Houston couple Carolina and Alex struggled with getting pregnant. Like one in eight couples in the U.S. that deal with infertility, they learned that their best chance of starting a family would be through in vitro fertilization treatment. The news improved their spirits, until they saw the price tag.
The average cost for an IVF cycle is $12,400, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, an amount that was beyond their means. Carolina and Alex decided to look into affordable options to pay for the procedure, a process that led them to Prosper. After taking out a loan through Prosper, they were able to pay for the complex and costly procedure, as well as for the necessary medications and diet supplements. “As of now, we don’t know if we will have a baby, but we’d like to say, ‘Thank you, Prosper, for giving us hope,’” Alex says.
A recent study by Prosper Marketplace found that cost is by far the most significant concern for women undergoing infertility treatments, even outweighing the health or emotional aspects. In fact, nearly half of respondents have incurred more than $10,000 in debt, and in the majority of cases insurance covered less than 50 percent of the total cost of fertility treatments. With three and five year loans that are fixed term, fixed rate and competitively priced, Prosper offers many people access to a smart and affordable option for financing fertility treatments or other medical expenses.
Last year Cynthia Hickman wanted to open a cafe and a flower shop in the small town of Silverton in northwest Oregon. The town is famous for a dog named “Bobbie, the Wonder Dog” that reportedly walked 2,550 miles back to its home after being lost on a family car trip in Indiana in 1923. Silverton has a population of about 9,000, with romantic views of Silver Creek — a perfect place for Cynthia to create a community around good food and beauty.
In order to realize her dream and move forward with her business, Cynthia needed funding. She heard about Prosper from a friend on Facebook and decided to apply for a loan. Within a few days, Cynthia had the $7,500 she needed to open Main St. Bistro & Coffee and Branches and Bloom. Since opening, they are “quickly becoming the heart of this community,” she says. Customers, some of whom come by daily, say the employees and other regulars are like family.
In the cafe, visitors find a place to order hearty breakfasts, enjoy a warm cup of coffee or play chess. Thursdays at noon, members of church groups hold their weekly meetings there. With brick walls, couches and communal tables, the cafe has a warm, inviting atmosphere that’s comfortable and feels like home. The adjacent flower shop is filled with lush flowers and plants, sweet floral smells mingling with the aroma of coffee.
Cynthia is grateful that Prosper enabled her to fulfill her ambitious dream of simultaneously opening two businesses, and thankful to friends who helped her build and open them. “There’s no way I could do that [start two businesses] without the loan, says Cynthia. “And then the community came together to help me!”
A year and a half after opening, Cynthia has six employees and business is booming. For Cynthia and many small business owners, marketplace lending is an easy and quick way to get access to a personal loan to start and grow a business, and in Cynthia’s case, create a place where customers want to come to every day. Even Bobbie the Wonder Dog would approve.
In early 2013, when my partners, Steve and Ron, and I joined Prosper Marketplace, this company and this industry were in a vastly different place. Prosper Marketplace had just closed out 2012 with $150 million in loans originated through the platform, 85 employees, and frankly, a future that was very much in question. At the time, we had no expectation that Prosper would reach the kind of loan volume it is doing today. We just knew that Prosper could help people get out from burdensome high-rate debt and be a better option for paying for large-ticket purchases. We set to work building, hiring and fixing things here, with the goal of bringing in the best people and scaling the business
Back in the second quarter of 2013 (our first full quarter at the company) Prosper originated $72 million in total loans through the platform. Fast-forward two years, and we just closed out our largest quarter ever — $912 million in loans originations through the platform, a staggering increase of 1166% in two years. This brings us to another milestone – today, we crossed more than $4 billion in loans on the platform since launching in 2006. This growth has not come at the expense of quality – we continue to deliver excellent loan performance and the quality of our loans is stronger than ever.
As we look toward the second half of the year we see that Prosper is currently on track to double the $1.6 billion in loans originated through the platform in 2014, which in itself was a record (and a 350% increase from 2013). These numbers underscore the continued growth and momentum of marketplace lending as it moves toward mainstream awareness. More and more people are realizing that marketplaces and online lending are a better way to borrow and invest. And the industry is noticing as well. So far this year, Prosper Marketplace has been named one of Forbes Magazine’s Most Promising Companies of 2015, and AlwaysOn named Prosper Marketplace the OnFinance Company of the Year, as well as one of their Global 250 Top Private Companies.
Our focus remains on bringing consumer-friendly personal loans to more people, and making changes to improve the experience for both its borrowers and investors. This includes launching a responsive website that functions across desktop and mobile devices, and making continued improvements to the verification process so it is a fast and streamlined experience. We are seeing more people come back for their second loan through Prosper, as well as a wider variety of use cases beyond debt consolidation, such as large purchases, medical expenses, and home improvement projects.
Prosper is also making improvements for its retail investors, which remain a core part of the Prosper investor community. In April Prosper introduced an update that gives retail investors better visibility into pending orders and makes it easier for them to access data. In the coming months there will also be more data analytics and account management tools to improve investors’ experience using the platform. As Prosper works to broaden access for retail investors, we also saw the launch of the first publicly traded fund through River North, a significant move toward broadening retail access to marketplace loans.
To keep up with all of this growth, Prosper Marketplace continues to grow its team in all of its locations. We now have more than 457 employees with offices in San Francisco (recently named one of the coolest offices in the Bay Area by the SF Business Times), Salt Lake City (where we just opened a new office), and Phoenix (where we now have 130 people focused on customer service and verification). This year alone, we have doubled the size of our engineering team and we’re still hiring across all functions. If you are interested in what we are building, check out the jobs section of our website.
We are proud to have pioneered the online lending market and to operate one of the largest platforms in the world today, with much more growth in store. We continue to be inspired our customer stories, and believe in our mission to help people achieve financial well being. Thank you to the entire community, from all of us here.
When blow dry bars started popping up across the country recently, Jennifer Johnson saw a new opportunity and a way to refresh her 17-year hairdressing career. She decided to add a mobile service to her current salon, Pro Do Blow Dry Bar, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mobile blow dry bars bring the hair salon experience to customers and are particularly popular for events such as birthday parties and weddings. “I knew with everybody craving convenience these days it would take blow dry bars to the next level,” Jennifer says.
Jennifer wanted to take her business on the road, but was just shy of the capital she needed for this business expansion. She visited her local bank and presented a “bulletproof” application and business plan as part of her loan request, but was rejected, much to her surprise. She didn’t give up, though. She explored other financing options and came across Prosper. She applied for a loan online through Prosper to launch her mobile business, was quickly approved and had her money in a few days.
With the loan, Jennifer bought a 40-foot bus, which she named “Audrey,” and renovated it. She decked it out into a salon on wheels with three stations for hair, complete with mirrors and shampoo sinks, a makeup station, posh wallpaper and lighting. Then she took Audrey on the road. She and her team traveled 1,638 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Nashville, Tennessee, and back, providing everyone from students and stay-at-home moms to busy executives with mobile blowouts, hairstyling and makeup along the way. Jennifer is thankful she was able to expand her business to be mobile with the help of marketplace lending.
When Sarah Thomas, a single mother, wanted to provide her young son with a better life, she decided to pursue a Master’s in nursing. She had high hopes for their future, but she found herself instead in the American Dream gone wrong. “I pursued an education and ended up with a ton of financial debt,” says Sarah.
That’s when Sarah turned to the Prosper community to help her manage the financial burden. With a loan through Prosper, Sarah was able to consolidate her high-interest debt and take control of her finances. According to Sarah, taking out a loan through Prosper was “the easiest most streamlined process I have ever had.” Now, instead of focusing on paying off debt, Sarah is enjoying a successful career as a nurse practitioner, having graduated with Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in nursing.
Sarah also found personal happiness through her new career. She met her husband at the hospital where she works and he adopted her now 11-year-old son. Now, Sarah and her husband are thinking about the next big steps in their lives. They want to buy a new home, expand their family and enjoy life. While they are still dealing with a financial burden, according to Sarah, a loan through Prosper gives them an “attainable way to pay off debt” so they can focus on pursing new dreams and goals.
Notice: Blogs and other materials posted on or linked from this page that use the name "Prosper" generally use that name to refer to Prosper Marketplace, Inc. if published before January 31, 2013 and to refer to Prosper Funding LLC if published on or after February 1, 2013.
As of February 1, 2013, the Prosper marketplace was transferred by Prosper Marketplace, Inc. to Prosper Funding LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Prosper Marketplace, Inc. From and after February 1, 2013 Prosper Funding LLC is the sole obligator of Notes offered and secured by loans made through the Prosper marketplace, including Notes originally issues by Prosper Marketplace, Inc. prior to such transfer. Prosper Marketplace Inc. contiinues to provide services to Prosper Funding LLC relating to loan and Note servicing, and may interact with borrowers and investors in relation thereto as agent of Prosper Funding, LLC. Except where otherwise noted, throughout this website "Prosper" refers to Prosper Funding LLC including acting directly or through its agents.
All personal loans are made by WebBank, a Utah-chartered Industrial Bank. All Prosper personal loans are unsecured, fully amortizing personal loans.
Notes offered by Prospectus. Notes investors receive are dependent for payment on personal loans to borrowers. Not FDIC-insured; Investments may lose value; No Prosper or bank guarantee. Prosper does not verify all information provided by borrowers in listings. Investors should review the prospectus before investing.