by Remy Noelle
August 8, 2019

Throughout the U.S., less than 1 percent of small businesses qualify for a traditional Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, leaving many without financing options. Banks view many small businesses as ineligible to receive loans or other financing due to riskiness, insufficient time in businesses, profitability restrictions or poor credit history. 

Forward Financing was created to help these underserved companies by providing them access to the capital they need to grow their businesses.

We met with three members of Forward Financing’s team to learn more about company culture and the collaborative philosophy that drives the team forward. 

 

Forward Financing
Photography by Amelia Ingraham
Forward Financing Office
Photography by Amelia Ingraham
forward financing barista
Photography by Amelia Ingraham

 

FOUNDED: 2012

EMPLOYEES: 208; 87 locally

WHAT THEY DO: Forward Financing provides fast and flexible working capital to small and medium-sized businesses across the country. By combining proprietary financial technology with a team of small business financing experts, they deliver same-day funding with the speed and simplicity business owners need to succeed and grow.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Boston

PERKS TO MENTION: Each month, all employees are entered into a raffle for tickets to Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox games. The outings don’t end there — bi-monthly, all employees are invited to participate in activities outside the office. Recent examples include escape rooms, a pasta-making class at the Boston Public Market and an '80s themed Harbor Boat Cruise.

 

Forward Financing team

Forward Financing employee portrait

 

Lizzie Lueder, Associate Engineer

As an associate software engineer, Lizzie is responsible for finding fixes to unblock critical issues and long-term solutions to resolve system bugs.

ENGINEERING ENDORPHINS: When she isn’t debugging company software, Lizzie enjoys teaching hot power vinyasa yoga and yoga sculpt classes.  

 

What are some new and exciting tech developments, and how do you keep team members engaged with their progress?

Our team members are very driven in general — it’s not hard at all to keep people engaged. One upcoming project that has everyone excited is the refactoring of some internal systems. Following a rapid period of growth and tech expansion, we are starting to review our existing tech stack to see what can be improved. It’s inspiring, considering this type of project could have been so easily overlooked as something that we already have, rather than how can we keep improving. 
 

Building a solid culture has been intentional here, and leadership cares and wants to invest in it.”


Teams tend to reflect culture powerfully — like in the way they solve problems,  communicate, celebrate, agree or disagree. What was a moment your team acted in a way that reflected this culture?

You can see how company culture affects our team in how we as a team deal with failure. Engineering is competitive, and we all make mistakes. Instead of receiving blame and shame, if you make a mistake, you are tasked with bringing donuts the following day for everyone and writing up a “post-mortem” to be shared. A post-mortem is a report on what happened, the outcome, how it was fixed, and how to prevent the mistake in the future. Doing this creates an environment where we are learning from and accepting our mistakes, and also feeling comfortable asking for help from other team members. 

 

How is Forward Financing’s company culture different than previous companies in which you've worked?

I have previously worked at a large corporate company and a very small startup. Here, everyone is focused on building culture, maintaining morale and interacting cross-departmentally in ways I did not experience at either of my previous jobs. We hold regular lunch-and-learns, department lunches, weekly happy hours, new hire lunches — countless opportunities for quality face time with the full team. Building a solid culture has been intentional here, and leadership cares and wants to invest in it. 

 

Forward Financing Team

Forward Financing Employee Portrait

 

Al Loebs, Underwriting Analyst

As an underwriting analyst, Al is responsible for reviewing small and medium-sized businesses seeking financing to determine their creditworthiness and pricing approvals for working capital financing.

CONTACT SPORT: Al comes from a family of hockey players and has played since his youth. He continues the tradition and appreciates the sport for its reliance on both competitive spirit and strategic communication between team members.

 

In your time with Forward Financing, what would you say has been the most meaningful and motivating aspect of the company’s culture?

The willingness to include everybody and create an open forum for people to discuss and collaborate truly is the backbone of the culture here. It’s the idea that it does not matter what department or level you are from, you have a voice, and we are all very closely connected in the grand scheme of things. This allows us to see problems and solutions from different perspectives and achieve greater accomplishments.
 

I can come to work every day and just be myself, and I really do believe that makes a huge difference in everyone’s willingness to help create and share ideas.”


Tell us about a small business you’ve helped, or how you’ve been a part of Forward Financing’s community initiatives.

One business that really stood out to me was a preschool that we worked with. The teacher requested funds for school supplies and additional capital to build a playground. The thought of being able to help a preschooler get the notebook they want or have a space to play outside is something that really hits deep on a personal level with me and is what makes being at Forward Financing so meaningful. Through our process, we were able to get them through some tough financial times and situations — making a direct impact on more than just the school itself. When they needed help quickly, Forward Financing was there.

 

How is Forward Financing’s company culture different than previous companies in which you've worked?

The difference in culture from my previous job is literally day and night. For the first four years out of college, I worked in a traditional corporate culture where, on most days, there were little personable connections or genuine interactions. Here, everyone is always collaborating and communicating cross-department, which just makes coming to work so much more enjoyable. I can come to work every day and just be myself, and I really do believe that makes a huge difference in everyone’s willingness to help create and share ideas. You are more likely to get more smiles walking through these doors than any other I have walked through (yes, even on Mondays). 

 

Forward Financing Team

Forward Financing Employee Portrait

 

Eric Ho, VP of Operations 

Eric leads Forward Financing’s operations and manages the processing, underwriting, payments and collections teams. He also maintains connections with merchants throughout the financing process to ensure their needs are met and that Forward Financing’s product continues to evolve.        

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Outside of work, Eric loves the creativity, patience and malleability that cooking requires. His favorite dish to craft is roasted chicken, for the myriad techniques and processes the same dish has across various cuisines.

 

In what ways does Forward Financing encourage employees to work “outside the box” and collaborate across projects with different team members?

I don’t think there is a box here. We have a very flat organization that works with different departments and seniority levels across the board to find solutions to the problems they are trying to solve. It’s a combination of collaboration and mutual respect that spans across the entire organization. There’s no hierarchy here, and I think that has created a family-feel not only in our department but also throughout the office. As we’ve grown, we’ve also provided employees the opportunity to grow across departments and try new opportunities to be in a new role and new department. 
 

By spending time with your team, talking to them and sharing ideas, it’s amazing to see diverse visions for the business and for the team.”


How are employees empowered to help shape or participate in the office culture?

We all do a great job of soliciting opinions and having open discussions — a great example is the redesign plan for our office space. We are trying to maximize office space, but we also want to make sure that we’re not negatively impacting the great culture we’ve built within it. Our leadership team wanted everyone’s input, with the understanding that the redesign would impact everyone in the company. We aimed to be very thoughtful to make sure we’re building an environment that will encourage collaboration, inclusion and motivation.  

 

How do you promote value for your team? How do you generate value?

It’s about caring about the people that you work for and that you work with — taking the time to sit with everyone on your team and not only listening to their opinions but listening to what is going on in their lives as well. It’s taking the time to talk to the people on the team to understand how they work best and get to know them as people and what they enjoy doing outside of work. As a manager, it’s important to have both team meetings and individual one-on-ones and really listen to each opinion. By spending time with your team, talking to them and sharing ideas, it’s amazing to see diverse visions for the business and for the team.

 

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