Daniel Green has a colourful and hugely successful history in business: so can he turn the ‘money hub for friends and family’ into his next winning idea?
Social lending: Can friends and family replace payday lenders?
Daniel Green is starting his latest venture Flendr in an attempt to make borrowing from friends and family a genuine alternative to payday lenders.
The business is looking to bring in principles from the Sharing Economy to loans between friends and family – something that feels like the sector’s journey reaching its natural conclusion.
Green has possessed the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven his latest venture from an early age, he told Growth Business. At 22 he was in charge of an innovative retail business that was turning over £3 million and signed up then England captain Gary Lineker for a marketing campaign.
He was also given a free sports car to drive by company TVR; which he subsequently wrote off. But the folly of youth was always tempered by a knowledge of how to make businesses work and in 1999 he sold successful business The Brand Centre to retail giants Moss Bross.
This was followed up by another lucrative exit when his business You Me TV was acquired by BSkyB in 2006.
A stint at Sky and as a CEO in the solar energy sector are also behind Green. During that time he even crossed legal swords with former Liberal Democrat cabinet member Chris Huhne.
After the courts came down firmly in Green’s favour he has continued to run businesses and has tried to keep the core of those successful teams together to work at Flendr.
His latest business is focused on making a business out of the £12bn of lending that takes place between family and friends every year – three times that borrowed from payday lenders. He says that he wants people to think along the lines of “Facebook is for your friends but Flendr is for your real friends”.
“Which one of your Facebook friends would you actually lend any money to?", he asks. “Obviously a friend is more than someone who would lend money to you, but with your very best friends you’d like to think if you were in trouble maybe they would.”
Green hopes that this kind of “social lending” will move people away from the “monsters” of banks and payday lenders whom “most people despise”.
“On the other hand if I’m lending a friend £20 I’m not seen as a monster but as someone helping them out of the situation. Many people lend not to make profits from their friends or family but just to see them through. That’s how the world goes round,” he says.
With this in mind Green says he wanted to harness the power of the social economy to create a platform where people can “comfortably lend money to each other”.
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Another aspect that the friends and family route can bring to lending is that “everybody can chip in”, so it’s not a case of having to find the money from one source.
As well as the obvious goal of monetising this P2P lending market, Green says he founded this business, as he does with all of his ventures, on the principle that “it’s something my children could engage with”.
He has previously turned down the chance to start a business selling e-cigarettes because he didn’t feel it lived up to this criteria – despite being aware of its huge financial potential.
“I just couldn’t bring myself to do it,” he says. “I’m not even sure if they’re good or bad but would I be happy if my kids were going on to my website and smoking them? Not really.”
While he accepts that his new venture “is not helpful for banks or payday lenders”, he says he is more preoccupied with the question “have I done a good thing?”.
And while we are still to see whether Flendr will release people from the astronomical interest and debt black holes of the payday lenders, Flendr does on the surface of it appear to be a good thing.