Business Monday

Startup spotlight: Quotanda aims to revolutionalize international student financing

AIMS TO REVOLUTIONIZE STUDENT LENDING: Grant Taylor at the Webcongress office in Miami’s Venture Hive, where his company, Taylor’s Quotanda, also is based.
AIMS TO REVOLUTIONIZE STUDENT LENDING: Grant Taylor at the Webcongress office in Miami’s Venture Hive, where his company, Taylor’s Quotanda, also is based. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Quotanda

Headquarters: Miami

Concept: Education is now global, student financing isn’t. Quotanda is changing that. Quotanda’s technology platform provides students with affordable financing options, schools with immediate cash flow and investors with strong returns.

Story: Student financing is broken, particularly for nontraditional schools and international students, said Grant Taylor, co-founder of Quotanda. “I saw the problems my international friends were having financing their education during my MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona. I realized it was a global issue.”

Billions of people find their potential is limited by an education finance system that caters largely to U.S. students attending traditional institutions, and at the same time, investors are searching for yield. The Internet allows us to operate in new ways, he said, and online lenders have a significant cost advantage over traditional banks: “Quotanda’s education finance platform connects lenders with qualified borrowers; it’s just more efficient.”

In 2006, Taylor invested in the seed round of his friend Andres Moreno’s business, Open English: “Andres showed me how an innovative idea and perseverance can benefit the lives of millions. I realized the best way to scale positive change was as an entrepreneur.” Taylor said his investment in Open English provided him with startup capital: “I saw it as a chance to give others the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams.”

Taylor worked on the Quotanda business plan while working on his MBA at IESE Business School in Spain and launched the company there last year. With his partner Lino Pujol now running the business in Spain, he returned to the United States and moved to Miami earlier this year. The Quotanda team continues to grow and now includes a range of globally experienced advisors and executives including Bill Hubert, a serial entrepreneur and U.S. student lending veteran.

Launched: 2013

Management team: Grant Taylor, Bill Hubert, Lino Pujol.

Website: www.quotanda.com

Financing: Self-financed so far and seeking several million for company growth. Quotanda’s student loans (approximately 35 loans with $500,000) are financed by accredited investors, including Andres Moreno and other Open English executives, as well as professors and alumni of IESE.

Recent milestones: Teamed up with Hubert, founder of Cology.com (sold in 2012 to First Marblehead), one of the top origination and servicing businesses in the U.S. “He is keen to revolutionize the student lending again and I am fortunate to be working with him,” Taylor said. Joined Venture Hive in June with advisors including Moreno, Thomas “Tigre“ Wenrich and Susan Amat. Invited to the White House by the Office of Science and Technology Policy to brainstorm expansion of private financing for accelerated learning programs. A finalist in the BBVA Open Talent 2014 for North America held in Mexico City.

Biggest startup challenge: Legal complexity of a highly regulated industry.

Next step: Launching education financing programs in the U.S. in November. Quotanda is working with forward-thinking schools, not just business schools, to provide students with innovative financing options.

Mentors’ views: “Quotanda solves an international problem in education with a simple yet effective solution. Grant's leadership goes beyond a great return to investors. His goal is to help students access educational opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. I love startups that solve huge problems, create great financial returns, and make the world better at the same time — win-win-win,” said Amat, founder of Venture Hive, an accelerator, incubator and entrepreneurial education company.

“Grant has already proven the model can work in practice. In partnering with Bill Hubert, he will now have the technology capability required to scale up quickly,” said Wenrich, a mentor, investor and former Open English COO/CFO. “The model needs a lot of capital to fund the actual loans, which is different than the situation facing most other early-stage startups. Angel investors don’t have deep enough pockets, so we are looking for institutional lenders.”

Nancy Dahlberg

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