When an entrepreneur wants to start a business, his first instinct is to go talk to his banker. That's natural. When we need money, we go to a bank.
Unfortunately, many bankers reluctantly have to turn these new startup loans down. Unless the entrepreneur has a house that is owned free and clear or other significant assets to serve as collateral, he or she won't meet all the lending requirements of a bank.
I say reluctantly, because the banking business is all about relationships. Bankers like to build relationships with growing companies. They would much rather be saying “yes” to a young company that they think will succeed in the future. Instead, they often end up saying, “I'd like to help you, but …”
The GrowOK Fund, managed by i2E, provides Oklahoma bankers a relationship-saving alternative to “I'd like to help you, but …” GrowOK targets established companies that have cash flow and less than 250 employees. It's a potential financing tool that can provide capital to companies that don't yet meet a bank's lending criteria.
There is considerable flexibility in how the funds can be used, including working capital, market or product expansion, equipment purchase and other activities related to the growth of the business.
GrowOK brings much more than money to the company. We will help the company put together and fine-tune its product and its business plan. We work with entrepreneurs to figure out their staffing needs and marketing plan. We help create a continuum of financing that matches critical milestones of success.
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Among affluent U.S. customers, a promoter (a loyal, enthusiastic customer) is worth $9,500 more than a detractor over the tenure of his or her relationship with a bank.