Emily Doxford is VP of Marketing and an expert in business funding with Loanmantra.com.
Even though the United States is the global leader in growth for women-owned businesses, with 12.3 million female-owned businesses generating $1.8 trillion per year, they only receive 2.2% of venture capital funding.
She’s here to talk to us today about trends for female business ownership, trends and how underserved populations, like women, can get better access to funding.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Stone Payton: Welcome to the High Velocity Radio show where we celebrate top performers producing better results in less time. Stone Payton here with you this afternoon. You guys are in for a real treat. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Loan Mantra, Ms. Emily Doxford. How are you?
Emily Doxford: Hi Stone. Thank you so much for having me. I’m doing well.
Stone Payton: Well, it is absolutely my pleasure. I’ve really been looking forward to this conversation. I’ve got a ton of questions. I know we’re not going to get to them all, but I’m thinking a good place to start would be if you could articulate for me and our listening audience. Mission. Purpose. What are you and your team really out there trying to do for folks?
Emily Doxford: Absolutely. So Loan Mantra is a minority owned business. We are a financial technology platform. We are a financial advisory service and we again are minority owned. And we serve diverse SMEs, small and medium business owners all over the United States who are doing any number of incredible things. So we really understand the many, many challenges that underserved businesses face. And that’s that’s at the heart of what we do and what we want to do. Our goal is really to democratize the the lending process. I personally come from a line of of of business owners, of women who are championing small business, championing Main Street, maybe through policy making. So it’s also something that’s dear to me personally as well.
Stone Payton: What a great way to frame it, democratizing the whole the process. So I got to know the full back story, though. How does one find themselves in this kind of role, trying to serve constituents in this type of arena? My my instincts are probably wasn’t just a straight path.
Emily Doxford: I’m laughing a little bit stoned because it was the most circuitous path ever. When it comes when it comes to me, I am actually I have a graduate degree in American literature, of course. So. Right. So one would immediately think finance or financial technology. That being said, I while I was in graduate school, started working with with the business school, particularly with their financial professors, and met a wonderful network of of entrepreneurs doing incredible things. And I think feel again really galvanized by the small business community and entrepreneurs, particularly female entrepreneurs who are out there doing incredible things for their community. So that’s that was an important pivot for me. Yeah. And and and get to work with an incredible, an incredible company who takes their mission very seriously.
Stone Payton: I mean, I can hear it in your voice. I can see it in your eyes. It has to be incredibly rewarding work. Now that you’ve been at it a while, what do you what do you like the most? What’s the most fun about it for you?
Emily Doxford: Well, I think it’s interacting with with business owners. Right. It’s it is knowing that these are these are individuals who are really good at what they do. They may be incredible artisans. They may be incredible bakers. They may run the finest transportation company in Atlanta, whatever the case may be. They are building their communities and doing it really, really well. And for whatever reason, we’ve just found that their greatest challenges are accessing capital and understanding financial jargon. So if we can break down those silos, it’s a it’s an important work that we’re doing as well.
Speaker4: Well, I.
Stone Payton: Do want to dive into this whole idea of access. You use the term underserved a couple of times early in the conversation. I guess I surprise is not accurate. I’m disappointed. I would say that we still have a group that is served in a group or multiple groups that are underserved and apparently female is one of those labels. Can you say more about that? I mean, that’s still a problem even in this day and age, huh?
Emily Doxford: A 100%. And to your point, yes, it is. It’s disappointing. We should I should say that that the US is the global leader for growth in women owned businesses. So we’re doing that really, really well. And in fact, at some point, although I believe the pandemic is probably changed this statistic a little bit, 1800 new women owned businesses are starting every day. So there’s there’s the really exciting kernel of information. On the flip side and to your question, stone about underserved communities, um, women, do we we see evidence of, of a funding gap, right. Um, in a recent year, venture capitalists invested something like 130 billion in US startups and women got a tiny fraction of that pie. It was 2.2%. A majority of women, 63%, 62%. Actually, I believe it is report some sort of gender bias when it comes to taking out a loan. So it’s it can be it can be a frustrating process for a woman owned business. And then here’s here’s the real rub. If they do receive a loan, they are generally more likely to pay higher rates than male borrowers and generally receive one third less in a loan package than their male counterparts. So there’s there’s work to be done.
Stone Payton: Yeah, well, I too have gender bias, but mine swings the other way. I would rather candidly work with women. My mom was a very strong woman in so many ways. My wife is an incredibly accomplished female in her arena. I find women more comfortable in their own skin. I find them better with money. I find them more coachable, I find them more approachable. I find them that better at cultivating and strengthening relationships. So if everybody died and put me in charge, I’d be alone. I’d be loaning money to them faster.
Emily Doxford: I love it. Stone Let’s let’s put you in charge. There we go.
Stone Payton: So let’s talk about the work a little bit. Um, so and I want to talk about how you find them and how they find you, but we’ll circle back to that. So you begin helping, helping these, these people. Like what? Especially in the early stages of the work. What are you sitting down with them and learning about their business? You’re educating them. Walk us through some of the kind of the nitty gritty of the work with them.
Emily Doxford: Or so. At the heart of it, we’re a financial technology platform, so we have more than 80 lenders on our platform, and we care a lot about helping the borrower, a borrower find the right financial partner. Right. There’s there’s something about that fit about that community that you care a lot about who your accountant is. You care a lot about who your graphic designer is. It’s no different with your financial partner. So that’s at the end of the day, that’s an important part of what we do is providing people a safe, secure, transparent platform in which they can they can gain this access. And we’re also we do a lot of financial advisory work. And that’s that’s where this this really interesting. And again, the community building becomes a little more personal. We learn more about the borrower and and and get to potentially help them in building a business plan or learning more about about their their dreams and how we can help fund their dreams.
Stone Payton: I’m sure there are so many there would be for me if I were entering this process as a as a client. So many unknowns, but I suspect there probably are some preconceived notions, some myths, some things that that maybe your newer clients walk in believing or thinking that just that’s just not the way it is. Do you see some of the same things like that over and over that you have to sort of unpack and help them really understand the way it really works?
Emily Doxford: Yeah, that’s a that’s an interesting question. I think we all have this idea of what it’s like to to get a loan or what it’s like to start a business. And probably some of that is really true. It can be challenging and complicated, and some of that is completely not true. You know, I, I also think that as well, I’m, I’m starting to get older but younger generations than I and and a Gen Z, a Gen Z borrower. So this this new generation of entrepreneurs, they don’t necessarily have the same relationship with a banker right that that my parents did. And there are a lot more comfortable getting financing online. So it’s it’s a whole new way to think about access to capital and what what that looks like and how do you get a loan. It’s not necessarily sitting down with with your parent’s banker in a buttoned up environment, filling out a paper form after paper form. That being said, hopefully some of the personal still remains. And you can call someone up when you have a question or need advice when the process feels overly complicated. And for for me for for us for loan mantra, it’s it’s bridging that gap.
Stone Payton: It sounds like you’ve cracked the code or struck the balance between ease of access technology that can really work for you. But this is the antithesis of a transactional business. It sounds like your work is very grounded in relationship, isn’t it?
Emily Doxford: I. It is. It is. And I think that that is something that can shouldn’t surprise me. But, you know, money is a personal thing and our businesses are a personal thing. And so should your financial. Your financial advisor where you go to get funding should be something that you care a lot about and should be a very it should be a vetted process.
Stone Payton: Well, and I got to believe and maybe not everybody’s like me, but I bet there’s a critical mass of people who are like me. I just find the whole idea of the whole process of just trying to begin to think about borrowing money or going through one of those processes where you qualify to get larger contracts. It just it looks like this big hairy bear, you know, very intimidating. And and it sounds like maybe you help us break down those walls a little bit and, you know, get the confidence to just take the steps and follow the process.
Emily Doxford: Well, I. I hope so, Stone. I hope so. That that’s the goal.
Stone Payton: I think I’m right about that. Right there. There is like this is one way to help is is to help them borrow money. But there’s there’s a path probably for anybody but certainly for some underserved constituencies to document their ability to fulfill the requirements. And then they can get access to some pretty large pieces of business. Right.
Emily Doxford: Yeah. So I think if I’m understanding that question, it’s are there is there funding or programs available for underserved communities or underserved borrowers?
Stone Payton: And the reason I’m asking is we have a client, but it’s not my personal client. And I think they have this whole certification process to to be a woman owned business. And I think that opens up a it’s not a you know, it’s not a fill out the application and get a bunch of money or get a bunch of business. But it does it does, you know, let people at least get throw their hat in the ring on some other. Yeah.
Emily Doxford: Oh no. Perfectly said. You said it. Yes, you can you can certify through the SBA, the Small Business Administration, to be either a Wasp, a woman owned business or a or a minority owned business and mob. And both of those allow you to bid on government contracted an additional market. So last year that was an additional 5% of of the job the women owned business marketplace which is it’s it’s substantial right. Yeah. It’s a it’s a great step and a great way forward.
Stone Payton: So in your work, I’m always curious. I came from the training consulting world and I sort of gravitated to the sales and marketing side of things. So I’m always trying to look at things from a sales and marketing vantage point. How does the whole sales and marketing thing work for a firm like yours? Do you have to get out and shake the trees, or are people coming to you or a little bit of both? How does that work for a firm like yours?
Emily Doxford: It’s a great question. It is a little bit of both. We have we have an incredible founder who has enjoyed a loyal client base for many years and deservedly so. Right. There’s there’s equity built up there. There’s trust and there’s an NPS score, a net promoter score. Right. That comes from just building valuable relationships and on on his part, on our founders part and on loan mantras part just doing what we say we’re going to do. That being said, as you scale, I think there’s always a little bit of this. You you have to go shake the trees, I think was.
Emily Doxford: A phrase that was used and getting additional exposure. It’s a it’s a noisy marketplace. And unfortunately, ours can be filled with predatory lenders and. And capital that I would not want any small business borrower to to enter certain terms. So there’s a little bit of that. And and it’s it’s I think I said at the beginning, you know, one of the major challenges facing any borrower is learning some of the jargon in any industry. There’s a there’s a lot of jargon and a bit of a bit of my job is is helping to educate on both sides what everyone’s saying and, and making making making terms feel a little more a little more clear for either a borrower or a financial institution or a vendor who who may be working to to help with a with a borrower as well.
Stone Payton: Well, it’s starting to come into focus for me right now. You have this whole other group that you’re serving you because you’re not the lender in this equation, right? You’re bringing the parties together, so you’re educating. Wow, there must be so much education relationship building because you’re you’re in the middle helping both groups.
Emily Doxford: Right?
Stone Payton: Sounds fun, but it sounds challenging.
Emily Doxford: It is both. It is both, my friend.
Stone Payton: So it sounds like there’s a lot of ground to be covered yet. Plenty. Plenty to do. Do you feel like we are trending in the right direction or are we? We’re making progress, but but things are looking a little better as we go in most pockets of this. Yes.
Emily Doxford: Yeah. As as it relates to an underserved borrower. Yes.
Stone Payton: Yes.
Emily Doxford: Yeah, I. I hope so. I remain optimistic. I think that, you know, my my personal ethos when I work with a when I work with a borrower, particularly an underserved borrower, is to tell them to work with partners that they’ve vetted, that they feel strongly about their missions. If they’re working with a partner who gives underrepresented constituents, they’re giving women a minorities of voice at the table. I think that there’s a better a better chance that there will be empathy for the borrower, for maybe the woman owned or the women business owner themselves. So that’s to that end, I, I am hopeful. I am optimistic that we are trending in in the right direction and that we that there’s an availability of of resources for for female entrepreneurs.
Stone Payton: And more and more lenders apparently are recognizing I mean, this is not altruism. This is I mean this is good business to to to loan to to lend money to these people, particularly if those relationships are brokered or facilitated by by by someone like you guys who can kind of grease the skids and and maybe remove some of the friction and shrink the timeline for them. Right. So so so that’s on the on the increase a little bit. Well, at least that’s encouraging. So over time, maybe we can get more private equity, we can get more lenders to the point where, you know, it’s a little more routine and maybe even they see some specific advantages in it. On the other side of the table, are there some things I was going to say? We I’ll say it for the effect of the question. We as female business owners.
Emily Doxford: Yes, Yes.
Stone Payton: Can do ourselves for ourselves to help bridge the gap. Like like what can the female business owner do to, you know, to also help bridge the gap, do you think?
Emily Doxford: This is a great question, and I think it’s as simple and as complex as this. I think that the female business owner we stone we have to be so well researched with business plans, with our partnerships, with our strategy there. You know, you’ve you’ve mentioned some we’ve talked about some there is an availability of programs. There are there are partnerships available to female entrepreneurs. It’s knowing where they are. And it’s it’s knowing. It’s knowing how to access them. I think a great place to to start is the Small Business Administration, the SBA. They they currently are prioritizing more female business owners getting financing. And that’s that’s everything, right? That’s the ballgame. I also like to tell female business owners to go to their local cdphe, which is a community development financial institution or a women’s business center. And there is human resources, there are financial resources, there’s any number of resources available to to female business owners to help them, to help them learn next steps. Right. Whether it’s a it’s a loan, whether it is a network, whether it’s writing a business plan, there there are there are places available to to help women scale up.
Stone Payton: Well, that’s a helpful little nugget right there. I certainly was not aware of I had not heard of and I’ll bet you a lot of our listeners have not heard of Cdphe community. What again, is it?
Emily Doxford: Yeah, Community Development, financial institution and most most states have a few. Most cities have one. I know Atlanta has one. Okay. But they they are they are there to serve the small business community.
Stone Payton: Boy, am I going to sound smart at the next little business meeting I’m at.
Emily Doxford: You got this Stone.
Stone Payton: I’ll try to remember to to give you a little bit of credit. Okay. So before we wrap, kind of going back to your platform and it can be like the 30,000 foot view, but maybe you can fill in some of the the blanks here. This is something that a female business owner can can get onto and navigate and find some resources. Just speak to that, the platform itself a little bit, if you could.
Emily Doxford: Sure. So any any business owner is can can come visit us at at loan mantra. They can find us online at loan mantra.com and can use our financial technology, our financial platform to to access capital. So it’s a it’s an easy, transparent solution to to gain financing. In addition to that, we have wonderful experts who are available to talk through any questions that a borrower may have, an entrepreneur or entrepreneur, that that word felt extremely hard right there for some some reason. And they have about about accessing capital.
Stone Payton: Well, I think that’s fantastic. All right. I’m going to switch gears on you for a moment. Before we before we wrap, before we came on the air, we were talking about you being now in Arizona. So the answer to this may have changed a little bit, but I am genuinely curious about and I don’t know when you’d find the time, but passions, if any, outside the scope of your work. Most of my listeners know that I like to hunt fish and travel. Right? Right, right. But something you have a tendency maybe to nerd out about that really is not directly connected to your work at loan mantra anything?
Emily Doxford: Oh, that’s a great question. So I had mentioned to to Stone earlier that I’m a recent transplant to Arizona from New York City, which spoiled me abundantly in terms of finding great new restaurants to to try. So I really enjoy I really enjoy that. I really enjoy when I don’t have to cook. Let’s let’s put it that way. I, I am an avid reader. I love art museums. I, I like to travel and I enjoy actually writing in my spare time. So.
Stone Payton: All right. But with the move, you may have to slide a little closer to my end of the continuum on hunt and fish, right?
Emily Doxford: Yes.
Emily Doxford: It was not a leading question at all, right?
Stone Payton: So that’s funny.
Emily Doxford: Let’s let’s talk soon. And we’ll we’ll see. We’ll see where we where we end up, my friend.
Stone Payton: You got it. All right, Let’s make sure that our listeners do know how to access the platform, maybe reach out and have a conversation with you or somebody on your team. Whatever is the easiest and most appropriate. Let’s give them those coordinates.
Emily Doxford: Absolutely. So a listener can reach out and please do at W-w-w dot loan mantra.com. They can also find us on LinkedIn, on social media, Facebook, Instagram, others at loan mantra. Feel free to reach out with me directly on on LinkedIn. Um. Emily Larson Oxford.
Stone Payton: Well Emily, it has been an absolute delight having you on the show this afternoon. It’s a it’s been inspiring. It’s been informative. Thank you for sharing your perspective and your insight and keep up the good work that what you’re doing, what you and your team are out there doing for folks is so, so important And we sincerely appreciate you.
Emily Doxford: Thanks, Stone. Thanks for having me.
Stone Payton: My pleasure. All right. Until next time, This is Stone Payton for our guest today, Emily Doxford with lone Mantra. And everyone here at the Business RadioX family saying we’ll see you in the fast lane.