On the popular CBC show Dragon’s Den, inventors are given a chance to pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. P2P Financial Inc. wants to replicate that online, with a market it launched last month to link independent lenders with entrepreneurs seeking investments ranging from $25,000 to $1 million.
While small businesses can turn to banks and venture capitalists for funds, there are still billions of dollars loaned each year by informal, or “angel” investors, says Matthew McGrath, the president and CEO of Toronto-based P2P. But it’s an “opaque and fragmented arena” that has lacked a formal market, he adds. The venture capital market has also slowed considerably since the recession, creating pent-up demand for financing. P2P’s Online Financing Market (which charges entrepreneurs a percentage of the money they raise) so far has a handful of listings, including a green energy firm offering an equity stake and a yoga studio seeking a start-up loan.