Earnest, which provides merit-based loans for graduating students and young professionals, has secured $15 million in funding. Earnest’s investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Atlas Venture, Collaborative Fund, First Round Capital and Maveron.
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Earnest officially launched the world’s first merit-based loan program for financially responsible graduating students and young professionals. Rather than relying on yesterday’s outdated credit scoring process, Earnest uses its cutting-edge underwriting technology to better understand and evaluate individual borrowers. They do this through a data-driven evaluation of an applicant’s full financial profile, not simply their credit score, taking into account their current and future potential. Qualified applicants can choose one-year loans at 5.5 percent interest (APR) or two-year loans at 6.5 percent interest (APR) of $1,000 to $20,000. After offering successful initial programs across Massachusetts and Florida, Earnest loans are now immediately available in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Connecticut, New Jersey and Utah. Interested applicants should go to www.meetearnest.com to learn more.
In addition, Earnest announced that it has closed $15 million to fund the next stage of its expansion. Earnest has the confidence of some of the best investors in the world, including Andreessen Horowitz, Atlas Venture, Collaborative Fund, First Round Capital and Maveron plus a small group of visionary angels.
“We are excited to offer loans to people who are independently building their future and deserve a smart and fair financial option for important life events and milestones,” said Louis Beryl, co-founder and CEO of Earnest. “Our clients have been using their Earnest loans for responsible milestone purchases. We love getting to know their life stories since we get to play a small part in it, whether it is moving into a new apartment or purchasing an engagement ring. It is all about making it happen for them in a financially responsible way.”
Merit-Based Lending: How Earnest is Different
In contrast to other consumer lenders that focus only on credit history, Earnest takes a modern approach, evaluating individual applicants on their current situation and future potential by analyzing data including income, savings, monthly budget, education history and future income potential. Applicants simply complete their online profile, providing Earnest with a clearer picture of who they are, what they have done and their future potential, beyond their credit score. This data is a critical part of Earnest’s underwriting process, and is also used to verify identity and minimize fraud.
“Our clients are the first to understand the value of Earnest. The reality is that they are, in fact, excellent risks. They know it, and we know it, but most lenders are not taking the time or developing the technology to offer them a loan at a fair price,” continued Beryl. “We have developed a solution for allowing mutual trust. This is the beauty of Earnest – that it uses trust and technology to help clients realize their dreams.”
Earnest is able to offer low interest rates by taking advantage of software and data science, which helps minimize costs that are traditionally passed on to consumers. Rather than squeezing consumers for what they would pay for a loan, Earnest focuses on what a consumer should pay. Earnest loan interest rates are less than half of the average interest rates currently charged on a personal loan or credit card. There are no hidden fees or prepayment penalties.
“By eschewing the high cost infrastructure of the past and offering a more efficient system that allows for lower interest rates, Earnest is changing the consumer lending landscape,” said Jeff Fagnan, general partner, Atlas Venture. “Through this approach, we will be able to see firsthand how a focus on technology, mixed with financial prudence and trust, can generate real change in an old market.”
Client Feedback Leads to Expanded Product Offering
After launching its beta program in Massachusetts in March and expanding into Florida in April, Earnest maintained an open dialogue with every client throughout the application and lending process and learned that many would like smaller monthly payments while others wanted larger loans. As a result, Earnest has expanded its offering to include two-year loans, as well as its original one-year loans, and increased the total amount for which clients can apply to $20,000.
Earnest offers one- and two-year merit-based loans of $1,000 to $20,000 to financially responsible graduating students and young professionals. Earnest is able to offer very low interest rates by using its cutting-edge underwriting technology that looks beyond the outdated credit scoring process and includes a person’s future potential. Investors in Earnest include Andreessen Horowitz, Atlas Venture, Collaborative Fund, First Round Capital and Maveron. Founded in 2013 and privately owned, Earnest is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.meetearnest.com.