January 16, 2013–For the past 11 years, Jenny McMillan of Newark, Del., has been running McMillan Books, an online bookstore that primarily stocks used books, CDs and DVDs. What began for McMillan as an eBay hobby in 2001 became a business by 2005, and she left a full-time marketing job to purvey goods with her husband on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, in addition to eBay.
It’s a healthy operation, but the nature of the business has often presented the McMillans with sudden chances to purchase rare items and antiquarian books — opportunities that, due to the outlay required, they typically couldn’t afford.
“Without the ready cash, we were not always able to take advantage of these opportunities,” McMillan said.
Last year, they decided it was time to find a way to solve that problem, and get access to the capital they needed to help McMillan Books grow. Enter Kabbage, an online financing company based in Atlanta that provides cash advances to help businesses expand. Focused on online vendors like the McMillans, Kabbage’s lending criteria judge businesses on based Web-oriented benchmarks.
It’s a sensible lending niche, in an era when traditional loans are increasingly hard to come by from banks.
“In a healthy, competitive financial system, new forms of credit allocating institutions arise to finance promising business when existing financial institutions do not perform this task well,” said professor Ross Levine, the Willis H. Booth Chair in Banking and Finance at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.