Interview conducted via email and edited by Jana Eisenberg
Excelsior Growth Fund is one of the many resources in the region to help small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, and others get access to capital, plus other types of business assistance. UpstartNY is happy to introduce (or reintroduce) Excelsior Growth Fund to our readers, to remind you of the great opportunities to take advantage of.
We spoke with Sherri Falck, an assistant vice president with Excelsior Growth Fund. Falck assists entrepreneurs across Western and Central New York with a special focus on women, veteran, and minority business owners. She works with each client to find the right financing product and also provides them with a tailored path to help meet their business needs.Sherri Falck, assistant vice president of Excelsior Growth Fund.
Falck has served on the selection committees for several competitions including Ureeka Small Business Pitch (2019), Ignite Buffalo (2018), and The Pitch (2016-2017). She is the board vice president at Working for Downtown, which among other efforts partners with Buffalo Urban Development Corporation and Buffalo Place in the Queen City Pop-Up Program, designed to attract businesses to downtown Buffalo.
UpstartNY: What does Excelsior Growth Fund do?
Sherri Falck: Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) provides business owners with affordable loans and resources so that they can reach higher, transform, and grow. Our signature loan product is the SmartLoan, which provides $10,000 to $100,000 in funding in a little as five business days. We also provide access to larger loans and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA loans) through our affiliates, New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) and The 504 Company.
EGF’s support doesn’t stop with just a loan—we also provide borrowers with access to free business advisory services. These services can include bookkeeping guidance, QuickBooks training, marketing help, website design and development, and more.
UNY: Excelsior Growth Fund is rebranding as Pursuit later this year. Tell us about that change and why it’s important for small business owners.
SF: EGF has a rich history of working with our affiliate organizations to provide access to a wide range of loan products in Western New York and beyond. Along with NYBDC and The 504 Company, we are rebranding as Pursuit to streamline access to these loan programs. While each affiliate company will operate as it always has, Pursuit creates a single portal for business owners to access our entire product set. Our full suite of products ranges from microloans (starting at $10,000) to SBA loans of up to $5,500,000 for just about any business financing need, including working capital, debt refinancing, equipment purchase, leasehold improvement, and/or real estate purchase.
We’re also rebranding to better reflect our mission of serving small business owners. The new brand will capture the experience of running a small business—pursuing goals, chasing dreams, and creating opportunity. It’s exciting!
UNY: How does EGF/Pursuit differ from other lenders or sources of capital for small businesses?
SF: Our mission guides our lending. When a business works with us, they have access to a community-focused lender who is 100% invested in providing the best possible loan for your business both now, and in the future. Our approaches balances speed with responsibility to ensure that our clients are provided a loan with fair rates and affordable terms.
UNY: What enables Excelsior Growth Fund to offer affordable products, and be so flexible?
SF: As a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), it’s our mission and priority to help businesses grow. We leverage a number of grants and government programs to offer targeted products to veteran, women, and minority business owners.
UNY: When working with companies that may not have as much experience as others, how else do you help them/what other services do you provide?
SF: Our business advisory services are designed to support clients beyond their loan. Through our Consulting Corps, our clients have access to a team of expert consultants to help them address their business needs. The goals are to help them grow and create jobs in their local community, while also helping them “level up” to the point where they qualify for traditional bank financing.