Unicorns 76/229 – Avant
Founder/s: Al Goldstein, John Sun, Paul Zhang, Albert Goldstein
Key people: John Sun (Co-Founder & Chief Credit Officer), Paul Zhang (Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer), Suk Shah (Chief Financial Officer), Anna Fridman (General Counsel/Chief Compliance Officer), Al Goldstein (Founder & CEO) and Adam Hughes (President)
Number of employees: 501 – 1k
Avant operates an online marketplace that provides users with access to personal loans to consolidate debt, pay unexpected medical expenses, and for family vacations. Through the use of big data and machine-learning algorithms, the company offers a customized approach to streamline credit options. The company caters to consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Avant was founded in November 2012.
Avant Credit launched in late 2012 and offers consumers personal loans ranging from $1,000-$35,000 and loan terms from 2–5 years. Avant has a transparent model with APR ranging from 9.95-36%.
Avant’s technology applies algorithms, machine-learning protocols, and analytical tools in addition to the standard consumer data pulled to determine a customized rate, amount and length at which money can be borrowed. The company began providing access to loans in just 16 states in 2013. Avant currently issues loans in 46 states, and in October 2013, the company expanded beyond US borders to Canada and the United Kingdom.
From 2012-2015 the company saw substantial growth with over $1 billion in loans originated through Avant’s website and $1.4 billion in contributions by investors, including August Capital, Tiger Global and Victory Park Capital.
In 2015, Avant was named #6 to Forbes America’s Most Promising Companies list as well as Forbes list of Next Billion Dollar Startups. Chief Technology Officer Paul Zhang was listed as one of Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and Chief Executive Officer Al Goldstein won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest award. Avant has won numerous awards including the Moxie Award for Breakthrough Digital Company of the Year, Company of the Year- Financial Services at the American Business Awards and one of the Top Global Private Companies by AlwaysOn Global. In 2014 Avant raised $225 Million in equity between Tiger Global Management, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and the private equity firm KKR.