• March 21, 2018
3 minutes Read
By: Parris Sanz, Chief Executive Officer, CAN Capital Inc.
This month marks a landmark in our history: 20 years of helping small businesses succeed by providing them with fast, efficient access to working capital. This unprecedented milestone is a testament to the extraordinary people I’ve been able to work with, not only my colleagues and industry partners but the tens of thousands of small business owners we’ve supported.
Often, I find myself thinking about our first customer – who was also our founder – and the seedling idea that grew into CAN Capital and laid the foundation for two decades of innovation and growth.
Where we started
In 1998, entrepreneur Barbara Johnson was running four Gymboree franchises in Connecticut. Battling against seasonal peaks and troughs in revenue, she was surprised by how much trouble she had finding working capital to balance out the year and drive her marketing efforts for fall enrollment.
The process with traditional banks was frustrating; they asked for endless amounts of paperwork, required long wait times, and wouldn’t structure a payment plan that reflected the Gymboree’s varying income from month to month. As she came up against roadblock after roadblock, Barbara teamed up with her husband Gary to craft a new funding solution – not just for herself, but for small businesses across the country.
Together they developed a platform that split card receipts, so a fixed percentage of a business’s credit card sales was automatically remitted whenever they batched out with their credit card processor. This pioneering remittance model allowed businesses to make flexible daily payments, rather than fixed monthly payments (the typical rigid pay structure of traditional bank products). It also aligned payments with a business’s credit card sales, so a larger amount would be remitted on a busier day, versus smaller amounts on slower days.
With these innovations, the industry standard now known as the Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) was born. Having partnered with a card processor, business started to flow into the new company, which began as Countrywide Business Alliance, later was renamed Capital Access Network, and ultimately, CAN Capital. Originating the MCA and establishing best practices across the alternative finance space has given us experience and data that no one else can match.
Across two decades, we’ve served over 76 thousand small businesses. Listening to and learning from our customers has helped us create innovative products that meet small business owners’ need for speed and convenience. Many independent sales organizations (ISOs) came to be because of the MCA and we still partner with many of these folks today.
Looking ahead: the next twenty years
As a business, we’ve lived through and thrived during socioeconomic and technological disruption. When we first opened our doors in 1998, Apple had just released its first iMac and Nokia was the go-to mobile phone. We’ve helped customers through numerous economic cycles, from the bursting of the Internet bubble in 2000 to the Great Recession, and from the long bull market to the current volatility. Like any business, we’ve had some tough times, but the strength and dedication of our team and our partners pulled us through.
Looking ahead, we are committed to remaining industry pioneers, focused on crafting new and innovative business solutions for our growing small business market. The models we have in place leverage decades of data and intelligence to understand customer behavior and build new products. We’re here for our clients to talk through any concerns and provide a high-touch customer service experience. We’ll also be prioritizing partnerships with other fintech leaders that complement our product suite and expand our reach.
Before I close, I want to share some recent success stories from our customers, whose businesses have thrived with our support, and highlight our familiarity with an array of different industries:
Our funding for a high-spirited, Venezuelan restaurant group with two locations in Massachusetts, showcases the growth potential of signing up with CAN Capital. The business owner had dreamed of opening a restaurant, which came true in 1996. Building on our experience working with small business owners through a variety of growth challenges, we provided him with $150,000 in initial funding. With our support, he has managed to remodel his business, add a second location, and has seen credit card sales reach over $200,000 at the flagship location.
Having also struggled with funding in our humble beginnings two decades ago, we understood the potential roadblocks that Gicela Polanco could face while seeking to grow her New York-based Reaction Beauty Salon. She started her business by renting a stall at a salon, but through our support over ten years (recently renewing for $135,000), Gicela has managed to expand and open three thriving locations.
It’s incredibly rewarding to hear these success stories, especially with long-term customers like Gicela. We are very excited to continue our journey and support the expansion of more small businesses.
After twenty years, we are proud to be the most experienced alternative finance company in the market today, and our mission remains as true as ever: to help small businesses succeed.