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.
Prosper Marketplace just closed out our first quarter and we’re very pleased to report that it was our strongest yet. In the first quarter of 2015, Prosper facilitated a record $595 million in loans through the platform, up 200% from the first quarter a year ago. We attribute this to the increasing awareness of Prosper combined with the rapid growth across the entire consumer marketplace lending industry. On the borrower side, we continue to see more people turn to us for access to three types of personal loans (debt consolidation, large purchases and business loans based on personal credit). They are attracted by the competitive rates and convenience over traditional lending. We also continue to speak with a variety of investors who want access to this asset class.
As we plan for more growth this year and beyond, our focus remains on building a business for the long term. This means focusing on quality underwriting, people and a scalable technology infrastructure. I often say that underwriting is the most important thing we do here at Prosper, and that continues to be true. Our investors have come to rely on the quality and predictability of our platform. We’re also actively working on building out our verification and customer service teams (among other parts of the business) so that we can deliver the best customer service experience in the industry.
On the borrower side, more and more Americans are turning to marketplace lending to finance their home improvement projects, elective medical procedures, special occasions (such as weddings and vacations), and to start small businesses. People are taking out personal loans not just to get their finances in order, but to make their lives happier and less stressful. One example is Cheri of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She’s a single mom who adopted two children from Haiti. After an expensive four-year adoption process, she struggled financially. With a loan through Prosper, Cheri was able to get back on track.
To help reach new types of borrowers, Prosper Marketplace announced that it acquired American Healthcare Lending in February, now Prosper Healthcare Lending. This incredible group of people, who are now Prosper Marketplace employees, are bringing awareness of marketplace lending as a consumer-friendly financing option for medical procedures. Prosper Marketplace also partnered with a consortium of community banks through Western Independent Bankers to enable them to offer customers access to affordable consumer loans.
We are continuing to build the Prosper team and are always looking for great people. We currently have more than 30 job openings listed on our site, so if you are interested in being a part of what we are building, apply or tell a friend. We have almost 400 employees between San Francisco, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, and will continue to grow well beyond that.
We’re grateful to our loyal borrower members, investors and partners and look forward working with all of you in the future.
In February of 2015, Prosper Marketplace announced that we had acquired our first company – American Healthcare Lending (now Prosper Healthcare Lending). Since that time, we’ve learned a lot about the healthcare industry and the opportunity to bring a consumer-friendly personal loan product to people who need to finance medical procedures. As awareness of marketplace lending has grown, we’ve also heard inspiring stories from people who have used a loan through Prosper* to finance medical procedures that were either not covered by insurance or were out of reach due to high deductibles. This includes Scott, who took out a loan through Prosper to fund bariatric surgery that saved his life. He shared his emotional story with us in this video.
The stories of how our customers used a loan through Prosper to help them achieve their goals are inspiring, and we wanted to learn more about the economics of elective procedures, as well as the hurdles people are facing. We decided to start with one procedure that is becoming more commonplace than ever before: fertility treatments. More than 7.4 million women in the U.S. have had them, with 175,000 procedures in 2013 alone at an average cost of $12,400 per cycle.
Working with Market Cube, we commissioned a survey to find out more about the assisted reproduction process and what barriers women face, including how they pay for treatments and what the financial impact is given that only 15 states require coverage for infertility treatments. What we found was compelling, and underscored our belief that marketplace lending can make a positive impact on people looking to finance these types of procedures.
First and foremost, the survey told us that cost was by far the biggest cause of concern for woman considering fertility treatment. In fact, financial impact outweighed the health or emotional concerns for women when seeking treatment. Furthermore, the survey found that 84% of women have concerns about how they can finance their fertility treatment, and one-third had actually delayed treatment for financial reasons.
When it comes to insurance coverage, fewer than half of the respondents relied on health insurance to pay for treatments, and less than 30 percent used insurance as the primary payment method.
The survey also gave us insights into the types of financial burden that can come with fertility. According to the survey, more than 70 percent incurred some degree of debt from fertility treatments and nearly half of those incurred more than $10,000 in debt. Additionally, nearly 30 percent used credit cards, with close to half of those using credit cards as the primary payment method
Overwhelmingly, the survey showed us that when it comes to starting the process of fertility treatments, cost is by far the thing that concerns patients the most. We also learned that today, only 2.3 percent of those surveyed had used peer-to-peer lending as a payment method, bringing us to the conclusion that more awareness is needed about how a marketplace loan can offer an affordable way to manage the costs associated with this and other important medical procedures.
When insurance isn’t an option, loans through marketplace lenders can offer a better way to borrow money than racking up credit card bills. The process is fast and convenient, freeing up time to focus on family building instead of finances.
For a more detailed overview of the report’s findings, click here.
*All loans through Prosper are made by FDIC Member Banks.
For 16 years, Danny Clark has worked as a customer service engineer for a telecommunications company in Indianapolis, but for years he also harbored another secret desire: to become a race car driver. Unless you’re backed by a giant company though, that can quickly become a prohibitively expensive hobby. He tried to take out a loan three years ago to make his dream come true, but local banks all turned him away. So, he turned to marketplace lending.
Today, Danny drives his outlaw Micro Sprint, an open-wheel racing car with a 600cc motorcycle motor, in 20 to 25 races per year in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee and Oklahoma in his spare time. Here, Danny shares how a five-year loan through Prosper helped him pursue his lifelong passion:
How did you learn about Prosper?
The local banks didn’t want to help me out. I was going to fund some of it myself and get a personal loan for the rest of it, but the local banks weren’t an option. That’s when I started asking around about other loan options, and a family member told me about peer-to-peer lending and specifically, Prosper. It sounded like just the thing I was looking for.
How has Prosper helped you fund your car racing hobby?
In the first year of racing, the initial investment for a car, trailer, tools and other things costs a fair amount of money — about $30,000 for me. After the initial investment, the ongoing cost isn’t as bad as long as you don’t tear up your equipment. The second year, expenses were about half of what they were the first year, about $15,000 give or take. This year, I’m already at $6,000. As long as I stay in the same car, don’t wreck my equipment and keep recurring costs low — I had one major wreck last year — I can take care of the costs myself and work on paying off my loan.
What’s one of the biggest benefits of marketplace lending?
With the loan through Prosper, I can still race, pay the recurring costs on my own, make my normal payments and save in my 401K. Some people may have a dream car or dream house. You can probably get a loan from the local bank for those things. For buying a sprint car, you can’t just go through the classic loan options. Prosper allows you to take care of that initial investment, turn it into a payment plan and continue to pay your bills. It was such a simple, easy process from the response via email to checking on loan status online.
What tips would you give others with similarly expensive hobbies?
I believe it’s good to pay for things with cash and have the money upfront. I’ve done that for many years and still have a retirement account. But racing cars is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. The process to fill out the Prosper application was really simple and quick. It’s a lifestyle decision in my mind. If there are other hobbies you want to do, Prosper gives you the ability to do that and be reasonable about it because traditional banks typically have higher interest rates than those you can get through Prosper.
*Loans through Prosper are made by WebBank, a Utah-chartered industrial bank, member FDIC. Annual Percentage Rate depends on credit history, income, and other factors.
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.