This past October, FinTech Frontier hosted its inaugural Fintech Pitch Competition. From submissions spanning seven different countries, we selected a small group of finalists to compete for $60,000 in cash prizes. Since the competition, our finalists have been launching products, expanding their footprint, and scaling to new heights. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with George Cook, CEO of Pittsburgh-based Honeycomb Credit, to learn more about his experience in the fintech space and how Honeycomb’s grand-prize win has presented new opportunities for the organization.
Before we get started, can you remind readers about HoneyComb Credit?
Honeycomb Credit is a loan crowdfunding website, where locally owned small businesses can borrow fair loans from their own customers, fans, and community members.
We are opening the door for businesses, who are increasingly shut out from traditional lenders, to access capital that fits their budget. Simultaneously, for the first time, we are allowing anyone to invest in their own local community, to build wealth beside their favorite small businesses, and to create lasting change in our Main Street communities.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of building and growing your business in the fintech industry and why?
Money is a deeply personal topic – how people borrow, save, and invest are all sensitive topics. That means to run a successful fintech, particularly a consumer-facing fintech, there is an extremely high threshold of trust that you must overcome and that any traction is an incredible badge of honor. We are humbled that in our short history we have been able to deploy more than $3,000,000 to over 100 small businesses with the support of thousands of investors. These early wins tell us that we have built something that truly resonates with our customers
How has winning the Fintech Frontier Pitch Competition affected your business?
As a scaling startup, the cash prize is obviously welcome, but far more important is the opportunity to share our idea and traction with industry leaders and get their feedback and validation. This gives us credibility in the fintech community and opens doors for partnerships with financial institutions like sponsors Fifth Third and Western & Southern, and with others who admire their thought leadership.
Looking back on 2020, what would you say was your biggest or proudest achievement (besides winning the Pitch Competition, of course.)
Our key clients are Main Street small businesses, who have obviously taken a tremendous hit through the crisis. Many small business lenders threw in the proverbial towel and either shutdown altogether or dramatically pulled back on lending to small businesses.
But Honeycomb was different, we saw this as a moment that was aligned with our mission of unlocking capital for Main Street businesses to build vibrant, financially empowered communities. I am so proud of how our team rose to the challenge, making product improvements and being a resource to so many small businesses that were being turned away elsewhere. 2020 has taught us that community capital can and should be a meaningful piece of the solution to more equitable Main Street funding and more resilient communities.
What does 2021 hold for HoneyComb Credit? Do you have any exciting news or initiatives you’d like to share?
Through the hard work of the team we are rolling into 2021 with tremendous momentum. We’re excited to continue our geographic expansion to serve small businesses and investors all over the country.