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.
Today we are very excited to announce we have officially surpassed $3 billion in personal loans issued through the Prosper platform since inception. In April 2014, we announced that we crossed the $1 billion mark. It took us eight years to reach that milestone and it was huge achievement for our company. Just six months later, in October 2014, we announced that we crossed $2 billion in loans. And now, just five months after that, we’ve surpassed $3 billion. In addition, we closed out a record first quarter with $595 million in loans through the platform in the first quarter of 2015. Since 2006 we have helped hundreds of thousands of people get one step closer to achieving their financial goals.
We could not have achieved this success without the Prosper community. We’re grateful to borrowers, investors and partners that have worked with us over the years. At Prosper, our customers’ stories inspire us, and so this week, we want to highlight some of these great stories on our Facebook page and Twitter feed. Please visit us on social to read about how people have used a Prosper loan for everything from debt consolidation to paying for medical expenses to home improvement and special occasions. We also want to hear from you. We hope you’ll continue to share your stories through a tweet or comment on our Facebook page using the hashtag #HowIProsper.
As we build our business, we continue to look for new partnerships and opportunities to bring our product to more people. To this end, Prosper made two significant announcements so far in 2015:
In February Prosper Marketplace announced its first acquisition of American Healthcare Lending. The addition of what is now Prosper Healthcare Lending gives us the opportunity to bring a consumer-friendly option for financing elective medical procedures to an industry that has been characterized by high rates and a lack of options.
Prosper Marketplace also announced its first partnership with a consortium of community banks through Western Independent Bankers, giving more than 160 independent and community banks in 13 western states in the U.S. unprecedented access to affordable consumer loans through the Prosper platform.
We are also proud of the awards and recognition we have received this year. Prosper was recently named one of Forbes’ “Most Promising Companies in America” in 2015 and is part of the Always On 2015 OnFinance Top 100, an award recognizing the most promising private companies in business, personal finance and digital currencies. For the past three years Prosper has been recognized as one of the fastest growing private companies in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times.
Thank you to all of our customers and partners for your continued support. Every day we are working hard to exceed your expectations of what a financial company can be.
Kevin Johannes, a seventh degree black belt and owner of TASK Karate Academy, borrows through Prosper Loans because it offers him the best interest rates. But, that’s not the sole purpose of his loans.
As the owner of a karate and family fitness center in Wixom, Michigan, Johannes took out a loan to buy new exercise equipment for the preschool and kindergarten programs. With new foam machines and trampolines, preschoolers can grow strong and stay active, and kindergarteners develop tactical skills by practicing rolls on new floor mats and kicks with target aids.
The Dojo, or training hall, is fully matted for safety and mirrors help students develop proper form. Students use heavy bags, focus mitts and kick target aids to improve their technique and learn proper contact. Because the academy has updated equipment, students receive more advanced training and are winning more competitions, including the World Karate & Kickboxing Commission World Championships. Johannes is thankful to the Prosper community for helping him teach young kids karate skills and self discipline with updated equipment — and we’re thankful to him for training a new generation of karate kids!
We’re excited to announce today a partnership with Western Independent Bankers — a consortium of small community banks — that will give more banks the opportunity to offer credit to their customers, and more consumers access to affordable loans.
Banks are under increasing pressure to deliver attractive interest rates for all consumers, and smaller banks just can’t compete with the big institutions in offering credit, primarily because of overhead and other operating costs. At Prosper Marketplace, we believe that independent and community banks are essential to the future of the American economy, and this partnership gives them the ability to broaden their product offerings and vie for a piece of the credit market.
This exclusive WIB Endorsed Program partnership with Western Independent Bankers (WIB) opens the consumer credit doors to more than 160 independent and community banks in 13 states in the U.S. WIB provides community banks with networking opportunities, educational programs and access to new products and services. Not only does the partnership allow consortium banks to offer access to unsecured loans to customers, but it educates consumers about alternative lending as a smarter, lower cost option for borrowing money.
Community banks comprise 96.8 percent of all banks in the U.S., amounting to nearly 7,000 community banks with more than 50,000 locations. They’re the primary source of lending for small businesses and farms. Community banks focus on providing high-quality service for local families and business, much like we do for our borrowers and investors. That’s just one area that we see eye to eye.
Smaller banks are always looking for new ways to generate revenue while offering low interest rates. In fact, interest rate pressures are one of the top barriers community banks face for significant growth. We’re happy to welcome WIB into our community to provide more loans with attractive interest rates to a wider group of consumers.
We’ve just wrapped up 2014 and what a year it has been for everyone in our industry. First and foremost we want to say thank you to our customers, partners and investors. We could not have done it without you.
One of the big highlights of 2014 was our $2 Billion Strong Photo and Video Contests. We heard amazing stories from every corner of the country that reminded us of why we do what we do everyday. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the gallery, the videos and photos are still available on our Facebook page. In addition to the winners, here are a few more of my favorite videos:
In December, we reached $205 million in loan originations through the Prosper platform – our largest month ever and a great finale to the year. In total in 2014, there was $1.6 billion in loan originations on the Prosper platform and more than 123,000 people have turned to the platform for loans for everything from home improvement to debt consolidation to medical procedures as highlighted in the videos and photos above. We’re thrilled by the opportunity and humbled by the momentum and potential of our company and our industry. You may wonder why we are seeing such uptick and growth. There are a number of reasons:
Awareness — Word is getting out that people have alternatives to credit cards and traditional bank loans to get access to credit. As a result, lending marketplaces are becoming mainstream, much like ridesharing and other innovative online marketplaces are becoming more popular.
Quality — At Prosper we have a proprietary formula for assessing the risk of our borrowers with verification and validation of a host of criteria. Our first time borrowers fall within the prime or super-prime range, with an average FICO score between 700 and 710. This means investors can have confidence in the system, and everyone benefits. On average, our investors earned about 7 percent in 2014.
Convenience — In addition to low rates, one of the biggest benefits for borrowers is the ease and speed with which they can get loans online: 4-5 days rather than the 10 days or more it could take getting a traditional bank loan. Our customers also love the flexibility of online borrowing; we work around your schedule.
Partners — Prosper works with a number of partners, which include credit education sites, airlines and mortgage originators that help us get the word out about the benefits of working with Prosper. We continue to look for new companies that we can partner with to help our mutual customers.
Repeat visitors — After experiencing Prosper, many of our customers have started turning to us again for help through the various moments in their lives when they need financial support – medical bills, wedding expenses, travel costs or a second-car.
We’re building a strong community, with quality borrowers, confident investors and a growing numbers of partners. And we’re expanding our company and investing in people to meet the demand for services. Prosper Marketplace is up to 240 employees, with a thriving new office in Phoenix and new headquarters in San Francisco. And we’re going to keep growing — Prosper Marketplace is looking to add significantly more people to its team in the coming year.
But one thing that remains constant is our focus on the community we’ve built through our marketplace. So you’ll see new services and features coming in 2015 that are designed to enhance the borrowing and lending experiences even more – area like mobile access, and even faster verification and validation.
It’s been a fantastic journey so far, and we’re grateful to our customers, partners and investors that have joined us. We feel this is only the beginning, so stay tuned for more in 2015.
CEO, Prosper Marketplace
 Average FICO score for first-time borrowers who obtained loans in 2014
 Average investor return of about 7% is based on estimated return of loans originated in 2014
 Average time Prosper borrowers obtain loan based on loan originations in 2014
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.