Veterans are a special breed, known for grit, integrity, and loyalty. These qualities were first in mind for Mark L. Rockefeller when he started StreetShares with Mickey Konson to help veterans fund their businesses. Their model believes in the power of the individual helping the individual and is proving to be a successful blend of military values and business acumen. Recently, with the help of veteran-focused venture firm Stony Lonesome Group, and a $20 million investment from Rotunda Capital Partners, LLC, StreetShares has completed its Series B funding round.
"This injection of capital allows us to continue to provide red-carpet treatment to our very special members — the veteran entrepreneurs, small business owners, government contractors, and impact investors — that make up our country's next 'Greatest Generation,'" said Mark Rockefeller.
What Makes StreetShares Different?
After he left the Air Force where he served as a JAG officer, Mark joined a Wall Street law firm. Though he was well compensated, he missed the camaraderie of military service and felt miserable with the type of work he was doing. He wanted something more meaningful to himself and impactful to the veteran community.
Mark had a theory that the social loyalty that exists between veterans could be harnessed (via technology) and applied for financial transactions. He met with Mickey Konson in a local diner to discuss the idea. Mickey is a native of South Africa and served a short time in the South African Air Force. After his transition, he spent 12 years as a senior executive at Capital One bank, where he learned the power of credit cards tied to established societies and groups. These are also known as affinity cards, giving him a fantastic understanding of the power of community.
StreetShares was born around that diner table. The model is based on the idea that veterans will be more loyal to their financial obligations when it is their fellow veterans funding it and not some distantly corporate bank. StreetShares brings together individual investors as the lenders, paying money into traditional loans and bonds that are available to veteran-owned and military spouse-owned businesses to access. Harnessing "social trust" means lowering the risk and the rates for borrowers and better returns for investors. To borrow a combat term, both sides have each other's six.
The military background of the leadership team also helps them understand the needs and concerns of their customers. Not only are they veterans, but they too have started their own business. This gives them the unique ability to know exactly what is needed by their customers to succeed and to be able to provide them support in the language they understand. It's why they choose to focus on the veteran and military community.
What does this Series B funding mean for veteran-owned businesses?
This latest round of funding means that more money is available for investment and at better rates than before. Not only is this a boon for StreetShares, but it also means that more companies can access the capital they need to expand their businesses. This has the happy result of injecting money into local communities as more materials and equipment are purchased, properties and buildings are bought for expansion, and people are hired to support the businesses. These loans come in various forms, from traditional loans to factoring, or loaning money based on outstanding contracts.
It also provides more opportunities for people to invest in veteran-owned small businesses as they expand their Veteran Business Bonds program. Individuals can start investing with just $25 and feel good knowing they are supporting the first military community social-impact investment program.