For this week’s Entrepreneur Profile, Elite Daily interviewed Todd Hills: founder and CEO of Pawngo, one of the hottest startups to watch in 2012.A successful business is one that disrupt and innovates an age-old practice. Todd Hills took this notion to heart as challenged the status-quo of lending and pawn industry.
Pawngo started almost one year from today, and since then, the company has facilitated millions upon millions of dollars in transactions. Hills secured funding from some of the most revered VC firms, including backing and support from the founders of Groupon.
The concept of Pawngo literally started from the ground up. When Todd was 17, he got a job at a local pawn shop to help his family make ends meet and quickly moved into a managerial role. By his early twenties he opened his own pawn shop, Jumping Jack Cash, and eventually ended up owning and operating more than 25 traditional pawn shops.
A few years ago, Todd realized that the next stages in the evolution of pawning was to take the industry completely online. His concept was grounded in the fact that an online lending model such as his would give customers quick and easy access to funds with the comfort of anonymity.
In 2009, Todd started a company called Internet Pawn to expand the reach of our unique services. When Todd first entered the online lending space he immediately noticed that the customer demographic he was encountering was entirely different than a traditional pawn shop customer.
In light of the recent economic collapse, most loan applicants were individuals and families who used to be financially secure but had fallen on hard times. They were using luxury assets to secure large scale short-term loans. So his company provides a solution to other entrepreneurs struggling to find financial backing for their venture:
Hills’ story of success is one that all Elite readers must know. It serves as a lesson for innovation, disruption, and the “kick-ass” mentality necessary to succeed in the entrepreneurial world of today. Here is Elite Daily's exclusive interview with the founder of Pawngo, Todd Hills:
What is the founding story of Pawngo? With any startup, it tends to be that the beginningwhere the "kill or be killed" environment is the most interesting.
The pawn shop is one of the oldest forms of lending. What made you transform the traditional brick-and-mortar into a digital platform?
Do you think the rise of mainstream attraction through television shows – such as Pawn Stars or Hardcore Pawn – made pawning seem more accessible for a higher end clientele?
Traditional loaning gives loans based on credit. What caused you to create a business model for Pawngo that relies on tangible assets, such as luxury goods, as collateral for loans?
What was the biggest obstacle you faced before establishing Pawngo among the top startups of 2012?
If you could give a tech startup any advice to hone their business and achieve success, what would it be?
So what’s next for Todd Hills and Pawngo? Any spin-off projects or plans for further development?
So you incorporate loans for small businesses as well – is this a push for to help others like yourself in the tech startup community?
Pawngo is a pioneer in the sense that it is one of the first to really bring personal and business loans to the digital front. Where do you see this aspect of the finance world headed in the future?
Where do you see Pawngo 5, 10, 15 years down the line?
To find out more, or to get your business funded in exchange for collateral, visit pawngo.com.