayPal were providing application programming interfaces, or APIs, that a lender could use to get real-time access to a business’ customer-transaction data. Kabbage, Frohwein says, put the two concepts together.

Before starting the company, he called Kathryn Petralia, who worked for a financial services firm and was an expert in credit and payments, and Marc Gorlin, a serial entrepreneur with venture capital connections. In 2009 the three cofounders created a plan to finance Kabbage with venture capital, but a road trip to California proved fruitless. Instead, they raised $500,000 by issuing a convertible note, and after hiring employees and leasing office space, they got $1.5 million from a group of 45 angel investors. They made their first 100 small-business loans in 2010. That December Kabbage closed its first venture round and has since developed relationships with Silicon Valley Bank, Victory Park Capital and now Guggenheim Partners to provide the capital it loans out.

May 14, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off on China Rebuilds on a New Foundation

It has been 15 years since I first visited China. Then I was
speaking on copper markets at a conference organized by the
Shanghai Futures Exchange in a brand-new building in the then
developing Pudong area of Shanghai. I distinctly remember the
slightly deserted, futuristic feel of the area, which appeared
to be far ahead of its time. Has China built too much,
too soon? I wondered as I gazed around the empty

My most recent visit started, aptly enough, in Pudong in
Shanghai which is now the bustling heart of Chinas
leading financial district. Over dinner with some Chinese
friends working in the metals industry, I learned that whereas
there is still money to be made in the country, it is tougher
than it was when gross domestic product was consistently
growing at a rate of above 10 percent and the government could
not do enough to support industrial growth. Now profitability
and returns are the primary focus. It is not just Western
mining companies that are learning this hard lesson.

As the Chinese government weans itself and also
provinces and state-owned enterprises off the
single-minded focus on GDP growth, it is trying to adapt to a
broader focus of more sustainable measures such as unemployment
levels, profitability and productivity. Thus banks will no
longer lend to companies building new capacity without first
wanting to see a strong business plan that analyzes the returns
expected. Credit is no longer easy for industrial companies in
China. The focus has moved from volume growth to earnings
growth. That does not mean there is no volume growth, but
rather it is at a slower pace and based on a more sustainable

Shanxi province, southwest of Beijing, is the center of
Chinas coal industry, producing 970 million metric tons
in 2014, or approximately 25 percent of Chinas total
production. A few years ago, with coal prices at record levels,
provincial capital Taiyuan, population 4.2 million, was a boom
city and expanding rapidly as profits from coal mining flowed,
with excess cash being spent on luxury goods and reinvested in
property. Now many recently constructed tower blocks are empty
or half-finished. That was a clear example of one of the
challenges facing the government, as it moves the economy
toward services and away from its overreliance on
fixed-asset investment. The government has had at least 20
meetings in the past year with coal producers and associations
to discuss how to improve profitability and manage debt

The coal industrys decline means fewer jobs; the
sector employs more than 6.1 million people directly.
Poorer-quality coal is also a cause of pollution, as it
increases emissions from coal-fired power stations. One
solution is to put pressure on smaller, poor-quality mines to
close while encouraging the larger companies to consolidate and
restructure to improve efficiency. Coal imports are also being
discouraged, with new regulations requiring details of all
trace elements in any imported coal. Even so, it is estimated
that it will take as long as two years to restore the industry
to a more stable operating base, and growth in output will be
limited in that period.

We then traveled to Beijing by high-speed rail, cruising
smoothly at 300 kilometers an hour to arrive at the bustling
and congested capital. Arriving just toward the end of the
annual National Peoples Congress (NPC), the sky was blue
and pollution levels low, benefiting from the shutdown of heavy
industry around the capital over the New Year holidays and
during the political confab the latter yet another
reminder that the government sees popular benefits to limiting
heavy industry growth.

One day after the end of the NPC meetings in March, the
government noted that growth had slowed but recommitted to
achieving a 7 percent increase in GDP in 2015. Hints of further
monetary easing and infrastructure spending have continued to
be dropped, and an oft-repeated refrain was that although the
first quarter has been tough, the government will do
something. Investors in the Chinese stock market, up 38
percent year-to-date, certainly believes as much.

As usual, China remains fascinating, and the country
continues to progress at a rapid rate. The transformation under
way from fixed-asset investment to consumption growth has
government support and is bolstered by popular demands for a
clean environment,
less corruption and higher living standards. These all bode
well long term for a more balanced and sustainable growth
model, but it is clearly not an easy change to make. In our
view at Investec Asset Management, it also means that demand
growth rates for bulk commodities, such as iron ore and coking
coal, will slow and could be negative in some years hence.
Consumer-oriented metals such as nickel, aluminium and copper
should continue to grow at good rates, however, as living
standards rise and durable goods orders increase. We believe
oil demand will continue to grow, as more cars are sold and
road travel increases, and renewable energy investment will
continue to accelerate, as pollution remains a big issue.

May 13, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off on The insolvency solution

Nobody wants to go bankrupt. But maybe a lot more people should than actually do, or at the very least consider it as a way to improve their financial situation.

The problem is bankruptcy has a stigma. In the opinion of many, bankruptcy isnt just a financial failure. Its a moral one.

KEYWORDS: staying afloat home house homeowner second mortgage loan bankruptcy life perserver drown drowning debt water personal finance krtbusiness business krtnational national krtworld world krtintlbusiness krtnamer north america krtpersonalfinance krtusbusiness us us united states krt bancarrota illustration ilustracion grabado negocios hipoteca bienes inmuebles deuda hogar casa flote agua da contributor coddington oxford 2005 krt2005 real estate price>


300 dpi 5 col x 13.25 in / 246×337 mm / 837×1145 pixels Troy Oxford color illustration of a life preserver keeping a home afloat as the homeowner sits on the roof with his head in his hands. The Dallas Morning News 2005

KEYWORDS: staying afloat home house homeowner second mortgage loan bankruptcy life perserver drown drowning debt water personal finance krtbusiness business krtnational national krtworld world krtintlbusiness krtnamer north america krtpersonalfinance krtusbusiness us us united states krt bancarrota illustration ilustracion grabado negocios hipoteca bienes inmuebles deuda hogar casa flote agua da contributor coddington oxford 2005 krt2005 real estate price

And its this widespread perception that keeps many individuals from using bankruptcy and its lesser-known cousin, a consumer proposal, to relieve themselves of crippling, often high-interest debt that could take decades to pay in full.

Of course, people dont aspire to do a bankruptcy, says Brad Milne, president of the Manitoba Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals.

At the same time, theres a stigma attached to it as well as a lot of misinformation about what it involves and what kind of debt you can get relief from.

Many people mistakenly assume theyll be destitute following a bankruptcy. This is not the case, because the aim of bankruptcy or a consumer proposal is allowing debtors to repay what they can afford while meeting other needs such as food and shelter.

Yet, its also widely believed the entire debt must be repaid.

Assets including real estate owned in full can be liquidated to repay creditors, but RRSPs and other registered retirement assets are exempt. Monthly payments are involved, but they are based on monthly income thresholds based on household size. For example, in bankruptcy the threshold for a one-person household is $2,062 of net income.

Milne says individuals with income below the threshold only pay a $75 one-time filing fee and an affordable monthly payment for nine months to the trustee in a first-time bankruptcy.

An example may be $200 per month, he says, adding the amount varies with some trustees willing to take less than their normal rate for people on disability or social assistance.

Debtors with surplus income, however, pay 50 per cent of the amount that exceeds the set threshold.

In those instances, they make payments for 21 months.

Milne says licensed trustees are the only professionals in Canada who can administer bankruptcy or consumer proposals, and they generally earn their money as a percentage of repayments.

Another largely unknown fact is money owing to the Canadian Revenue Agency can also form part of a bankruptcy.

Ive seen people struggling with six-figure tax debt for years because they didnt realize that they could get relief from it in a bankruptcy, he says.

And individuals do not necessarily have to sell their homes in a bankruptcy, says Bruce Caplan, a trustee with BDO Canada in Winnipeg.

It depends on the equity in the house, he says. If your house is fully mortgaged, you wont lose it.

Then again, if you cant afford to make the payments, you are going to end up selling anyway.

Vehicles can be exempt, too, if theyre required for work, up to a threshold of $3,000. But automobiles will likely not form part of a bankruptcy repayment plan if they are not fully owned, Caplan says.

If youve got a car worth $15,000 and you owe $20,000, were not going to take it, in most cases.

A minimum exemption also exists for household items up to $4,500.

The whole idea behind bankruptcy is its supposed to be rehabilitative as opposed to being punitive, says Karen Duncan, an associate professor of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba who studies bankruptcy trends in Canada. Thats why it also involves mandatory financial counselling.

And maybe more people should consider a little financial rehab in light of recent data about Canadians indebtedness. Statistics kept by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada reveal insolvency rates in Manitoba have remained relatively stable over the last two decades, ranging from as high as 3.8 to as low as 1.3 individuals per 1,000 adults. And recent data indicate insolvencies for the 12-month period ending Feb. 28 are down slightly from the previous 12-month period.

Yet, despite insolvency rates remaining fairly steady if not decreasing, Canadians are more indebted than ever. Statistics Canada reported earlier this year average household-debt-to-disposable-income levels hit a record high: 163.3 per cent. Moreover, a study released last month by the agency found Canadians in 2012 are more indebted than they were in 1999.

For instance, the report said in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the median debt load nearly doubled over that period, from $31,500 to $61,000 (in constant dollars). Still, assets also increased substantially with a median increase of more than $171,000.

Duncan says this scenario is likely linked to the run-up in real estate prices that has allowed many households to manage debt by rolling it into home equity lines of credit, which carry interest rates significantly lower than consumer (credit card) debt.

While they can manage for now, theyre essentially walking a financial tightrope, she says.

But when people lose their job or get hit with a health crisis, the debt all of sudden isnt manageable anymore.

Duncan has done research profiling the characteristics of Canadians who go through insolvency proceedings and found more fulsome statistics and data are required to get a better picture of who is going bankrupt, why they are going bankrupt and how effective insolvency measures are at helping them recover.

Yet, the dam has yet to break for many highly indebted Canadians, Milne says.

The general thought is it will burst with an increase in interest rates, says the Brandon-based trustee with MNP.

Already, some households may be finding the pressure to be too much to bear. Those same statistics from February also show a 5.2 per cent increase from the same month last year in Manitoba.

Thats been driven by proposals because theyre up 13 per cent, says Duncan, adding these are a more viable option for many after the debt limit increased from $75,000 to $250,000 in 2009.

Overall, consumer proposals are generally a more palatable choice than bankruptcy for a variety of reasons, Milne says.

Normally, you would continue to pay your secured creditors (the mortgage) and we consolidate the unsecured debt and make that group of creditors a settlement arrangement.

While consumer proposals often can involve higher monthly payments than bankruptcy for longer periods — 60 months instead of 21 — they affect an individuals credit rating for only three years after the last payment, whereas first-time bankruptcy remains on a credit report for six years.

A lot of people are concerned about their credit, but they should really be on a cash basis, because the reason theyre facing insolvency is a result of their issues with credit, Caplan says. Moreover, they really should ask themselves whether struggling to preserve their credit rating is worth the enormous amount of stress balancing high debt payments with other costs.

Most people dont feel great about going bankrupt.

But paying minimums only on credit cards while struggling to buy food and pay other necessities is no way to live, Caplan says. And it doesnt have to be that way.

After meeting with a trustee, a lot of people often say theyve had the best nights sleep theyve had in months because it is a big weight lifted off their shoulders, he says. They know they dont have to worry anymore about all that debt that was keeping them up at night.

May 13, 2015 · Financial Partners · Comments Off on First Community Financial Partners, Inc. Announces First Quarter 2015 …

First Community Financial Partners, Inc. Announces First Quarter 2015 Financial Results

May 13, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off on Graduates, Here’s How to Avoid Debt and Get Rich

By Brian OConnell

When Tom Meitner graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2008, he plunged aggressively into the working world — but the social world too. Due to overactivity on the social side, he quickly found himself battling debt. He decided to do something about the problem.

Actually, I wish I had put myself on a strict budget at the time just to minimize any further debt damage, says Meitner, the founder and editor of Cufflinked Magazine, a source for post-college graduate men. If you dont tell each penny where to go, itll disappear before you realize it. Too many people are racking up debt right out of college simply because they want to live a certain way before they are financially ready.

When Meitner got married in 2010, he and his wife got serious about their debt problems. Together, we have paid off more that $150,000 in debt and interest since then by simply maintaining a strict budget, cutting out any extra debt and sacrificing some of the more expensive luxuries people our age indulge in, like going out, watching a lot of cable TV or taking vacations paid for with a credit card, he says. Our motto now is, if you cant cash-flow it, you cant spend the money right now.

Other recent graduates agree, and some, like Meitner, have built a career out of better personal financial practices.

Helping Peers

Take Erin Millard, who graduated three years ago from St. Josephs College and is now a brand and community manager at Wherewithal, a Charlotte, North Carolina, online personal finance advice provider for younger Americans. We tell our community to start paying back your student loans as early as you can — dont wait for the grace period to end, she says. If your interest rates are higher — in the 5 percent to 8 percent range — paying early will make a big difference in the affordability of your payments.

Student loan borrowers can also make extra payments each month to pay loans back quicker, Millard says. Conversely, if youre having trouble meeting minimum payments, dont wait to contact your lender. Speak with them at the first sign of trouble to see what alternative repayment options are available.

The best financial plans for Americans just starting out in their post-college years have similar building blocks. One element is credit — specifically, the abundance of easy credit available to college graduates that can turn their financial lives upside down in just a few years, if its abused.

Dont get sucked into the credit game, advises Jo Webber, founder of Oink, a Los Angeles digital wallet companies geared toward younger financial consumers. I didnt, but I saw many of my friends who did. They didnt realize that after being a student, you have to manage cash carefully — and very suddenly. In that instance, you may find yourself without a job for a while, so dont spend money until you have earned it, and even then only if you have a safety net in place.

Starting Out on the Road Ahead

Webber offers new college graduates a road map of sorts for what is likely their first real stab at financial planning. Heres what she advises young professionals to do right out of college to get a better grip on their finances:

  • Get a student loan repayment plan. Many loans have grace periods to help students get on their feet before payments are due. Figure out which is best for you. As Millard says, though, the sooner you start paying the loan off, the better.
  • Set a starting salary goal. Search career websites to figure out how much people earn in your industry at your experience level. Most jobs have benefits, bonuses and even hidden commissions, depending on the company.
  • Plan to live off 70 percent of your income. The quicker you learn to budget your earnings, the sooner you will be able to pay off college debt and save for the future. These savings can help for a rainy day or for making more money with investments.
  • Plan to invest. Staying up to date with investments can help you get out of any tough financial situation faster. Talk to your parents or a financial advisor about how to start investing. Also, put money into a company 401(k) plan as soon as possible. Studies show that the earlier you start, the faster and heftier your account will grow until retirement. And yes, you should be thinking about retirement as early as your 20s.
  • Find a financial mentor. The best advice comes from someone thats already been in your shoes. Ask your parents, boss, mentor or a financial advisor what they did when they were your age to plan after college.
May 12, 2015 · Small Business Loans · Comments Off on Small Business Success Story: Art Gallery Startup Revamps Site With Bond …

Small-business loans have simply become less attractive to banks, because they’re not that lucrative compared to corporate loans, and because of tighter regulations, he says.

That situation created an opening for many alternative small-business lenders, which have benefitted from growing demand for short-term small-business loans and from new technologies that make it easier and more cost-effective to assess the credit risks of borrowers.

To be sure, the loans offered by alternative small-business lenders are expensive. For example, a small-business loan backed by the US Small Business Administration typically charges 5.5% to 6% interest rate.

An average Bond Street loan, depending on the risk profile of the borrower, would typically charge a rate of 10% to 11%, Haber says. The highest rate Bond Street has charged is 18%, and the lowest is 6%, he adds. Each loan includes a flat 3% fee for “successful funding,” he says.

Still, Jeffrey Robinson, academic director of the Center of Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at the Rutgers Business School, says, “The rates are not bad if you think of them in the period that they are being repaid.”

And they can work for some small businesses looking for quick access to cash for a specific business need. “You can’t use it for everything, but it’s certainly something that can close the access to capital gap,” he tells NerdWallet.

That’s certainly true for Uprise Art, which is getting ready to roll out a revamped site in August. The online gallery is required to make a bimonthly payment of $1,314 for three years, Chun says. But she says business is so good, she expects to pay it off sooner than that.

“We expect it will pay for itself in the next 12 months,” she says.

Benjamin Pimentel is a staff writer covering small business for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @benpimentel, on Google+ and on LinkedIn.

For more information about how to start and run a business, visit NerdWallet’s Small Business Guide. For free, personalized answers to questions about starting and financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

Top image via iStock.

May 12, 2015 · Financial Partners · Comments Off on Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc.: Memphis Banking Veterans Join Pinnacle to …

Presentation and streaming audio:

Audio only: 1-877-602-7944

NASHVILLE, Tenn. amp; MEMPHIS, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– A team of long-term Memphis financial services professionals have joined Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc. (Nasdaq/NGS: PNFP) (Pinnacle) to accelerate the firms expansion into Memphis.

May 12, 2015 · Manage Debt · Comments Off on Gold improves on non-farm reflection

Gold edged higher as the dollar hit some minor turbulence following last weeks non-farm payroll data.

April job creation of 233,000 was in line with forecasts, but the rate of unemployment in the US fell to a new seven year low again raising the possibility of an interest rate rise at the next meeting.

Sentiment against had been mounting against the metal prior to the nonfarms, with long or buy positions in the futures market seeing the largest weekly decline for six months in the week to 5 May.

UBS said the reduction reflected a 10% reduction in gross long positions and a 10% rise in shorts or sells.

At 8.09moz, net longs in gold are at their lowest since late March and are 24% of their record.

The broker still sees Greece as a potential catalyst for the gold price, with negotiations now entering a crucial phase.

An agreement needs to be reached by end-June in order for Greece to manage debt payments due in July and August.

Failure to reach a deal would heighten the risks of a Greek default, and for this reason the rate of decline seen last week in gold positions is unlikely to be sustained, the broker suggests.

Commerzbank added that the US labour market data was not strong enough to provoke golds recent dip, despite showing a robust job creation rate and a decline in the unemployment rate, but equity markets were.

Clearly gold has once again been switched to equities as US equity markets have been rising the Samp;P 500 is now only just below its record high of late April.

Shortly after the start of trading on Wall Street, gold was US$4 higher at 1,190. Silver was trading at US$16.5 and platinum had shed US$9 to US$1,130.

Major movers

Randgold Resources down 25p at 4,741p

Fresnillo up 3p at 709p

Anglo American up 11p at 1,127p