Small Business

Going against the grain: A case study on CounterEv

Being let go from a job never feels good. However, sometimes it’s an opportunity to reevaluate whether you’re actually passionate about your career and, if not, pivot in a new direction.

Jim Malone found himself in this position in 2006, after losing his job as a producer of Saturday morning cartoons. Instead of accepting a job he wasn’t excited about, he took a chance and turned lemons into lemonade … or rather, turned reclaimed bowling lane wood into beautiful handmade furniture.

“I found myself looking for something else to do that I could get really excited about.”

Back when Jim was still producing cartoons, he took up woodworking as a hobby. “I had built a really nice countertop out of reclaimed bowling lanes, and it was suggested to me that maybe other people would be interested in something similar, so I put up a Craigslist posting. But making countertops wasn’t exciting enough for me, so I started experimenting with different materials to pair with the bowling lane wood. That’s when I started making furniture.”

So when he found himself out of a job, he decided it was time for a career change. It was risky, but he was excited. “I looked at it as an opportunity to try something where I was in the driver’s seat. I felt pretty strongly about the need to do that at the time.”

“CounterEv just took on a life of its own. That’s when I knew I was doing what I should be doing.”

Jim officially launched CounterEv, his sustainable furniture company, at the Brooklyn Flea and quickly proved that this was what he was meant to do. To date, he’s already furnished popular restaurants such as Shake Shack, Starbucks, and sweetgreen, — not to mention countless homes. “I get friends sending me pictures from all over the country. That’s really satisfying.”

The only problem? Jim wanted to develop new product lines and needed an infusion of capital to carry out his plans. And he, like many other entrepreneurs, was growing increasingly frustrated with traditional banks.

“It’s next to impossible for a small business to get traditional funding from a bank, especially a large bank. I’ve tried and had to go through a whole lot of hoops … it’s always been really time consuming and kind of disheartening. I’d always be offered something completely inadequate for what I was trying to do.”

And if he wanted an SBA loan? Forget about it. “You never have enough time as an entrepreneur to do the things you need to do in a given day or week, much less take on all the paperwork and running around that is required for even just a basic bank loan, let alone something like a SBA loan.”

“I chose Funding Circle because I found the rate attractive … it was kind of a no-brainer.”

Fortunately, Jim ended up finding Funding Circle, and from the first call with his account manager, he could tell that we were different. We pride ourselves on offering white glove service, and take the time to get to know each business that applies. “With Funding Circle, it was more about the business, and not simply about the numbers.”

More than that, Jim loved that Funding Circle was much faster than the traditional banks and offered him an amount that could help him accomplish his dreams — all at a reasonable rate. “Everything was great. I got the funding I requested at a rate that was better than I expected. It wasn’t a long period of jumping through hoops. So overall it was a pleasant surprise and a good experience.”

With the new infusion of capital, Jim is hoping to grow his business exponentially. “We’re using the loan to increase traffic to our website through digital marketing and are developing product lines so we can be a full-range furniture company.

He’s certainly come a long way since building that first countertop back in 2006. But like most small business owners, Jim has the restless need to do more. His next big dream? Opening a storefront in Manhattan.

We have no doubt Jim will succeed. “The funding will keep us growing and help us get to where we’re hoping to be.” And we’re honored to have been able to help.

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