So Pollara turned to Earnest, a new small-scale lending company with an unconventional approach to risk assessment.
Rather than focus only on standard measures, such as borrowers‘ credit scores and existing debt, Earnest also considers spending and saving habits and income potential, based on such factors as where borrowers went to college and what degrees they earned.
Earnest is even willing to issue loans for reasons that might raise eyebrows at other lenders, such as vacations and gifts.
Earnest is headquartered in San Francisco but is opening in Massachusetts first because of the high concentration of young professionals in Greater Boston, said chief executive Louis Beryl, a Harvard Business School graduate.
Beryl believes the loans will be a hit with people fresh out of school, who maybe at the beginning of promising careers and are perfectly capable of repayment, but are likely to be turned down elsewhere or saddled with high interest rates because they don’t have long histories of making good on their debts.
Earnest’s loans are not only for recent grads, Beryl noted.
Earnest is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, the California venture capital firm where Beryl was a partner before leaving to launch his startup, along with Atlas Venture and First Round Capital.