Perspectives from Marketplace Lending Platform Founders at LendIt USA


I am just getting back after taking a vacation following LendIt USA 2016. While the lead up to LendIt USA, which is our largest conference is a busy time of the year, the conference always goes by quickly. I was able to catch just a few sessions throughout the event and plan to watch all of the recorded sessions in the coming weeks. I wanted to share my favorite panel that I was able to see live which was titled Platform Founders’ Stories.

We often hear about the successes of various platforms, but there is often a lot more to the story for entrepreneurs that have started platforms in the marketplace lending industry. In this panel several entrepreneurs shared how they got to where they are today. LendIt Co-Founder Jason Jones moderated the panel which consisted of David Klein (CommonBond), David Girouard (UpStart), Michael Solomon (CircleBack Lending) and David Gilbert (National Funding).

I enjoyed hearing the diverse background of each founder and how they came to get involved in the industry. It’s important to realize that success didn’t happen overnight for these companies and they faced many challenges in their journey of entrepreneurship. Hearing the details behind each of these companies is fascinating and newcomers can certainly learn a lot from these industry veterans.

Below you will find the full video of this panel which will give you the full picture, but below are the main points about each entrepreneur’s background. 

  • David Klein came from a family of entrepreneurs and was the first in his family to work at a company. He eventually went to business school and had to deal with the pain of student debt. He started CommonBond during this time, which was his solution to the problem.
  • David Gilbert started his company at 23 years old and has now been running National Funding for 17 years. They started in equipment leasing and eventually made their way to working capital and alternative finance. He owns 100% of National Funding, which is almost unheard of these days for companies that have successfully scaled a business in the industry.
  • Michael Solomon, an attorney started his company in the early days of p2p lending when it was just Lending Club and Prosper in the US. He persevered through various challenges early on due to timing, pivoted his business and eventually formed CircleBack Lending. When he started his first company he drafted his own S-1 registration.
  • David Girouard worked at Google for 8 years in what eventually became known as Google Apps. Although having a very successful career at Google, he still had the desire to start his own business. Leaning on his experience from Google and bringing some co-workers with him, he eventually started Upstart to provide credit to thin file borrowers. Having a team that consists of several ex-Googlers certainly makes Upstart unique as they have a different approach than other platforms in the industry.


If you attended LendIt we hope you enjoyed your time. The Lend Academy team is now back in full swing and we will be writing about some of the major themes that came out of LendIt this year. All recorded sessions are now available on the LendIt website. If there is a session you found particularly interesting feel free to share it with us in the comments.