In late March, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing mom-and-pop shops across the country to shut down indefinitely, small business lender Kabbage furloughed a “significant number” of employees and paused its lending operation, anticipating the contraction in its customer base.
But CEO Rob Frohwein, who co-founded the Atlanta-based company during the previous financial crisis in 2009, had no intention of sitting back and waiting for shelter-in-place orders to expire. Rather, he saw an opening for Kabbage to put its technology, over a decade in the making, to use on a much bigger stage.
Frohwein knew that massive numbers of restaurants, boutique hotels, retailers and barber shops would immediately need checks from the government to avoid having to permanently shut their doors. So the CEO and his team, all working from their homes mostly in the Atlanta area, rapidly stood up partnerships with small banks that would need the help of automation to quickly process stimulus applications for so many of their customers.