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Need a Loan? Let's Look at Your LinkedIn Profile First. The startup Earnest, which has $15 million in financing from big-name investors, has an alternative way of determining who qualifies for a personal loan.

By Michelle Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Louis Beryl remembers how tough it was to get credit when he was in his 20s, even with a solid résumé and a spotless financial history. "If you're low risk, you deserve a low interest rate," insists the Harvard MBA and former Wall Streeter, now 33.

When he became a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in 2012, he hoped to find a financial technology startup involved in building what he calls "the modern bank for the next generation of consumers." He didn't. So in 2013 he founded Earnest, an online lender of low-cost personal loans to financially sound applicants. His co-founder was Benjamin Hutchinson, a finance exec who had worked at the U.K.'s HM Treasury during the banking meltdown.

San Francisco-based Earnest has launched in 19 states and closed $15 million in financing from Andreessen Horowitz, Atlas Venture, Collaborative Fund, First Round Capital and Maveron, as well as more than 15 angel investors. Earnest has loaned approximately $2 million to young people who need cash for moving costs, weddings, home repairs, vacations, furniture and the like. Beryl, who serves as CEO, expects that number to hit $10 million by year's end.

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