George Popescu is the Founder and CEO of Lending Times. The online publication was founded in January of 2016 with the goal of bringing peer-to-peer (“P2P”)—aka marketplace lending news—analysis, and data to its niche group of readers. Lending Times is Popescu’s latest venture, with his resume boasting upwards of 10 founding positions for profitable businesses. George originates from Romania and relocated to Paris in his early years. After receiving two master degrees in France, George relocated to Boston in 2003 to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his third masters degree. His vast formal education spans electrical engineering, computer science, 3D printing, and nanosciences—so how did he switch paths to become a serial entrepreneur, investor and fintech expert?
One of Popescu’s most notable business endeavors is Boston Technologies, bootstrapped in 2007 and grown to a $20 million dollar business, garnering attention from Inc. magazine as one of the top 500 fastest-growing private companies worldwide. George sold Boston Technologies in 2014, making room for many other ventures. We had a sit-down lunch with the scientist-turned-serial-entrepreneur to learn about what he attributes this success to.
Sharestates’ Interview With George Popescu
Sharestates: You’ve had quite the impressive track record. To start, how did Boston Technologies come about?
George Popescu: Well, I was interning and making student wages, and my girlfriend at the time made a deal with me. We agreed that if she grew her hair out, I would take her to Paris for vacation to see my parents. I had no money whatsoever.
Sharestates: Where were you living at the time?
George Popescu: Boston. This was 2007 and I was finishing my masters at MIT for 3D Printing. So I made this deal and she grew her hair, and I had to find the money for two plane tickets. I put an ad on Craigslist (“MIT grad student who will do work for money”), and one company responded offering to pay me three times what I was then making to do IT work for their office. The company was a foreign exchange brokerage called Tradex Swiss. On my first day, they had a problem with their trading platform. I had no idea how to fix this so I used Google and then called the manufacturer of the trading platform in Russia. I eventually figured out that the spikes in the platform were resulting from an in-house user interference.
Sharestates: How did you figure that out so quickly when the brokerage company could not?
George Popescu: It was research, like in a lab; I had to figure it out by asking questions and using trial and error. They were very impressed. So then they asked me to build a bridge from their platform API to the bank API. I had no idea what they were talking about, so I went back to Craigslist and found a developer who could solve the problem. I created a contract with him where I paid him per milestone and I kept the intellectual properties. Therefore, I was taking no risk. After building this bridge and selling it to a few clients, I realized there was a potential market for this. I presented the add-on to the Russian manufacturers and went into business.
Sharestates: It seems like you just fell into fintech, is that the case?
George Popescu: Yes, it picked me, I didn’t pick it.
Sharestates: Well maybe you owe that girlfriend something for the motivation.
George Popescu: (laughing) Yes, yes I do.
Sharestates: What caused you sell BT while it was doing so well?
George Popescu: The currency business is non-stop from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. I was exhausted, so I sold it. The main value was in the business development and marketing of the company according to the buyer. So I was glad it had value to sell.
Sharestates: What did you think you would be doing now instead?
George Popescu: Well, I don’t know. Teaching at a University and being able to afford a BMW by 40. My father was a professor; all I knew was academia. One of my professors at MIT told me “you’re made for business, get out of here.” I was mad for two days, but he was so right.
Sharestates: What do you want to do next?
George Popescu: I love to travel; I want to travel more with Lending Times. I love New York, the diversity and culture, and the fact that you can walk everywhere. But to live here one needs a very large income. I co-founded a brewery last year. Down the Road Brewery was founded in February of 2015. I brought that from 0–40k a month in revenue and then sold my shares in December 2015. I actually loved making beer, but the head brewer wanted to be the sole owner and I had so many other opportunities that I agreed to move on. I think I want to live on a vineyard and travel back to New York often.
George’s startup career began when Tradex Swiss presented him with the famous bridge problem in March of 2007, leading to Boston Technologies starting that April. Boston Technologies later went on to support some of the largest foreign exchanges like MF Global, FXCM, and Citibank, to name a few. Part of Boston Technologies’ success was having its headquarters in Boston, yet hiring someone to work with international companies specifically to cover time zone changes and provide around-the-clock service.
Lending Times was founded in January of 2016. George is also a co-founder of BackedInc.com, a fintech company that lends capital to younger borrowers. George founded BT Prime in April 2010, and Steam Sport Car Rentals in February 2010.
You can reach out to George here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in learning more about marketplace lending? Join George’s Meetup group! (His next event is Thursday, June 9)
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