Interview of Justin Cheng, CEO of digital loan network Celeri Network

Josiah Motley · June 1, 2020 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/5051

A look at how the company helps businesses secure loans through its network of lenders

Starting a business can be a huge challenge. Just coming up with a successful business plan is tough enough, not to mention enduring the stress of long hours, finding a good team, and overcoming the competition. Then there's also the whole funding part of starting a business.

Now, maybe in a perfect world, your business will have a low starting cost and become profitable quickly, but for many, that just simply isn't feasible. Then, past the startup phase, businesses will sometimes need additional capital to help with ongoing business expenses or possibly as an investment in future plans.

There are plenty of ways you can go about earning funding. For some, and especially during the startup phase, friends and family are a great place to start. There's also investor funding. But the most traditional way is through taking out a loan.

This process can be time-consuming and overwhelming, but Celeri Network, founded in 2019, is hoping to help with that through its digital loan network that helps connect borrowers and lenders. 

I had the chance to speak with Justin Cheng of Celeri Network to learn more about the company, the system used to match people with lenders, and how Celeri Network is helping with the CARES Act.

You can find the interview below.

Care to introduce yourself and your role at Celeri Network?

Sure! I’m Justin Cheng, and I’m the CEO of Celeri Network. 

In just a few sentences, what is Celeri Network?

Celeri Network, which we founded in October of last year is, at the moment, a digital loan network. We primarily extend loans to businesses, though we also do some student lending and refinancing work.

I say “at the moment,” because we’re also currently working to expand our operations into a more full-service digital banking operation. 

What inspired the creation of the company?

I’m sort of a serial entrepreneur. In college, I founded my own marketing agency (which I sold), and have done interning and contracting work for Wall Street banks and the Department of Defense. 

Throughout all of this, I was struck by how slowly the financial process moves for most businesses and thought that we could add value to the process by making things faster and easier for people seeking loans. So far, our thinking has proven to be correct - people and businesses are benefiting from our work, so that’s been very satisfying to see. 

Is there a certain sector you see applying for more loans than others? Especially right now, during COVID-19?

During COVID-19, we have helped fund millions of dollars of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for a wide variety of businesses.

For example, hair salons, restaurants, construction, and real estate companies represent a sampling of the types of businesses we have helped.

Recently, you announced Celeri Network would help meet the demands of the CARES Act - how so?

Because we’re set up to be able to process loans efficiently and at scale, we were able to help administer some of the Paycheck Protection Program funds offered by the CARES Act. 

Despite being a relatively new player in the space, we were able to help with millions of dollars in funds to help protect jobs and businesses.  

How do you connect borrowers with lenders?

We have a network of lenders that we consider for each loan application. In the ideal scenario, we match a borrower with multiple loan offers so they can select an option that works best for them. 

By using a network of lenders, it gives us an opportunity to bring multiple offers to an applicant. While we intend to bring more automation to the process, there is always a human element because the applicant can always speak to someone on our team. 

Besides loans, do you have any tips for entrepreneurs or startups looking to gain starting capital?

Friends and family funding rounds often come first. Angel investing and seed venture rounds come after that. Funding a new venture through revenue is always an option too. 

Anything new coming to Celeri in the coming months?

We can’t reveal all of the details yet, but we’re actively working to expand our business offerings beyond just loans - in fact, we’re moving toward a model in which businesses can use us not just for getting loans, but also for competitive services that you might find with a more traditional financial institution. 

Would you like to add anything before we close?

While we have helped our clients with millions of dollars of PPP funding, there are still many more people to be helped during and after this crisis. 

We intend to continue our work helping businesses succeed with their financial goals. Our team has pulled together to assist thousands of loan applicants and we will continue to do so.

I'd like to thank Justin for taking the time to answer some of my questions.

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Josiah Motley

Contributor at various blogs, with a focus on tech, apps, gadgets, and gaming.

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