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Tech start-up stays Nimble with $1.5 million cash boost

Tuesday, 5 February 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Queensland-based tech start-up Nimble will ramp up development of its credit assessment and fraud prevention platform, after raising $1.5 million from a number of high-profile investors.

 

Nimble, founded in 2005 by Greg Ellis and Sean Teahan, was born out of frustration over a lack of customer-centric lending services.

 

The founders poured “every cent” they had into the start-up. This meant they had no money to live on, so they mowed lawns on the side for the first few years.

 

Now, the online company claims to have the most advanced credit assessment and fraud prevention platform in the country.

 

Using machine-learning algorithms to assess more than 1,000 data points, Nimble approves loan applications within an average of 11 seconds and generally pays within an hour.

 

Short-term loans of up to $600 are provided via the company’s website or over the phone. However, the company only approves those with an ability to repay their loan on time.

 

This works out to be around one in five applicants, although the approval ratio has the potential to increase as the algorithm continues to approve.

 

Nimble has now raised $1.5 million from investors including iSelect founder Damien Waller, iSelect director Les Web and former Wotif Group chief financial officer Sam Friend.

 

“Sam Friend became aware of Nimble via the Queensland start-up scene, and introduced them to Les and Damien,” Ellis told StartupSmart.

 

“They put Nimble through a very intensive due diligence in terms of the technology platform, the business plan as well as the ethical approach of the business.

 

“Damien… was impressed by Nimble’s approach to using big data, its commitment to ethical practices within an industry not necessarily renowned for that, the ability to scale and the fact Nimble already has a good track record.”

 

The funds will be used to support the ongoing development of Nimble’s technology platform and promote the service across Australia. It is the company’s first external investment round.

 

To date, Nimble has provided more than 250,000 loans, with more than half of those loans arranged via mobile only.

 

According to Ellis, the company’s aim is to disrupt an industry that is “long overdue for a shakeup”.

 

“Lots of us come up short every now and again, and when we do we should be able to get help responsibly and affordably,” Ellis says.

 

Nimble is so confident in its ability to approve only those who can repay their loans on time that they have built their business model on losing money if their borrowers don’t in fact do so.

 

“Big data makes it possible for us to analyse an application in seconds, identifying whether someone has a high likelihood to be able to repay a loan,” Ellis says.

 

“It has allowed us to build a business model around only lending to people who can afford it.

 

“[This business model] is the opposite of most lenders and credit card companies who, in some instances, appear to make their profits from a borrower being unable to repay.”

 

Nimble’s focus on online and mobile is another clear differentiator, says Ellis.

 

“The rapid growth to date has largely been word of mouth and we hope and believe that will continue and, with extra funding, we can obviously do a bit more to build awareness,” he says.

 

“We believe a transparent, honest and simple product offering will win.”

 

In addition to being a member of the Credit Ombudsman Service Limited, Nimble is an ASIC licensed entity subject to the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.