Brooklyn Heights education lending startup CommonBond recently raised a significant $100 million equity round, led by Tribeca Venture Partners and, as the New York Times reports, including former head of Citigroup Vikram Pandit.
Founded by three MBA students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, CommonBond seeks to provide lower interest rates on student loans by pooling investments from school alumni. Under it’s social mission, it directs part of its profits toward paying for schooling of children in Africa.
CommonBond also organizes a lot of happy hours, networking events and galas. The company blog is heavily tilted right now toward content from the summer interns. One intern writes about what “startup chic” has come to mean to him this summer. Evan Zawatsky, a marketing intern from UNC’s business school, writes of a desire from millennials for social networking that is less superficial:
What’s less clear is how CommonBond can sustain market beating interest rates when it is shouldering more loads than other lenders. It’s the balance of social entrepreneurship, between whether the customer bond mission brings about outpaces the additional costs.
CommonBond appears to be doing three kinds of work that other lenders do not traditionally do:
- Assembling pools of alumni to fund student loans
- Organizing social gatherings, which don’t appear to have a revenue component
- An explicit commitment to philanthropy — one year of school funded in Africa for every fully funded MBA student
Judging by the site’s investor FAQ, CommonBond could rely on the fact that it’s only funding very low risk students from schools and programs with a high earning potential in order to sustain the lower cost of loans. With heavy hitting investors now in the mix, however, eventually CommonBond will have to expand its lending beyond the very best students at the very best schools, in search of growth, and at that point their loans may get riskier, making those three extra jobs tougher to sustain.
Check out the video from the company’s second midsummer gala here: