As the old adage goes, it takes money to make money. Without proper resources, businesses can’t grow. For too many small and midsize businesses that don’t qualify for traditional loans, this creates a huge problem. When these companies don’t have access to cash, they find themselves faced with few choices: resorting to high-cost lenders, or not pursuing growth opportunities — whether that’s purchasing necessary equipment, adding staff, or investing in marketing and infrastructure. Dealstruck was founded to help small businesses secure the right financing to drive healthy growth. Combining business loans with lines of credit and other loan products, this 50-person, San Diego-based startup has lent more than $100 million since its founding in 2013. Like many of the customers it serves, Dealstruck itself is a small but fast-growing business, facing the challenge of finding and winning new customers while managing its own expansion. “Our primary focus right now is finding new customers,” said Candace Klein, chief strategy officer. But not so long ago, the company shifted some of that focus to build its own back-office systems. “We are using Salesforce today, but thought we could do it ourselves at the beginning,” said CTO Russell McLoughlin. While at first it seemed feasible to handle loan management and customer relationships using an array of Web applications, McLoughlin and CEO Ethan Senturia soon realised that to effectively support a sales team, they’d need more functionality. “As we brought on more people to sell and underwrite, I came to realise that every person needs a view into the data,” McLoughlin said. “They need reporting, dashboards, and the ability to go in and change things.”
A trusted industry veteran then gave the founders some advice. As Senturia told the story, an early angel investor in Dealstruck told him and McLoughlin, “You know, you guys need to be on Salesforce. Don’t try to build all this yourself.” They took his advice and started building on Salesforce while the company was in its infancy. Even in those early days, the flexibility and scalability of Salesforce was a big selling point for company leaders. “We knew the system could grow as we grew,” Klein said. Today, Dealstruck manages everything on Salesforce — from customer acquisition to underwriting. The team uses Pardot to capture leads from website landing pages and then nurture them via targeted email campaigns. From there, Dealstruck’s sales team uses an AppExchange app from InsideSales.com to qualify leads and track opportunities. Klein said that tracking conversion rates and lost opportunities is a key metric for the company that drives constant “tweaking and tinkering” with the sales process. Once a loan has been made, the team employs Service Cloud and Cloud Lending, an AppExchange loan management system, to create and track service cases, including missing loan payments. Dealstruck also built out an online community for its brokers using Community Cloud. Brokers can log in to the community to track deals in the pipeline and communicate with Dealstruck staff. Dealstruck grew from two co-founders to 33 employees in just over a year, and hired employee number 50 in year two. Salesforce has grown with them, saving the startup time and money while also taking major headaches like data security off of the co-founders’ plates. “Our whole Salesforce contract is less than what we would pay one engineer for one year,” Senturia said. “And if we had built it ourselves, we would still be building it.” And that angel investor who told Senturia and McLoughlin they needed to be on Salesforce? Now he’s Dealstruck’s chairman of the board.