Thursday, May 17, 2018
Brooklyn, N.Y.' s William Vale Hotel was the setting for Broker Fair 2018, held May 14, 2018, the first conference of its kind for merchant cash advance (MCA) professionals and unsecured small business lenders. Educational sessions, panel discussions and keynote addresses covered a range of topics, from marketing and SEO optimization to syndication, software demonstrations, regulatory issues and business development strategies.
In his opening remarks, Broker Fair founder Sean Murray, chief editor and publisher of deBanked, recalled attending numerous conferences that covered algorithms, factoring and traditional lending in depth but sidelined MCA topics. "I felt disappointed that there was no conference for this industry segment," he said. "I asked event organizers, why not include more than one panel on MCA? A lot of them said they didn't think people would be interested."
Broker Fair sold out days after being announced, proving this industry is the real thing and will be here for a long time, Murray noted. "Brokers facilitate billions of dollars in small business funding each year in this tech-enabled, but not tech-only industry," he added. "We want to give brokers tools and resources to carry out their jobs, foster connections and bottom line, get more quality deals funded."
Another conference highlight for conference attendees was having the opportunity to meet individuals in their business networks. "So much of our work is done remotely," said Isaac Stern, CEO at Yellowstone Capital and chairman and board member of the Commercial Finance Coalition. "It's exciting to personally meet so many brokers and funders who have worked closely with us for so many years."
Darren Schulman, president at 6th Avenue Capital, enjoyed the rooftop speed networking event. Brokers spent two minutes at each table, without having to worry about breaking up a conversation and without talking about deals. This is a relationship business, he said, and we want to treat our brokers and their merchants in the best possible way. "It was like speed dating," he added. "Brokers had an opportunity to give their elevator pitch and get face to face with people they speak with every day on the phone. Brokers could walk around and meet the funders."
Noting Broker Fair's "big show vibe," Schulman said the venue didn't feel like a first-time event. "It filled a void in the industry and it seemed like they have been doing this conference for years," he said. "Sean made everyone feel welcome. Even with so many people, he found a way to personally connect and say, hi, what' s going on?"
"If you're meeting me for the first time, then you should know one fact about myself, that I was a broker once too," Murray wrote in Letter from the Founder. "I know what it's like to pound the phones, close a deal, and navigate the competitive landscape of getting a deal funded."
Schulman said Broker Fair's agenda balanced high-level keynotes, such as Industry State of the Union, with down-to-earth advice like Be a Better Closer and Underwriting 101. "Legal and software experts shared how to increase business; Ryan Serhant, from Bravo' s Million Dollar Listing, shared how to close sales," he said. "If you didn't learn things, you weren't listening."
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