Finance / Funding / Startups

Fintech startup Cerebro Capital is using data to help midsize companies find loans

The Mt. Vernon company's platform is looking to make it easier for CFOs to find working capital. It raised $2 million in Series A funding from Sterling Partners and TEDCO.

Cerebro Capital founder Matthew Bjonerud. (Courtesy photo)

To find the loans that will help their businesses operate and grow, CFOs, controllers and other leaders also need data about what’s available.
Yet, Matthew Bjonerud saw that companies have different levels of access to information, depending on their size. Over a decade working in corporate banking, Bjonerud saw that midsize companies often struggled to find loans, whereas bigger corporations had through powerful yet expensive tools like the Bloomberg Terminal.
Meanwhile, small businesses have access to credit lines from online sources of up to $500,000.
But for medium and large-sized businesses, there’s not the same level of access.
“For middle market companies that want multimillion dollar loans, there’s really no place to be able to get that information,”  said Bjonerud, who also worked on debt and equity transactions at Laureate Education, including through the time of its initial public offering last year.
Over two years, Bjonerud set out to build such a place. Working nights and weekends at Bjonerud’s kitchen table, the founder and CTO Kevin Dieter created Cerebro Capital. Bjonerud filed for patents in the fall of 2017, and the platform initially launched.
On Wednesday, the company is announcing that it raised $2 million in Series A funding from Sterling Partners and TEDCO that will help make hires in engineering, scale the platform and build capacity in sales.
Bjonerud said the platform has data from 80 banks that dates back 20 years. For CFOs dealing with all of a company’s numbers, “This system is really attractive because it saves them incredible amount of time, and gives them data they haven’t had access to before,” Bjonerud said.
For companies seeking a new loan, it seeks to match companies with lenders, and provides info on what kind of loans they offer. That data is from commercial banks, regional banks as well as non-bank lenders, among others. The platform also provides analytics showing availability of good terms to refinance.
For companies that already have a lender with tools that automate the process of tracking and complying with a loan. In many cases, the go-to tool for that work is a spreadsheet.
In turn, it gives the lenders a place to get new business, and provides key information about a borrower.
So far, the platform has facilitated $1.2 billion in loans, the majority of which were $50 million or lower. The startup offers an initial appraisal for free, then charges for access to additional services.
The company now has a team of five full-time employees working out of the CO-OP in Mt. Vernon. Sterling Partners cofounder Doug Becker, who until the beginning of the year was CEO of Laureate Education, is also on the company’s board.
Along with the investment capital so far, Bjonerud said the Baltimore and D.C. area has been an initial source of business, as well.
“It was built out of the needs that we saw for borrowers…Over my whole career, I’ve seen more than enough middle market companies that could benefit from this service right here in the Greater Baltimore area,” Bjonerud said.

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