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Executive Interview Series: Funder Intel’s Shane Mahabir

Picture of Funder Intel Shane

While revenue-based financing is now seen as a key tool for business growth, its complexities remain a challenge for many involved—merchants, funders, brokers, and even lawmakers. 

Funder Intel, led by Shane Mahabir, is taking steps to bridge this gap by offering a centralized platform where industry players can access resources, learn, and connect to expand their businesses.

Beyond a repository of courses and content, Funder Intel has built a real community

It’s a place for exchanging ideas, networking, and discovering tools for business development, from provider lists and software solutions to broker coaching and online presence evaluation.

For the next installment of our executive interview series, we sit down with Shane to cover the evolution of this dynamic industry. Expect to learn his background, the industry today vs. when he started, the value of community, and much more.  

To get caught up on the series, check out our previous interviews:

  • Mike Dell, Business Development Specialist, Wall Street Funding.
  • Dave Shollock, Director of Business Development, Merit Business Funding.
  • Jacob H. Nemon, Partner, Carter Ledyard & Milburn.

Let’s dive in.

Background and Professional Experience 

Q: To begin, how did you get into the revenue-based financing space?

My career had gone in several different directions, from a Regional Business Consultant for a disaster restoration franchisor for about five years starting here in South Florida, then they moved me out to Vegas, then California, and then I came back here in 2011.  

From there, I worked for a few companies including an email marketing company before I joined Knight Capital Funding, which had just started around six months before. So basically, it was a merchant cash advance (MCA) funder startup, and I was working in ISO and sales support.

Q: So you’ve been in the industry for about a decade?

Yes, I started in 2014, so ten years now.

I was with Knight Capital until 2016, until I decided to take a job with one of the bigger funders at the time—BFS Capital in Coral Springs—doing renewal sales.

But that didn’t last too long: I got out of there before they had a bunch of layoffs and their president left and all that. And then I went to Greenbox Capital, another funder, and was there for a couple of years.

After that, I went to work for a broker for about a year and then went to work for SOS Capital, another funder, based in New York. I worked remotely from 2018 to the pandemic. 

Finally, I left there in August 2020 to dedicate my professional life to Funder Intel.

However, having other goals I wanted to reach, it wasn’t long after that that I decided to go back to school and I received my MBA in 2022. 

Q: What does a typical day look like for you as the president and founder of Funder Intel? 

While my work schedule is flexible, I typically start my day by analyzing stats and web data from the day before: from website traffic, to new member sign ups, to clicks, and that kind of stuff.

Then it’s new content, or content that needs to be shared on our social media accounts. And spur of the moment tasks, like an important email, a bug on the website.

Towards the later part of the morning, I make phone calls.

Then, it’s all about planning. Scheduling meetings, calls, live events, etc.. I visit offices here and there. 

But most days, I spend a large chunk of time updating the Funder Intel website, creating new content, and communicating with our members.

Funder Intel: The Origin Story 

Q: How did the initial idea to create Funder Intel come about?

I was always looking for ways to improve at my job.

In ISO support, ISO relations, as an ISO manager for SOS Capital, the last funding company I worked for. 

I found that, as far as finding new partners, it’s just scattered all over the web: message boards, LinkedIn, Facebook, wherever you can find them. You’re going everywhere.

But then you don’t know how good these guys are—you don’t really know much about them and there really wasn’t a place you can go for ratings and reviews.

There are rating and reviews sites out there, such as Yelp or Trustpilot, and also niche review sites for lawyers, for doctors, for a number of industries. So I thought: how can we make something similar for revenue-based funding?

People want to know who’s good, and who’s bad. So that was the inception.

And I just started putting as many companies as I could on a website. I was trying to figure out how to help everyone else find more partners—that goes for brokers and funders. 

There were other sites out there that offered just directories. So I got the directory, plus ratings, reviews, and the niche industry. I did that for a period of time and learned a lot of reasons why it would or wouldn’t work, how to do it, and the resources needed to do it. 

What I’ve learned is that the value of Funder Intel is in creating a sense of community. It’s easy to whip up a website and put 5000 companies and let everyone review, but that alone doesn’t build a community.

In other industries, data brokers have everything under the sun for a company; they have the free data and then they have the paid version. People in revenue-based financing wanted that for everyone that they’re trying to partner with, but there wasn’t an easy way to find it.

Now, they can come to Funder Intel. Not only do they have options with respect to data, but they can belong to a group that brings more transparency than anywhere else in the industry—that brings value.

Q: How did you transition to providing educational resources?

The question was: how can we deliver more value?

There is a company in the real estate industry that’s basically an all-in-one community—it’s kind of my north star. They started out with articles, and now they do everything from live events, to paid exclusive content, to referring real estate agents.

I wanted to test this idea, knowing that a website that only provides reviews wasn’t going to work long-term. 

The reason is people are super competitive. To the point where they don’t even want to give good reviews to other people, because they’re afraid that companies get too much attention and create competition for them. And mostly no one wants to put their name on a negative review.

So we pivoted, and I started adding new features and new content. For example, it was pretty easy to add a community forum. We’re now publishing more content, courses, doing more videos, interviews, and collaborating with new partners and industry stakeholders, like the Revenue Based Finance Coalition (RBFC). 

With respect to content, our articles offer our stakeholders a wide range of viewpoints. 

There’s a desire in every industry for more content. People consume information that’s going to help them. Some of it can be entertaining and educational, but we’re about giving information that can help people and offer a new/interesting take on the happenings of the industry.

Industry Evolution

Q: How have you seen the revenue-based financing industry evolve since you started out?

Product awareness is probably first and foremost—small business owners better understand what revenue-based financing is, more so than ever before. 

Then there’s the technology side of things

Funding used to take two days to a week or two, because the merchant had to sign a document or two to get that transfer going, then the credit card splits—we did it all manually. 

At Knight Capital, we implemented artificial intelligence and machine learning into underwriting.

From a user perspective, there’s less friction when processing and applying—merchants can apply within minutes. And on the back end, it’s night and day from the underwriting perspective.

It’s tremendously more efficient for funders and brokers, who can handle much higher volumes. 

Q: What about the industry’s reputation? How has that evolved?

When I first started in the industry, a lot of companies back then were charging high factor rates, along with exorbitant extra fees. 

At the time, I wondered how was that even possible, and who these companies were taking their product to.

Now there’s still some of that, but the industry has matured, and now most funders offer conditions that demonstrate a concern for the financial future of merchants. 

A lot of the bad reputation also came from the confessions of judgment (COJ) that made public news from Bloomberg, which got the attention of New York and the state legislature there.

And obviously, there are other issues, like Yellowstone Capital getting sued by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. 

Q: So, what has changed in recent years?

Gone are the days of the COJs, which is obviously great for pretty much everyone, except for the funders that used them in a malicious way.

There are more companies with lower factor rates, which helps with the legitimacy of the product overall.

So there’s more awareness and more legitimacy, because funders have found different ways to structure financing. Whether it’s weekly, biweekly, or monthly, there are multiple options now. And the cost of capital is lower for the top-tier providers.

We went from merchant cash advance to revenue-based financing, and the latter is now seen as a legitimate tool for accessing working capital.

Industry Regulation

Q: What is your opinion on what’s happening with the state disclosure regulations?

It had to be done, as an evolution of the product. Because it was the wild, wild west.

When there’s money involved, people are going to get greedy if there are no rules and no repercussions. So gradually, as legislators became more aware of the industry and the negative attention…this was just going to naturally happen.

I think overall, it’s good, but to a certain extent. It brings legitimacy to the industry.

But the different states having so many different variations of disclosure regulations is a problem—one for the funders mostly. And it’s a costly problem because they have to make sure they’re up-to-date on everything, or else get in trouble and pay hefty fines.

Organizations have fought for certain types of legislation, or for preventing certain types of legislation, and it’d be great if we just had something on a federal level.

States are getting more strict, and it takes adaptation for both brokers and funders if they want to survive. It will also weed out a lot of the more nefarious actors.

The lobbyists and the people who are fighting for it are great. They’re super helpful when it comes to education, because many lawmakers don’t know about certain niches of financing—they can’t be expected to be experts in every single industry.

So it was really important to get information to these folks, to give them more knowledge to help them make laws. And I think that that shouldn’t be understated.

As for the regulations themselves, I don’t think people will mind to a certain extent. But I think funders and brokers are scared of limiting business owners from accessing capital that they’ve never been able to access. 

That’s precisely what revenue-based financing gives them.

Wrapping Up

Q: Given your broker background, what advice do you have for brokers who want to be successful in this industry?

First off, there’s a fine line between being aggressive and being unprofessional.

Second, new brokers need to understand that there are different ways to originate deals. 

So it doesn’t mean that you have to be great at cold calling and phone sales—a lot of people are scared off by a traditional way of doing things. You can get tons of deals by posting on social media (of course, then you have to qualify them). Or you can hire a team to do that for you.

But the follow-up process and lead management are crucial. The people who get off the ground and do very well as a new broker are the ones who are good at that.

It’s about being on top of the business owner. Even if they need financing, you’ll hear “no” more than you will hear “yes,” but you can’t be passive. You do have to stay in their face to get a deal flow, a pipeline filled.

Also, the relationship that you build with funders and lenders of all sorts is going to be a key to success—to get some wiggle room on offers, to close the deal.

Because they trust that you have a relationship with the client, more than just some random person that you send deals to. From the funder’s perspective, it matters who the deal is coming from, because they feel comfortable in the due diligence that you’ve done.

Finally, renewals. You don’t want to have to rely on closing twenty new deals a month for the rest of your life. You want to have ten deals just being renewed automatically by the funder.

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