Brock Blake, CEO of Lendio, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss small business optimism and the latest round of PPP loans.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Let's go to something that might benefit from people traveling, small business, and we want to invite into the stream Brock Blake. He's the CEO of Lendio. This is a company that helps small businesses get financing. So, Brock, good to have you here.
We know from the NFIB, the data shows that small business certainty is strengthening, and uncertainty is decreasing. What does that mean if I'm trying to get a loan and I'm a small business?
BROCK BLAKE: Well, you've got a couple of things happening. First off, those businesses who have made it through the pandemic are coming out of this with optimism and strength. So if you've got through the worst of it, to be able to look at to 2021 and forecast your growth opportunity, there's optimism there. Then you have other entrepreneurs that may have lost their job or had a little bit of extra income from the stimulus that decided this is the best time for them to go and start a business. And so we've had a record number of entrepreneurial starts over the last six to 12 months. And there's always optimism around new start.
SEANA SMITH: Brock, there's discussions now about extending the PPP program that's supposed to end on March 31-- there's talk about extending it through May. You're talking with these small business owners all the time on a daily basis. What do they need right now that they're not getting? And I guess how critical is it that we do see that extension-- that we do see that deadline extended?
BROCK BLAKE: They need the extension. That's the most important thing that a business owner can get right now is because this round of PPP has been full of complications and complexities. The SBA has done a good job on trying to prevent fraud, but that's created a lot of hurdles and other checks and balances that need to be put in place, which means the loan program is taking much, much longer for a business owner to get approved and funded than it did the last time around.
They just implemented some new rules, the Biden administration a couple of weeks ago, around the smallest of small businesses. Those are Schedule C filers, sole prop, self-employed, independent contractors. But most of the largest financial institutions in the country have decided just to opt out, because they don't have enough time to implement those new rules if the deadline is March 31.
There are still many-- there are millions of business owners, in our estimation, that still are looking for that next round of PPP loan, haven't secured it by now. And we absolutely believe that the deadline needs to be extended past March 31 to help those business owners get the-- get the capital they need.
ADAM SHAPIRO: I want to remind everybody that Lendio is easy to find. Its www.lendio.com. I am curious-- you know, in regular times when it's not the PPP loan, you're going to be helping small businesses finance. So who do you see coming to the table, whether it's PPP or the other kind of more normal financing?
BROCK BLAKE: Well, Lendio, we're the largest marketplace in the United States for small business loans, which means we offer every type of loan product. It's kind of like Expedia or Kayak-- we connect the business owner up to an options of lenders to be able to choose the product that is the best fit for them. Today, the best product in the market is a Paycheck Protection loan, and so we've helped over 130,000 businesses secure about $9 billion of loans with the PPP loans.
But we also-- there's lenders that are eager to lend, whether it be working capital loans, equipment loans, SBA loans, other types of loans for that small business owner. So our hope is let's help you get on your feet with a Paycheck Protection loan, earn your trust, and then hopefully take care of you as your optimism starts to come back in 2021 with other loan products to help you grow your business.
SEANA SMITH: Brock, when you're talking to these small business owners, have we seen the worst of it at this point? Or is the next several months or next couple of years going to continue to be extremely challenging for so many of these small business owners?
BROCK BLAKE: I think we've hit rock bottom as far as the pain the business owners have felt. And-- sorry, I was just getting a call, trying to mute my phone. We feel like we've seen that-- we've hit rock bottom and that we're coming back out of that. Now, part of that is the business owner getting this Paycheck Protection loan and keeping their team members employed so that when the market opens up, when there's looser restrictions around the pandemic, that they'll be in a position of strength to be able to grow their business.
ADAM SHAPIRO: I don't know if you can hear the sirens down there, but they're cheering for you right now. We want to thank you for joining us, Brock Blake, CEO of Lendio. All the best to you, and I imagine we're going to invite you to come back to update us on how things are progressing as we go into the quarter.