Asenso Finance, a fintech startup trying to make it easier for small businesses to receive loans from community banks and financial institutions, is looking to raise $1 million in a new crowdfunding campaign.
Manhattan Beach-based Asenso is using the crowdfunding platform Wefunder.com to find retail investors willing to back its seed round. The startup, which launched last fall and is backed by Los Angeles venture studio Talino Venture Labs, is raising the funds at a $15 million pre-money valuation. It is also offering seed investors special “Early Bird” terms: those contributing the first $300,000 will invest in a simple agreement for future equity (SAFE) at a $12 million pre-money valuation, or a 20% discount. As of Monday afternoon, it had raised nearly $91,000.
Asenso aims to close the round by the end of the first quarter or early second quarter, Carina Oriel, the firm’s corporate development and strategy lead, told dot.LA. The company plans to deploy 40% of the funds toward developing its technology, 30% toward working capital and 30% toward marketing, she added.
Asenso’s digital platform attempts to digitize the loan application and servicing process for community banks and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), with the goal of making it easier for small business owners to receive loans at affordable interest rates. That digitization allows community banks and CDFIs to provide more loans to more small businesses while cutting down on their operational costs.
The startup’s product arrives after the coronavirus pandemic devastated millions of small businesses across the country, forcing many to turn to programs like the Small Business Administration’s beleaguered Paycheck Protection Program to find relief. In 2020, 62% of businesses received a coronavirus-related loan or grant to keep their operations afloat, and many small businesses still feel uncertain about their prospects nearly two years after the pandemic’s onset.
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