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Entrepreneur-Loan

entrepreneur-loans is the idea of re-appropriating the existing student loan infrastructure for start-ups - to make it easier for them to get to capital especially in the tough beginning years.

Photo of Stefan Ritter
64 37

Written by

My flatmate Bryan Gibson (who is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics) and I worked on a proposal for entrepreneur loans.


From student to entrepreneur

Similar to the student loan systems that most countries already have, an entrepreneur loan should provide capital to help a start-up to kick off, especially in regions more neglected by established venture capitalists.

Student loans have a certain threshold until which the money stays interest free, after which interest rates go back up to the market standard (or the ECB rate).

Building on the comments below, the enterpreneur loan could work as an extension of the student loan system to enable people to start their own company right out of school.


Incentives for growth

With the entrepreneur loan this can be a similar time span of 3 years, but the challenge is to create incentives for start-ups to employ additional staff and grow.

One way of achieving this would be to give a bonus for each new employee hired (eg. The interest rate drops by five points for every additional employee).

Another incentive mentioned by Meena Kadri and Tim Hood would be setting a certain profitability threshold before repayment starts.


Who is behind the system?

Similar to student loans this could be a public-private partnership. The public hand could lower the risks for private investors to join in. The enterpreneur loan is kick off money, after which the start-up could become a business customer for the private partner.

Potentially the revenue of the loans used to save the banks which were too big to fail in 2008 could be channeled into these start-ups as a political gesture of the big helping the small.


Back to school

Because starting a company is a hard education of its own right, the system could include uni-credit (ECTS) points, to help students stay in their programs, or other entrepreneurs to start a degree. This would benefit both the start-ups with easy access to education and academic innovation as well as the universities, which get hands on business experience and know-how onto their campus.

How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?

The idea is to lower the borders to kick-off money. And help students directly from college to start their own company by integrating their student loan into the entrepreneur loan.

How could we get started?

Using existing student loan infrastructure, this loan system should be able to integrate seamlessly and work as an extension of the student loan system.

Virtual Team:

Jyotirmaya Mahapatra Victoria Scarffe Tim Hood Meena Kadri Ashley Jablow Tyler Paine Amy Bonsall

Evaluation results

14 evaluations so far

1. How well does this concept address a significant pain point felt by European web start-ups?

This is a major pain point for European start-ups - 71.4%

This is a "nice to have" but not a serious pain point - 21.4%

I really don't know - 7.1%

2. How novel do you think the concept is?

Never seen it before - very novel! - 28.6%

This is common in some places but not in many parts of Europe - 21.4%

This is not novel but a good iteration - 42.9%

There are already other solutions out there that address this problem - 7.1%

3. How easy is this concept to implement and maintain?

It could be implemented quickly and easily maintained - 7.1%

It could be implemented quickly but will require regular updates to ensure it is accurate and relevant - 14.3%

It is a big undertaking and would need a lot of support and cooperation from people and organisations to make it happen and to maintain it - 78.6%

4. What type of organisation is best placed to take this forward?

The European Commission should own this one - 28.6%

This belongs with member state governments (e.g., the UK, Belgium, etc) - 64.3%

This is best being owned by a private company - 0%

This feels like a non-profit - 7.1%

This is a start-up itself! - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world! - 42.9%

I liked it but preferred others - 50%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 7.1%

64 comments

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Photo of OpenIDEO

Congratulations on sharing a winning concept! The EC loved the thought of providing alternative means of bootstrapping young companies.

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Photo of Paul Reader

Once again congratulations Stefan - you have a very insightful mind for transitional ideas. Will be very interested to see what develops from this and the other winning concepts despite my being physically remote from the centre of action. Look forward to your thoughts on the next few challenges too.

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DeletedUser

I like your concept a lot: it's simple and clear. I think it can be very successful in those countries where student loans are widespread, as in UK (not so much in Spain, for example, and other EU countries where there's not such an habit). I was thinking that, if you get a student loan, when you finish your studies I suppose you rush to get a job to return the loan... If you were considering setting up your own business, I suppose you just leave that on hold... And sometimes the opportunity is here & now...

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Some good points Irene - and, as usual, another straightforward and very useful concept Stefan.
I guess for those countries without student-loan systems (or perhaps even centrally through the EEC) copying and building on existing models would provide a starting-point.

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Photo of Ashley Jablow

I really like this concept a lot, Stefan. My husband is starting a business and access to funding is the #1 issue he's facing. A small business loan isn't quite right for him - but something like this, that has the purpose of helping him get on his feet while also incentivizing his growth, would be really helpful. I'll be eager to see this one get built out a bit more over the Concepting phase.

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Photo of jyotirmaya mahapatra

Nice thought. A loan payback system can be designed which will take into all new asset purchases or hiring into consideration.

Instead of loan repayment , banks could also derive paybacks form public offering the new enterprise will make.

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DeletedUser

This concept has been in place in France for many years for every kind of businness. See http://www.france-initiative.fr/ For innovative project, the loan can be up to 80 000 euros in our place.

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Photo of Stefan Ritter

I like the french system, has there been any studies on its success?

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DeletedUser

Follow the link http://www.france-initiative.fr/index.php/france_initiative/presse_documentation/communiques_de_presse/en_2011_pres_de_16_000_entreprises_et_plus_de_35_000_emplois_crees_ou_maintenus you will find figures for 2011: 16 000 business created, 1,1 BnÔé¼ of loan (including bank loans associated to the loan to the entrepreneur)

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Photo of Meena Kadri

When I had a student loan (quite a while back!) in New Zealand – the mechanism for baseline repayments was via an additional tax percentage devised for loan holders (ie. you only had to start repaying the loan once you were earning) A potential build so that startups didn't have to meet repayments until they were deriving a profit?

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Photo of Amy Bonsall

Great thought, Meena. It would have to be structured carefully so as not to disincentivize profit. Maybe loan repayment comes from revenue, not profit.

Love the idea of finding creative ways to help web start-ups get access to funds.

I wonder about other creative ways to encourage the right behaviour with web start-ups - e.g., instead of incentives coming by hiring more (not necessarily to the benefit of the start-up at that time), could incentives come for reaching certain milestones - for instance beta release?

Stefan, who do you and Bryan envision funding this? Banks or the EC or private investors or even individuals (ala www.zopa.com)? Different parties would have different motivations, which could change the structure of the loan.

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Photo of Stefan Ritter

Amy u have a very great point. Wow I didn't know of Zopa! that's a great concept!
I built on your comment - what do you think about a public private partnership? it all seems allot more bureaucratic than zopa however.

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Photo of Amy Bonsall

I like the idea of providing confidence to private investors, but I wonder if public money is the signal that will work in this case. What about alternatives such as knowing that prominent angel investors have invested, or knowing the team has worked on start-ups in the past? Here's another bit of inspiration: www.seedrs.com

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DeletedUser

Making this like student loans, you could go farther and make entrepreneurial loans to students. Some cash to push a class project that little bit further and start marketing it.

This could alleviate some of Tim's comments below in that you could require a professor or department sign on as a mentor to say there really is a project.

And if students were getting their company in gear as they graduate maybe they could start paying off both loans sooner. :)

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Photo of jyotirmaya mahapatra

Hey Stefan ,
Just an off hand thought.

A lot of students aspire to have their own startup when they graduate. But they already have their student loans to payback. Sometimes its quite a big sum which holds them back from trying out exactly.

We can have a loan service which gives students extra payback time if they want to have their own startup.

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DeletedUser

Great idea, however, the success rates of most businesses are so low that producing a specific Entrepreneur-Loan is highly unlikely because most banks would rule out the concept.
Team Purple Cobra's
-Wells College

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DeletedUser

A good point Tyler, although drop out / exam failure/ post graduate unemployment rates are also very high and this doesn't put off banks from issuing student loans. I suspect Stefan's idea is for the loans to be underwritten by government, just as I believe is the case with student loans.

Meena's idea below makes sense- no repayment until the business reaches a certain freshold of profitability.

I think the idea is a sound one although I would hate it to turn out like the schemes tried in the 80s in the UK. These paid the equivalent of unemployment benefit to 'entrepreneurs' who set up all kinds of bogus businesses.

I think Stefan's idea is to be far more ambitious and rigorous than this. What worries me are the costs of due diligence and auditing.

The interest rate linked to employment levels is an especially excellent idea.

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DeletedUser

This is a very interesting idea. However, I pose one potential conflict. My class at Wells College interviewed an Italian web entrepreneur and we learned how difficult it is to obtain federal loans for a start-up business in Italy. Throughout Europe, banks are very reluctant to give out money to new businesses due to a lack of trust. Furthermore there is a general fear of failing in the business world so people are less willing to take risks. How can we break through these social barriers to gain European investors trust in its entrepreneurs? We need to find our way to apply the courageous business risk taking practices to the European market and eliminate the fear of failing.

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DeletedUser

I really like this idea because it lowers the initial risk of failure, makes it more likely that a business will succeed, and lessen the personal risk of failure by giving the entrepreneur a chance to recover and try again making failure not a final state.