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SnapCap to double team, move office to new spot in Cigar Factory development

Banking & Finance
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Charleston-based SnapCap plans to at least double the size of its team and move into a 3,200-square-foot office in the Cigar Factory development.

The Web-based finance lender currently employs 10 people out of an office at 205 King St. in downtown Charleston with plans to relocate to the fourth floor of the five-story building located on East Bay Street at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge.

Built in the 1880s and most recently home to Johnson & Wales University, the Cigar Factory is undergoing massive renovations scheduled for completion this summer.

Steve Swanson (left), founder of Automated Trading Desk and a SnapCap investor, and SnapCap President Hunter Stunzi work out of the company's King Street office. (Photo/Melanie Mathos)

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SnapCap will join tenants Garden & Gun magazine, The Indigo Road restaurant group, Exceed Physical Culture gym, design firm Fritz Porter, Midland Mortgage Corp., tech firm EnviroMix Inc., The Law Office of M. Brooks Derrick LLC and Strategic Risk Solutions.

“The redevelopment of the northern half of the Peninsula is symbolic of the growth projected for Charleston over the coming years, and the Cigar Factory will serve as a visibly prominent landmark signaling that growth,” SnapCap President and co-founder Hunter Stunzi said.

As SnapCap prepares to relocate, Stunzi said he expects to hire at least 10 more employees over the next year for sales, processing and credit and underwriting positions.

Stunzi and Chris Mettler, SnapCap’s vice president of operations, founded the company in 2012 after both working at banks, where they were frustrated by what businesses had to go through to secure loans. Many entrepreneurs were denied loans or the process took too long to be helpful, Stunzi said.

They wanted to find a way to quickly vet business owners or companies for loans.

SnapCap provides business loans up to $250,000 to existing businesses, usually within 48 hours. The majority of the loans are for fewer than 12 months, and the average loan is $38,000.

“We’re having the fastest conversation with our users; faster than all of our competitors,” Stunzi said.

The company recently nabbed Automated Trading Desk founder Steve Swanson as an investor and mentor to help scale the business. Swanson founded ATD in Charleston in 1988 and joined Citi’s Global Electronic Trading Products and Services group when Citi acquired ATD.

“When we first met, I saw a lot of similarities between what is happening at SnapCap and what we had been doing at Automated Trading Desk,” Swanson said. “The ability to take data and correlate that to help you make decisions on whether it would be a good trade, which is what we did at ADT, or a good loan, in SnapCap’s case ... was immediately exciting.”

How it works

Stunzi said he’s not looking to lend to people who are trying to consolidate debt or make payroll for that month. He said he feels that lending on a “needs basis,” such as with payday lenders, is unethical.

SnapCap loans are designed for business owners who need to grow their inventory, expand their workforce or move into a new space, for example. SnapCap lends to coffeeshops, auto mechanics, real estate agents, e-commerce firms, pet kennels, landscaping services and taxi companies, to name a few.

Among the Charleston company’s recent loans were $65,000 to a Fort Myers, Fla.-based medical supply company for an expansion; $12,000 to an Anaheim, Calif.-based child-care center to hire more employees and $11,000 to a Houston-based computer repair firm for marketing.

“It’s really critical for us as a lender with money at play that the people are borrowing for the right reasons. ... We’re not interested in lending to people who can just barely pay it back,” Stunzi said. “We want them to make money from borrowing our money — and from that we develop relationships with borrowers that span many, many loans.”

SnapCap implemented an aggressive online advertising campaign; its site usually appears as the No. 1 paid search result when someone Googles “business loan.”

SnapCap’s sales team reviews each applicant’s financial information and credit score for the three months prior. Each employee reviews about 10 applicants a day on average, Stunzi said.

Ideal borrowers have been in business for at least three years, have about $100,000 in revenue and maintain an average bank balance of $1,500, among other factors.

Loans are divided into daily payments that are debited automatically Monday through Friday from a merchant’s account. SnapCap does not disclose its rates.

Swanson and Stunzi, both College of Charleston alumni, wanted students to have the opportunity to work at SnapCap part time while in school.

As a member of the College of Charleston’s Business School Board of Governors, Swanson helped create an internship program for finance and business undergraduates at the college. SnapCap currently has four interns.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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