Meet App-Based Loan King Travis Holoway

Using the power of community to address financial hardships

After his family and friends would often ask him for financial help, Travis Holoway decided to launch a fintech company powered by the community.

Travis Holoway

SoLo Funds

Holoway is the CEO of the fintech company SoLo Funds, creator of an online community where members can request and fund short-term financial needs. He said he realized that there aren’t many feasible options for short-term loans when people need help with things like paying for groceries, covering a light bill, or even replacing a flat tire. 

"There was such a lack of resources available for these small amounts of loans," Holoway told Lifewire in a phone interview. "I realized that my family and friends were coming to me for this help because they couldn’t go to a bank to get a loan for $50 for gas."

Holoway said SoLo Funds’ online community operates like a marketplace where people can lend and borrow short-term funds for immediate needs. Borrowers can request loans with specified reasons, set their payback dates, and add desired tips for lenders.

These requests float into a marketplace for lenders to choose from, and they can also see more details for each request and repayment history before deciding to provide any capital. Consumers can access SoLo Funds through the company’s iOS and Android mobile applications.  

Quick Facts

Name: Travis Holoway

Age: 33

From: Cleveland, Ohio

Random Delight: "What I like to do in my free time is chase down rare sneakers and the newest releases."

Key quote or motto he lives by: "When ego takes the will, you’ll never reach your destination."

How SoLo Funds Works

Holoway moved to New York to start his career in finance after wrapping up college at the University of Cincinnati.

He was a financial advisor for about seven and a half years at Northwestern Mutual before he teamed up with his best friend of 13 years, Rodney Williams, to launch SoLo Funds. Based in Los Angeles, the company has a team of 32 employees and is growing. 

Holoway said that if people cannot access more short-term loan options, they either have to go without or take out a traditional payday loan, which comes with high interest rates.

Since SoLo Funds operates in real-time, transactions happen immediately once lenders agree to provide capital.

"This happens in real-time because we’re moving money using debit cards as opposed to ACH, which can take two to three business days to process funds," Holoway said. "I think that’s why a lot of our borrowers are so excited about this platform and appreciate it."

SoLo Funds founders, Travis Holoway and Rodney Williams.
SoLo Funds founders, Travis Holoway and Rodney Williams.

SoLo Funds

But what about safety precautions for lenders? One of the most significant pain points in working in the fintech industry is addressing fraud. Holoway said the company uses anti-money laundering software and Know Your Customer requirements when taking on new users to fulfill legal obligations and add that extra security layer.

SoLo Funds collects all the same information a traditional bank would to open a new account. Lenders also have the option to protect their loans, so that if borrowers can’t pay them back, SoLo Funds will cover loans in the form of credit. 

Consistent Growth and Focus 

SoLo Funds’ business has excelled during the pandemic, and Holoway said that’s because more people have been demanding small-dollar capital. SoLo Funds saw 40% month-over-month growth last year and grew revenue by 2,000%, compared to 2019, Holoway said. 

"Lending and credit companies started to constrict the capital that they were deploying into the market because everyone was concerned about credit risk and whether or not people would be able to pay," Holoway explained.

"We realized we had the opportunity to deploy capital to people who needed it most."

As a minority tech founder, Holoway said he wasn’t surprised by his experience in raising venture capital to launch SoLo Funds. He said he has felt undervalued and has had to overachieve to secure funding, but this has forced him to be more creative. 

"It’s no secret that minority founders get significantly less funding than our counterparts," he said. "The moral of the story is that you can’t give up."

"I realized that my family and friends were coming to me for this help because they couldn’t go to a bank to get a loan for $50 for gas."

Holoway has overcome this hurdle because he focuses on the economics of his business and has found ways to operate more sustainably if he is unable to continue securing venture capital.

SoLo Funds has raised about $14 million in venture capital to date, including a $10 million Series A that the company closed in February. 

To keep up with all of its success this year following the recent funding close, SoLo Funds is looking to hire for several engineering, product, and marketing positions.

Holoway also is focused on leading the release of new product features that make it easier to deploy capital and better protect lenders, and provide more financial tools and resources for borrowers. 

"The goal for this year is to start marketing ourselves more so that we’re not the stealth company that people only learn about through word of mouth," Holoway said. "We want as many people to be aware of the work that we’re doing as possible."

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