Newhouse School instrumental in expansion of multibillion-dollar economic development initiative

September 19, 2018

Multibillion-dollar economic development initiatives originally launched in 2014 and 2015 with the assistance of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University are now helping over 50,000 startups, small businesses, nonprofits and community development organizations expand nationwide by speeding up the financing application process and matching them with the best community funding sources for their particular circumstances and stage of growth.

Photo of Newhouse students with Michael Short
Newhouse students with Michael Short

The national economic development initiatives, first recognized in 2014 by The Huffington Post, have evolved over several years into what is now a cloud-based information and financial technology (“FinTech”) venture known as thanks to the early support of over 100 Newhouse students and faculty, Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Le Moyne College’s Madden School of Business, the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College School of Business and a national network of university, foundation and banking partners. was founded by award-winning technology entrepreneur and Newhouse alumnus W. Michael Short '10 and is supported by a growing leadership team that includes SU alumni Sara Brainard '09 and Brian Cronin '10. The company was featured by Forbes as an Editors’ Pick for leveling the playing field for small businesses, highlighted for economic and community impact at the White House, compared with Amazon as a marketplace for business finance on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and noted for socially responsible “FinTech Innovation” in the Business & Management Review.

photo of students in class
Short speaking to a class of Newhouse students is the only online platform providing a software as a service (SaaS) connecting entrepreneurs, startups, businesses, nonprofits and community development organizations with the Responsible Finance Network™, which includes all of the 14,323 community banks, credit unions, non-profit lenders and community development financial institutions in the United States.

Using advanced matchmaking algorithms and artificial intelligence, the platform speeds up the business financing search and application process and provides a trusted and transparent alternative to the growing number of predatory online lenders and brokers that are plaguing the nation's businesses with hidden fees, astronomical rates, misleading information and hindering broader economic growth, job creation and business development nationally.

“ makes economics and finance interesting, fun and understandable [and it] offers entrepreneurs an array of funding options so they can avoid online predatory lenders,” says Joe Connolly, host of News Radio WCBS 880 Small Business Spotlight, who described the university, foundation and investor-backed platform as “a dating service for entrepreneurs looking for funding” and compared it with popular dating application Tinder, which is operated along with by the $12 billion publicly traded Match Group, Inc.

Photo of Michael Short on Small Business Spotlight
Short on "Small Business Spotlight"

One of the many entrepreneurs benefiting from the  matchmaking platform is Ashley Warmington of Brooklyn, New York, founder of award-winning tech company Cozy Oasis and recent graduate of Medgar Evers College School of Business where currently operates a field office.

The funding secured with the help of helped Ashley expand her company and create jobs in her local community, and now her tech company is the top ranked AirBnB property management company in New York City.

“Searching for financing to grow my company took a lot of time away from my business and each lender handed me a big stack of application forms,” says Warmington. “ matched me with the right funding from the most trusted source on the first attempt, which saved significant time and money.”

This challenge of finding the right lender is experienced by nearly all entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits in the U.S.—especially in historically underserved communities.

Photo of Ashley Warmington
Ashley Warmington

On average, businesses spend over 100 hours on loan applications without knowing if they are applying to a lender that actually matches their particular circumstances. As a result, roughly 8,000 business loan applications are declined in the U.S. every single day, which economists describe as a “massive market failure.”

“Entrepreneurs and small businesses face significant barriers in accessing the financing needed to grow and create jobs especially in underserved communities,” says Jo-Ann Rolle, dean of the School of Business at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York. “This is a reality we contend with on a daily basis while supporting entrepreneurs both on campus and in the community, and our work with is designed to streamline that process in order to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs."

To address this challenge, is providing platform access to several thousand chambers of commerce, small business development centers (SBDCs), economic development organizations and community colleges so that they will be able to help entrepreneurs, businesses and nonprofits identify funding options on an ongoing basis through complimentary accounts provided by

Photo of Michael Short with his grandfather
Short and his grandfather

“The Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, was so crucial in helping me launch and grow several ventures, including, and I’m thankful for the support provided over the years by the center and its incredible director, Joan Powers,” says founder W. Michael Short. “Now we are able to return the favor by providing access to our platform to entrepreneurs, businesses and nonprofits in order to support communities and economic development nationwide.”

This motivation, to support communities and hard-working entrepreneurs throughout the country, is what inspired Short to build 

When asked where this motivation comes from, Short credits a strong generational tradition of community service in his family, and his grandfather in particular.

“Like his father and grandfather before him, my grandfather served as both the family physician for a small rural community in Upstate New York and also as the president of the local community bank,” explains Short. “He was a very important mentor in my life and he passed down the wisdom of three generations of community bank presidents, including the dangers of predatory lending and the importance of community banks to the economic health of our nation’s communities.”