After jobs with Barclays, Lloyds, and DHL, Daryl Hudson developed expertise in three areas: international trade finance, risk mitigation, and international logistics. At Curve Commercial Services, he combined that trio into a company that assists businesses with limited liquidity--but huge potential for revenue--to achieve scale without taking on debt or private equity. The strategy is helping his company scale up too. Curve landed at No. 232 on this year's Inc. 5000, with 2014 revenue of $57.8 million, which grew 1,896 percent since 2011. He talked about the importance of diversifying, working around conservative banks, and sending revenues skyward.
--As told to Noah Davis
I started at Barclays and I learned how the cost of product could go up or down depending on currency fluctuation. It could be three or four months between a company getting a product and paying for it. I moved to Lloyd's where I learned to mitigate risk, and after that to DHL, where I learned logistics. At DHL, I created a product called Cash Forwarding, which was like freight forwarding. I was traveling the world, working with factories abroad and working with buyers in in the U.S. This helped me get the idea for Curve. I wanted it to be the PayPal for the commercial sector, focusing on transactions greater than $250,000. We work with companies that are doing $10 million in revenue, which I expected, but also with companies that have up to $500 million in revenue, which was a surprise.
Curve started by supplying credit to companies in the retail supply space. For example, we'd give a line of credit to an Asian company so the company could get its products to U.S. retailers. We got our first mobile phone client, and then grew that vertical to have several companies. We moved to the aviation business, which has been very successful, and also the specialty apparel industry: school uniforms, Major League Baseball, and others. We don't have a concentration of risk in any industry, client, or product.
Today, my market is a client who does not have the liquidity to fulfill the orders but has a bank in place to mitigate my risk. The established company needing inventory has the ability to pay Curve from its current and demonstrated cash flow cycle or its current lending arrangements, or it refers its customers to Curve to pay directly on sold and invoiced orders. I offer a package where we create a line of credit for 5 to 8 percent of revenue that companies can use to purchase products through us. Much like PayPal, which pays the supplier and debits the buyer, I position myself between the client and the vendor. I purchase the goods on the client's behalf creating a receivable on my books.
For example, one of our clients that provides big companies like GameStop and Walmart with seasonal games had a long-term relationship with BB&T. The bank has line of credit for the client for $8 million, but the bank will lend only against receivables and a portion of inventory, so the company couldn't get any more financing. BB&T came to us and said the company had a very large order from GameStop for a new game that they had to get to market. The company's business could double in revenue next year. But banks are reactive. They can provide revenue only after the goods are sold when you create a receivable. We make it simple. I buy the product, sell it to the client, bring the good in, and the bank is then comfortable with the receivable that is generated by the debtor--in this case GameStop. They fund against the invoice.
I called the company Curve because we help a company's revenue go up in a curve.