Fintech Leaders
Fintech Leaders
Denise Thomas, CEO of ApplePie Capital – Building a Franchise Loan Marketplace & The Surprising Impact of Tech Layoffs On Franchising

Denise Thomas, CEO of ApplePie Capital – Building a Franchise Loan Marketplace & The Surprising Impact of Tech Layoffs On Franchising

Miguel Armaza sits down with Denise Thomas, CEO & Co-Founder of ApplePie Capital, a company that has provided billions of dollars in franchise financing to business owners.

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In this episode, I sit down with Denise Thomas, CEO & Co-Founder of ApplePie Capital, a company that offers franchise financing, enabling franchisees to efficiently obtain financing to start or expand their franchise business, while also enabling investors to earn fixed-income returns.

Launched in 2015, ApplePie partners with 60 franchise brands and has facilitated the funding of billions in franchise loans. They’ve also raised capital from QED, Fifth Third Capital, Story Ventures, and more.

In this episode, we discuss:

History of franchising and the main differences between running and financing an independent business vs running a franchise

“The layoffs that have happened in the country… that's actually good for franchising, because it brings in more people to own businesses. They'll take their savings, and they'll use that with the leverage of their assets, and they'll go purchase a license to own a franchise. That's very common.”

The franchise sector is significant in the US economy, driving 3% of GDP and providing jobs to 1 in 12 working Americans. But despite the sector’s relevance, Denise spotted key financing challenges for franchise owners who traditionally have had limited financing sources, mostly comprised of friends and family, personal savings, IRA funds, and SBA loans. Banks are reluctant to offer conventional loans to brands under $5 million in size, which created an interesting opening for ApplePie Capital to offer a differentiated and smaller product, offering financing for franchises ranging from $100k to $5 million.

Why your company strategy should always match your possibilities

“Well, your strategy always has to change if the circumstances have changed... in a time like this, it's much more of pounding the street. Whereas before, it would have been a little bit more selective and strategic, I think you have to just do the numbers game in a market like this.”


How ApplePie has learned to partner with strong franchise brands and their franchisees and leverage their relationship to reduce Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)

“There's a strong relationship between the franchisor and the franchisee. They're an interdependent relationship and good brands know how to take care of their franchisees.”

There is an interdependent relationship between franchisors and franchisees, and Denise has learned the balance to work with both sides. Good brands take care of their franchisees, and ApplePie Capital treats this as a business development path and integrates its offering as part of the overall package of recommendations provided to new franchise unit owners by the brands.

Learnings from some of the most significant challenges ApplePie has faced over the last several years… and a lot more!

“What's always been a challenge for most alternative lenders in FinTech is matching supply and demand. Having enough money at the time you have the demand. Ratcheting your demand to match your capital. That's always the tension that's in the business.”

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Miguel Armaza is Co-Founder & Managing General Partner of Gilgamesh Ventures, a seed-stage investment fund focused on fintech in the Americas. He also hosts and writes the Fintech Leaders podcast and newsletter.

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Fintech Leaders
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