Last night the General Assembly hosted a cozy interview with Kathryn Petralia, COO and Co-founder of Kabbage. Kathryn started Kabbage along with her two co-founders in late 2008, and it has grown from 3 employees and a PowerPoint to over 130 employees.
Everett Steele of Kanga asked Kathryn to cull from her last 20 years of experience working with both startups and established companies focused on credit, payments, technology and ecommerce to give the eager crowd a few major take-a-ways.
Here’s what she said:
- Kabbage is the only fully automated lender. They cater to small businesses and individuals that need a loan smaller than what is commonly provided by the big institutions. This ranges from companies that need less than $200,000 and personal loans less than $35,000.
- They can run leaner and cut out a good bit of the overhead that their institutional competitors have to deal with because they are automated and pull data from more uncommon places. Unique data points that Kabbage employs to decide to underwrite a loan: quickbooks, google analytics, facebook, and twitter. The “democratization of data” has allowed Kabbage to continue to run lean as they scale.
- Kabbage has developed an internal mobile app, where at any moment the team can see their own performance and get a real time pulse on the organization. Kathryn swears that she lives by it.
- The company has recently undergone a hiring surge. Kabbage’s head of HR, Amy Zimmerman, chimed in that hiring that many people in specialized fields is “a lot of gut” and “reality checks.” The folks that have thrived at Kabbage embrace change and understand that the company and their jobs are dynamic and ever changing. Kathryn still personally interviews everyone they hire because she believes that “it’s all about culture,” and she wants to vet people based on their understanding of their own limitations. Bottom line she wants to find out “are you an asshole?”
- Providing daily lunch along with weekly company wide town hall meetings helps to drive socialization and a thriving work culture.
- Her “biggest regret professionally is that I didn’t raise money” for her first startup. Stew on that bootstrappers.