Innovation Finance® seeks to be the best, most trusted business equipment financing company in the United States.
Twenty years ago, Cornell law student Bill Verhelle, along with business partner Guy Klinger, founded First American Commercial Bancorp, Inc. (d/b/a First American Equipment Finance®). They became experts at running a national commercial lending business, serving the interests of some of the largest and most sophisticated borrowers in America. First American continues to be one of the largest commercial equipment finance businesses operating in the U.S. 1
In 2012, Bill and Guy sold First American Equipment Finance to City National Bank®. Three years later, in 2015, Bill resigned from City National as CEO of First American. Innovation Finance was founded in 2018. During 2018, several top officers from First American joined Innovation Finance. The team from First American included Mark Tomaselli (President), formerly the Chief Technology Officer of First American, Mike Ziegelmann (Chief Financial Officer), formerly the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Credit Officer of First American, and Nathan Gibbons (Chief Operating Officer) previously an operations officer at First American.
The Existing Business Model is Broken.
The founders’ initial work in 2018 resulted in a groundbreaking proposition: commercial equipment finance in the U.S. is broken. Borrowers pay too much. The process takes too long. And the existing business model is opaque and inefficient for everyone involved.
Business borrowers must negotiate with loan officers or other salespeople, who are primarily tasked (and often compensated) to retain fees and interest rate enhancements for the banks or non-bank lenders. Multiple rounds of negotiation often occur on each new equipment loan or lease. Although often friendly, the process is needlessly adversarial and extraordinarily inefficient. The equipment loan and lease process lacks significant digitization, which creates ongoing inefficiencies for both lenders and borrowers throughout the entire repayment term.
The business model is almost certain to change in the coming decade, believes Verhelle. “If banks and industry finance professionals don’t adopt new approaches to better serve business borrowers, technology companies are destined to enter and dominate this market during the next decade,” suggests Verhelle. Unfortunately, Verhelle recognized several reasons why banks were unlikely to create the path forward.
Banks are organized for cost-leadership, not for innovation or disruption. By design, banks are rigid, hierarchical and lack in the needed team-based structures, cultural ingredients and agile technology skills to create new business models. It is exceedingly rare, in any industry, for a mature company to change its business model. Due to regulation and cultural considerations, it is nearly impossible for commercial banks to transform themselves.
The Innovation Finance Opportunity.
The opportunity Bill described to the Innovation Finance team was to imagine and build a new business
model to better serve creditworthy corporate borrowers by employing the latest technology, enabling an
entirely new, customer-friendly business model. QuickFi® was designed with one primary goal: to
dramatically improve the customer experience. QuickFi incorporates several exponentially advancing
technologies2 including artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, facial recognition, as well as
other emerging mobile, cloud, and data technologies.
Decades worth of experience, professional relationships, industry knowledge, and reputations as
successful equipment financing executives set up this founding team to begin this bold, new endeavor,
creating an entirely new lending platform for this $1T/year industry: QuickFi.
- Monitor Daily. (January 8, 2019). Monitor 100. Retrieved from https://www.monitordaily.com/monitor100/.
- Singularity University. (May 22, 2019). An Exponential Primer. Retrieved from https://su.org/concepts/.