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Free Online Service Matches Small Businesses With Lenders An art school uses an online lending matchmaker to find capital.

By Michelle Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Olya Losina

When the economy tanked around 2008, enrollment in Olya Losina's fledgling art school began to wane. Marketing the San Diego-based Losina Art Center to a new crop of students required cash the painter and her husband/business partner, Bill Beatty, didn't have. So in late 2011 they created a profile on Lendio, a free online service that matches small businesses with lenders. Within minutes, they had a customized list of half a dozen potential lenders offering the five-figure, short-term financing they were seeking. Within days, they received the cash they needed.

Lendio CEO Brock Blake says 300 U.S. lending institutions and nearly 1,300 individual lenders participate in the automated web platform, from banks and credit unions offering traditional, long-term loans to fast-cash alternative financiers such as peer-to-peer lenders and merchant cash-advance providers. Each month, roughly 10,000 business owners come to the 2-year-old site looking for financing, 60 to 70 percent of whom are approved for a loan, Blake says.

Losina sketched out how Lendio and her specific lender, On Deck, helped keep her art school afloat.

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