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KeyBank Acquires Small Business Lending Platform Bolstr

Digital lending platform for small businesses Bolstr has been acquired by KeyBank. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Chicago-based fintech, which takes a crowdfunding approach to helping communities support their local businesses, will help KeyBank provide SMEs with better access to both Small Business Administration (SBA) loans as well as traditional financing. Bolstr’s technology, to be implemented this year, will enable KeyBank to digitally process loan applications faster, saving time and money while providing business borrowers with a better lending experience.

“We are excited to work with an organization that is dedicated to helping communities and small businesses prosper,” Bolstr co-founder Charlie Tribbett said. “By combining our digital expertise and KeyBank’s industry knowledge, business owners will receive exceptional service and the efficient lending experience they need to be successful.”

The move from KeyBank comes as the company continues to execute on its $16.5 billion National Community Benefits Plan, which features a $2.5 billion commitment to small business lending over the next five years. One of the country’s leading lenders to small businesses, KeyBank issued 739 small business loans in 2017 totaling $318 million.

“KeyBank is deeply committed to helping small businesses thrive and to providing them with the funding they need to grow,” Head of KeyBank Business Banking, Jamie Warder said. “Bolstr’s technology transforms the small business lending process and allows us to more efficiently serve small businesses for their SBA and traditional lending needs,” Warder added.

Bolstr demonstrated its crowdfunding platform that enables individuals to invest in small businesses in their communities at FinovateFall 2012. Among the company’s innovations was a deal structure that allowed small business borrowers to repay funders with near-term payouts based on the sales success of the business. This allows small business owners to keep their equity and avoid going into significant debt.

Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Bolstr’s solution was the first crowdfunding platform designed to provide liquidity to local small businesses in the pre-JOBS Act era. Prior to this week’s announcement, the company had raised $2.3 million in funding from investors including Fusion Fund, DRW Venture Capital, and Montage Ventures.