Meet the 30X30: Marc-Antoine Caya is Democratizing Access to Capital Through goPeer
Our sixth annual Bay Street Bull 30X30 guide showcases a group of incredible individuals who are redefining the way we do business, championing their communities, and cultivating entirely new industries. From tech and environmental pioneers to cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and media trailblazers, each of this year’s inductees is challenging Canadians to think (and work) differently for a brighter future.
In our series of one-on-one interviews, get to know each honouree a little better: their values, mission, lessons learned, and best advice.
CEO and co-founder, goPeer
What is your elevator pitch to the world?
Marc-Antoine Caya: I’m Marc, CEO and co-founder of goPeer. We assist everyday investors in gaining access to investments that were previously only available to large banks and institutional investors and help borrowers by providing them quick access to capital with competitive interest rates and repayment terms.
What excites you most about the work that you are doing?
Marc-Antoine Caya: The most exciting aspect of work is creating something new for Canadians, bringing investment vehicles for everyday investors that were previously only available to institutions, and knowing that those investments have been performing well since inception. We also offer borrowers fair alternative options that would not otherwise exist, the combination of a good return, fairness for all, and social impact is exciting.
Where do you think you have made the most impact in your community?
Marc-Antoine Caya: We have made the most impact by making innovative alternative asset classes and high-yield fixed-income investments available to all investors. Fixed income has been around for 100 years, but has been out of reach for the average investor. We are fundamentally altering the exempt market industry in order to make it affordable and accessible to all.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about peer-to-peer lending?
Marc-Antoine Caya: People assume that subprime borrowers on peer-to-peer lending platforms are at risk, but in reality, goPeer platform users have high income and good credit scores, but they don’t always pay off their full credit card balances every month.
How do you address any initial hesitancy that users may have when they contemplate using a peer-to-peer lending platform?
Marc-Antoine Caya: Investors are hesitant to invest large sums, but goPeer has no minimum investment requirement. Investors can begin with a minimum of $10 and study the returns on the platform. We recommend that investors diversify their investment portfolio by investing a small amount in as many loans as possible.
Why has there never been a better time than now for a company like yours to come to fruition?
Marc-Antoine Caya: Portfolio diversification is the primary value proposition that we provide to our investors on the platform. The assets we offer have a low correlation to stocks and crypto, and right now there is a lot of volatility in the stock market. There has never been a better or more important time to build a diversified investment portfolio, and moreover, goPeer’s investments have shown over 10% in annualized returns. With all the volatility in the market right now, platforms like goPeer add value to capital markets participants.
What is your philosophy around problem-solving with respect to your industry? How do you like to approach problems and solutions?
Marc-Antoine Caya: Because start-ups in the financial sector cannot do as much trial and error as start-ups in other industries, we follow a planned approach. We plan, document, and ensure that whatever work we do is within the boundaries of the regulatory environment that protects the capital markets. So, whenever we want to try something new, we take a step back and look at the regulatory and compliance implications. Typically, we consider what we want to achieve and then devise innovative solutions to our problems. Moving forward, we also consider how others have solved similar problems in the past and whether there are any other solutions that we can use to approach the problems.
Where do you see the future of peer-to-peer lending and digital financial technology going? What excites you most about the future?
Marc-Antoine Caya: In the future, peer-to-peer lending will expand into new areas. We are already seeing various analogous platforms democratize more and more asset classes and asset types, ranging from real estate crowdfunding to equity crowdfunding; these asset classes were difficult to access as an investment asset class, and it would be exciting to see if similar cash-flow generating assets become available to everyday investors in the future. We have seen a massive trend in millennial investors investing independently since the beginning of the pandemic, and the new assets on our platform can help them manage their investments.
How has the word “impact” manifested in your work?
Marc-Antoine Caya: One thing that resonates not only with the goPeer team but also with the goPeer community is that we are here to help people achieve financial well-being, and this comes full circle when we help borrowers refinance and consolidate loans into one single lower repayment and help them get out of debt; once out of debt, they can become investors themselves on our platform and help others do the same.
What is one lesson that you hope people will learn or walk away from your work?
Marc-Antoine Caya: Everything is possible and don’t be intimidated by highly regulated environments; the laws are in place to protect people and it can be daunting to innovate in a highly regulated space at times, but everything is achievable.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur? Your biggest milestone?
Marc-Antoine Caya: The proudest moment as an entrepreneur was when we saw the appetite for our product growing month after month; we sold over a million dollars in a few months and currently are at 10 million dollars. Just after 18 months, we are meeting demand and adding significant value; investors are earning double-digit net returns, and using technology, we provide high-value alternative loan options to borrowers. This is a win-win situation. The milestones that I am most proud of were when we received our Exempt Market Dealer license and launched the goPeer platform to the public.
Why does your work matter?
Marc-Antoine Caya: Personal finance is critical for everyone, but there is a lack of financial literacy. My work is important because there are a lot of peddlers out there who will sell you products that aren’t right for you just to make a commission, and they will harass you into refinancing your loan for a commission. We want to help people become more financially literate so that they can evaluate options not only when borrowing but also when investing.
What have you learned about yourself as you’ve built your company and raised your voice?
Marc-Antoine Caya: Since we launched this company I have grown a lot as a leader. Initially, it was only my co-founder Joseph Buaron and myself. Today the team has grown significantly. Managing many people has been rewarding but with no one to tell you what to do or how to do it you have to figure things out on your own and sort things out quickly.
What is a major career goal that you have set your sights on and hope to accomplish in 2022?
Marc-Antoine Caya: We want to raise capital to fund our expansion. Our products are in high demand, and we plan to launch a few new products by the end of 2022.