Funding Circle's James Meekings: 'The first few days after our IPO were an emotional roller-coaster'
In the weeks leading up to Funding Circle’s official market debut on October 3, there were signs of trouble ahead. While many had praised the peer-to-peer lender’s boldness and ingenuity, there were others who warned it would be difficult to predict how investors would respond, amid volatile market conditions. This focus “on the long-term” is something Funding Circle repeatedly circles back to, and it’s not really a surprise. For a company that has yet to turn a profit, Funding Circle relies heavily on its long-term potential to draw in market interest, something which has helped to land it a place among the coveted tech “unicorns” – companies with a valuation of more than $1bn. While still loss-making, Funding Circle is clearly making some financial progress. “We’ve used the Bank of England’s most prudent stress test and if that was to happen, and that’s a pretty bad situation, then our returns would drop to 3pc to 5pc.”. But, in fact, Meekings says it all comes down to how demand holds up from small and medium businesses. And this could actually present Funding Circle with a larger opportunity. Back in 2008, the three university friends, Desai, now Funding Circle chief executive, Meekings and Andrew Mullinger, would spend every Thursday night in the pub, where they would chat about the small business finance market, “whether it worked well, and why it didn’t work”.