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  • Alternative finance platform for SMEs incubated by Arts Alliance Ventures
  • Companies share data to access credit on better terms from lenders via marketplace
  • Growth Street fills huge gap in UK business overdraft market left by banks

Arts Alliance Ventures, the venture capital firm behind brands including Interactive Investor, lastminute.com, LoveFilm, Shazam and Graze.com, has taken their learning from building more than 50 companies and started SME alternative finance platform Growth Street.

Growth Street offers flexible business overdrafts of up to £150,000. In return, firms share accounting and performance data with the platform. This information exchange helps streamline the application process, but more importantly the ongoing sharing of data reduces risk and increases efficiency, so that businesses can access credit on better terms than banks can provide.  Growth Street operates as a marketplace matching borrowers with lenders, allowing all parties to benefit from greater transparency into SME performance.

The company has attracted an impressive line-up of co-investors and advisors, who know the industry and want to support the drive for change and improvement made possible by the Growth Street approach. They include investment bankers Christiaen van Lanschot and Paolo Cuniberti, lawyers Peter Hockless and Anthony McWhirter, David Giampaolo of Pi Capital, and former FCA regulator Victoria Raffé.

Greg Carter led a team within Arts Alliance Ventures to incubate Growth Street.  He joins as CRO, and previously worked in the ventures team at Betfair. James Sherwin-Smith joined as CEO in May from consulting firms MasterCard Advisors and Oliver Wyman where he was responsible for building and advising new digital financial services brands.

Sherwin-Smith said “Growth Street uses the insight from new data sources and innovative, cloud-based technology to provide companies with the knowledge and finance to grow their business, filling a real gap in the market for flexible business credit on transparent, fairer terms.

“SME finance in the UK is fundamentally broken. Over the last three years there has been an almost 50% fall in the number of bank overdraft facilities for smaller businesses and the amount borrowed has fallen by over £8 billion. SMEs are poorly served by banks who have failed to harness new technology such as mobile banking, APIs and new data sources to provide the credit and service UK businesses really need.

“This lack of investment by banks in the SME sector is stunting SME growth and ultimately the UK economy.”

Thomas Høegh, co-founder of Growth Street and CEO at Arts Alliance Ventures, commented: “With LoveFilm we went after Blockbuster and won. This time around we are going to redefine the ‘service’ element of financial services and give the high street banks a run for their money.”