I'm Levi King - Startup Founder/Serial Entrepreneur. As the Co-founder and CEO of Nav, a venture-backed FinTech company, my goal is to help business owners get affordable financing by giving them free access to their business credit data. Go ahead AMA!

Levi King
Aug 8, 2018

Prior to starting Nav.com, I co-founded Lendio, an online business financing matchmaker that helped more than 1 million businesses search for funding. In the last 18 years, I’ve started five other successful small businesses in a variety of industries. After getting a handle on how business credit works, I was able to get business loans and financing more than 30 times. Go ahead ASK ME ANYTHING!

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What are the current key metrics that the management team focuses on?
Aug 10, 2:55PM EDT0

Right now, we're really focused on introducing more small business owners to the platform. Earlier this year, we surpassed 400,000 users - which shows that people want to learn and understand about their business credit. And we have a lifetime value model, so we view our customers as being partners for life. That means looking at metrics like revenue per customer (via product referrals and our premium accounts) and ways we can increase that metric by continually adding more value to our platform. Another metric we care about is customer satisifaction — some of that is measured in return visits and NPS scores. We know that if we continue to create value and help our customers make better decisions that save them time and money we'll build their trust and whether it's today or five years from now, they'll use Nav to get a loan or pay to get deeper insights into their financial data.

Aug 10, 5:23PM EDT0
How does Nav compare to other sites like it?
Aug 9, 5:51PM EDT0

Nav isn't like other sites. Nav.com is the only place where you can see both business and personal credit information in one dashboard. Nav's marketplace is also lender-neutral, meaning we don't give favor to one company over another. Whatever financing option and lender is the best fit for your business is what is presented. No gimmicks.

Aug 9, 6:49PM EDT0
What tools does Nav offer to help with building credit?
Aug 9, 2:00PM EDT0

Nav offers step-by-step assistance, both in our app and through our live Customer SupportTeam, outlining what business owners need/can do to to build their business credit profile. Whenever possible, we "do it for you"... you just have to click a few buttons.

Aug 9, 6:49PM EDT0
What are the first three steps in getting a small business loan?
Aug 9, 12:34AM EDT0

1) Sign up at Nav.com

2) Complete your business profile entirely (The more information you share, the better matched you are to financing options and lenders)

3) We match you to your best loan option, based on your info, and connect you to the lenders.

Aug 9, 12:50PM EDT0
Why is checking our personal and business credit scores so important?
Aug 8, 9:19PM EDT0

As a business owner, this could seriously be the most important thing that you do on a regular basis. If you aren't paying attention to what shape your credit is in, it could lead to serious issues in the future when you go to apply for financing of any kind. Business owner's depend on credit to manage cash flow and essentially stay in business or grow. You can't get a loan if your credit stinks — not one that's affordable anyway. Plus, your vendors and suppliers can check your scores. It's near impossible to survive if you have to pay cash on delivery. They'll extend you sweet net payment terms (30 or 60 days) if your credit scores are legit. It's also important to monitor your credit to make sure that you aren't a victim of identify theft. In reviewing the report, if you find accounts that don't belong to you, you'll want to correct this immediately. Personally, I recommend that business owners use a free monitoring service for both personal and business credit. Obviously, I'm biased, but Nav is the only place to monitor both from one platform.

Aug 10, 1:39PM EDT0

So why is it you are so cool? You must have some great mentors and people that have guided you through your start up phase. What is the most important lesson you have learned? 

Aug 8, 5:59PM EDT2

The last thing I would describe myself is as cool. But I will say I've had some incredible mentors along this journey, including my parents, a boss who encouraged me to quit school and open my first business, and the writer and entrepreneurial genius Randy Komisar. I'd say that the three most fundamental lessons I've learned about startups are as follows:

1) You're going to suffer no matter what. It's always going to be harder than you think.

2) Your personal & business credit scores matter a great deal. They'll make all the difference in whether you can find affordable financing.

3) Financing is the lifeblood for your venture. You've got to prepare yourself in every possible way to qualify for it. This will take discipline, foresight, & maybe even a sleepless night or two. But if your bank trusts you, your vendors trust you, etc. etc. etc., that will eventually translate into success. 

Aug 10, 2:53PM EDT0
What are some of the effective methods you would have used to generate financial ratios and gauge business's’ financial status?
Aug 8, 3:11PM EDT0

Business credit scores are one measure of a business owner's financial health. Those scores vary widely based on the business report and the scoring model being used. Like consumer credit scores, business credit scores are one piece of a business' overall financial health and they help ensure that your business seems healthy to a lender. The debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) is another ratio that can be important to lenders. Here's more info on what that is and how to manage yours: www.nav.com/resource/debt-service-coverage-ratio/

Aug 8, 3:55PM EDT0
What’s your prediction for the future of the business credit industry – how will people approach the topic in, say, ten years?
Aug 8, 2:16PM EDT1

In looking forward, I always like to look back and consider how things have already changed. Ten years ago, if you asked consumers if they knew their FICO scores, you’d probably be met with a blank stare. Today, CreditKarma has 40 million members and many major card issuers provide cardholders with a FICO score updated monthly. Awareness of consumer credit scores is at an all time high. It is this existing awareness, along with technology that facilitates transparency into business credit and potential regulation, that leads me to believe that business credit scores will soon be going mainstream as well. towards business credit scores going mainstream even faster. In a few years years, beyond credit scores, I could easily see the norm being real-time views into business credibility and health by using multiple data sources, like traditional credit, cash flow, social, etc.

Aug 10, 1:37PM EDT0
How important is gathering personal information and knowing the customer for you?
Aug 8, 12:02PM EDT0

Unless we're able to capture information and understand who are customers are and what they need, the Nav platform is useless. The information that users are asked when they sign up or call our Customer Service Team is vital in helping match them to the financing options that best fit them. It's like buying a car - unless you share what you need in a car, your budget and how you're going to use the car, a salesman could show you everything on the lot. If you give details to him, he can quickly determine what would be worth your time in seeing, saving you a great deal of time and frustration.

Aug 9, 12:54PM EDT0
What are the main challenges that startup Nav currently faces and what is being done to tackle that?
Aug 8, 10:51AM EDT0

Brand awareness is an issue for us. The people who know of Nav and use our app love us, but we've only tapped the surface of reaching all the small business owners in the United States. Nav's internal marketing team is working day and night to get our name out there through advertising, media mentions and social media. Another challenge is category awareness: a lot of people still don't know that business credit scores exist and why they're important.

Aug 9, 12:48PM EDT0
What are Nav's plans for 2018 and beyond?
Aug 8, 9:28AM EDT0

Introducing more small business owners to Nav and providing an even better experience to our customers with new data sets and easier ways of improving and leveraging their financial health. Our plan is to be helping more than a million business owners in the next year or two.

Aug 8, 5:26PM EDT0
What, in your opinion, the most important change coming to delivering financial services to small businesses – whether payments or financing – in the next 3-5 years?
Aug 8, 8:42AM EDT0

I think the most important change is that the financing application will die. Business owners will be providing with pre-approved offers and simply click a button to access the cash. In order to do this, lenders must be connected to the data ecosystem. If you are connected you can make pro-active offers before the business owner even knows they'll need cash. You can also intercept their natural path when they need financing, like going to their bank or Googling it. Lenders that are not connected to the data ecosystem will lose marketshare.

Aug 8, 4:57PM EDT0
What methods do you use to compare the liquidity, profitability, and credit histories of corporations?
Aug 8, 6:06AM EDT0

At Nav, we use a proprietary business intelligence scoring to rank and compare anonymized customer information in order to present the best low-cost financing offers that are available. For liquidity and profitability, we leverage our partner relationships.

Aug 9, 6:48PM EDT0
How do financial institutions embrace relationships with FinTech startups? Why is it important?
Aug 7, 11:27PM EDT0

They embrace relationships because fintech is innovating in ways, especially around UX, that the market has come to expect. It can be difficult for larger financial institutions to keep pace, so they're partnering with fintech partners where it makes sense.

Aug 8, 3:42PM EDT0
How does your app work? What happens when a business signs up? What are the steps that follow to get your business credit reports?
Aug 6, 10:39PM EDT0

Both our website (nav.com) and our app are easy to navigate and the experience is totally free. To access free personal and business credit reports, all you'll need to do is create an account at nav.com and provide answer a couple security questions. You'll instantly see your personal and business credit reports. If the business credit bureaus doesn't have a file for your business, we can help you establish business credit, such as a getting a DUNS number and tradelines that report to business credit bureaus. I was clueless about this stuff when I started out). The more information that is provided, the better the app works for small business owners because we can make smarter recommendations for you. If you have any questions, we have a live customer support team that is available to assist in creating the profile and helping you every step of the way.

Aug 8, 4:56PM EDT0
What challenges regarding business regulations are facing most of small companies nowadays and how does Nav help them?
Aug 6, 6:06AM EDT0

Depending on where a small businesses is located, there may be a number of regulations that impact its ability to grow. Here are examples of nine weird regulations that some business owners face: www.nav.com/blog/weird-regulations-that-could-impact-your-business-21834/. Our goal at Nav is to help business owners build their business credit and profile so that when new regulations come along and they quickly need access to more financing it isn't a struggle to get approved. For example, if a mandate states that all small businesses must provide free healthcare to employees, owners may need to take out a line of credit or gather additional financing to begin covering these costs immediately.

Last edited @ Aug 8, 3:41PM EDT.
Aug 8, 3:41PM EDT0
What are some of the main reasons as to why businesses are denied funding?
Jul 21, 5:12PM EDT0

Small businesses can be denied funding for a number of reasons. Depending on the lender, loan decisions can be based a lot of different reasons, including poor personal credit history, poor or non-existent business credit history, not enough time in business, the risk associated with business industry, lack of collateral from the business owner, poor cash flow, or an incomplete application. If you've been denied a loan, you can learn more about what to do here: www.nav.com/blog/loan-denial-7558/

Aug 8, 3:53PM EDT0
When did you start Nev? How did you get the funding this startup?
Jul 21, 2:18PM EDT0

I started Nav with my partner Caton Hanson in 2012. Starting Nav.com was such a passion of mine that I invested a lot of my own money to get the business going. I also shared my idea with a lot of people that eventually ended up investing in the company as well.

Aug 8, 3:37PM EDT0
In your experience, how should innovation and technology be used to solve financial inclusion problems, especially for business owners?
Jul 21, 2:06AM EDT0

When I started my first business almost 20 years ago, I had to write, print, stamp etc. physical letters to find out my credit scores and rectify problems (whether they were my fault or someone else's). Happily, technology and innovation have rendered that kind of labor completely unnecessary. Financing is still complex, but unraveling the knot is now a matter of pressing buttons on your phone versus sprinting to a post office. Nav's goal is to bring transparency to every step of this process, from understanding your basic data to knowing what lenders are looking for. We're also big fans of using alternative data sets, beyond traditional credit reporting, to get more business owners the funding and affordable rates they deserve.

Aug 9, 6:47PM EDT0
What real changes do you hope Nav to make over the coming years?
Jul 20, 6:04PM EDT0

Product-wise, we're hustling every day to add features that'll help small business owners get the info necessary to save time to build and grow their businesses. We want to take away the burden of having to devote a bunch of time to managing financial health by guiding business owners on the best decision to make, and being pro-active in recommendations to help them avoid mistakes that can sink their business. We're also making strategic partnerships, like-minded brands , who'll help us achieve this goal. Our ultimate goal is create a future in which no small business ever has to close its doors due to poor credit scores/lack of financing options.

Aug 8, 3:35PM EDT0
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