Today's Entrepreneur: Steven Harlow

Kristin Karaoglu · September 14, 2011 · Short URL:

No. 1 mistake: Giving up when the roadblocks seem to high

Vator’s community is the home to entrepreneurs who embrace their passion and follow their dreams.
Our newly-designed profiles allow members to express themselves by sharing their interests, lessons learned, as well as bits and pieces of their roller-coaster journey.

These profiles give entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase themselves and tell their story. So if you are an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur, or even an aspiring entrepreneur, we'd like to hear from you.

Today's Entrepreneur is Steven Harlow, CEO and Founder of Lendsocial.

According to his VEQ Steven is a thought leader and is good at team motivation and sales management.

You are a(n):

First-time entrepreneur

Name companies you've founded or co-founded:


Name companies you've invested in:

Several through public trading. These include Google, BoA, Nvidia, First Solar, and more

Name startups you worked for:


If you are an entrepreneur, why?

I love eating Ramen.

List your favorite startups:


What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

The most frustrating is knowing you have a great product and wanting to speed it to market, but it's a patient process. The most rewarding, well, that will be when I can take a step back, look at what I've helped create, and be satisfied.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

Giving up when the roadblocks seem to high. They aren't, you can get around them. However, if an idea is an impossible one, you do have to know when to change it so that it becomes possible, or move on to the next.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

Perseverance, The importance of networks and connections, and the importance of finding the right people to be on your team.

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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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Name of Company:  Lendsocial


Name of Founder: Steven Harlow




Lendsocial will be an online "social lending" platform that connects business owners seeking funding, with lenders within their own community.  Lendsocial will combine aspects of popular social networking sites, with small business and peer-to-peer lending.


After a business applies and is approved to list their company on our website, they will build a business biography page that explains their business, the loan, and how they'll use and benefit from the funding.  Lending members are then allowed to support those businesses by dedicating funds that they have transferred into the Lendsocial system toward those projects.  Once enough funds have been dedicated, businesses will then be granted an unsecured loan and will begin to make monthly repayments to Lendsocial. 


The benefits to using our platform will be great for both our lending and borrowing members.  For our lenders, the benefits can be summarized in four main points.  First, Lendsocial will allow users increased freedom to support who the wish with their wealth, and complete transparency on how their money is used. Two, lending members will receive a generous fixed interest rate on the money that they have out on loan, which provides a healthy return on investment, while reducing risk and potential negative feelings toward those businesses who default. Three, lenders will be able to feel good, knowing they've helped those in need and stimulating the local economy.  And finally, perhaps the greatest feature of Lendsocial, we'll provide a platform that allows for beneficial real-world relationships and networking to form.


Which brings us to our borrowers: Our platform will not only allow our small business owners to acquire the funds they need to startup or expand their business, but will provide them with a network of individuals in their community who already have a vested interest in their success.  These individuals may become customers, resources, or advocates for the business.  Our platform will also encourage business-to-business cooperation through creative incentives.  One such incentive will be the use of regions and region pages.  Businesses within a certain geographic region will be grouped together, and if that regions default rate is less than a given percentage, each business in that region will receive a 1% rebate on their loan.


While our costumer face will be geared more toward loans meet web 2.0, our business model is more related to brick and mortar lending agencies.  We'll charge a fixed rate interest rate on our loans to businesses, and Lendsocial's revenue will come from the difference between our average business loan rate and our lending member's fixed rate.  In order to maximize customer satisfaction and adhere to our values, Lendsocial will limit the amount and cost of fees.  


Overall, I believe that Lendsocial is the future of small business lending.  Our mantra is build community, and I believe that's exactly what we'll do.



I will now address some of the questions of the Vator Splash competition:

  1. Novelty/innovation - Does this product/service solve a clear market problem? Is it a new and novel approach to solve a problem? Is there enough differentiation that gives this idea a fighting chance against competitors?
  2. Market potential - Is the market a big macro opportunity? Does this startup have a clear market niche and user group? Did they indicate clearly their go-to-market strategy to attract users? Did they clearly articulate their business model? Did they demonstrate how they will compete effectively? Is this business a venture-backed opportunity or a life-style business?
  3. Team - Is the team relevant to the opportunity? Does the team have the expertise to succeed? Is the team clear about the objectives? Can the team convey the opportunity?

1. There are a number of problems in the current lending market that Lendsocial will adress.  These include: 1)  The ability for small businesses to access capital.  2) The impersonal nature of lending and loans.  While you may have a personal relationship with your banker you do not have a personal relationship with those individuals whose money it actually is you're borrowing.  Lendsocial will allow for that and we believe it will result in better relationships between businesses and the community.  3) Safe, fairly liquid investments with healthy returns.  Current savings account rates rarely break above 1%.  Lendsocial will.

In addition, we feel that Lendsocial will occupy a currently vacant niche.  While there are peer-to-peer lenders such as, or crowdfunding sources such as or, none of them will combine the level of social networking, community building, and community involvement that we will.  In addition, no other website lending company will offer fixed rate interest on loaned money.  Most other models either don't return the money (it's donated), return the money you orignally put in (0% interest), or risk your money against the companies success ("gambling" your money).  Lendsocial will offer a safe, ease-of-mind investment opportunity.


2. Market Potential: The lending market is a huge one.  More than $50 million worth in SBA loans are granted each day, and still "Nearly 35 percent of respondents (in a Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project's fall 2011 study) said "increased access to capital" would be the change most likely to spur small-business job creation, with bank loans preferred by the vast majority".  

Our marketing toward business clients will be directed towards those who have been overlooked by traditional banking. those who want to benefit from the community building and networking, and who have family and friends who want to help their business, but want to minimize the risk to those close to them.  Our marketing toward our lending members will be toward those who are looking to inject capital into their local area, looking for an ethical lending organization that they can trust, looking to build relationships within their community, and those looking for a safe and profitable investment.


3. Team:  Since this business is still in it's infancy, we fully acknowledge that our team is still incomplete.  Lendsocial is ran primarily by Steven Harlow, who has strong research, interpersonal, and management skills.  Steven is assisted by David Harlow, who has strong project management and networking skills.  Lendsocial is in the process of acquiring a partner with banking and lending, or succesful startup launch experience and have conducted interviews and currently have several strong leads.  

We are currently advised closely by a diverse group of strongly supporting individuals in the areas of banking and lending policy, legal issues and regulations, and management.  These individuals are CPAs, Lawyers, MBAs, and Vice Presidents.  We have a long list of short-term and long-term objectives that we have identified and are striving to reach in order to bring Lendsocial to launch and profitability.



Steven Harlow

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