Shaheen touts vets in small business Senator visits SilverCloud in Portsmouth
PORTSMOUTH - U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., marked the beginning of National Veterans Small Business Week with a visit Monday to SilverCloud, a Portsmouth technology company owned by a former Navy pilot.
William Hoyt, who served eight years during the Vietnam War and flew combat missions from the aircraft carrier USS Midway, is chairman of SilverCloud, which provides cloud-based products and services to financial institutions.
Shaheen noted that as a result of her work as ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee the U.S. Small Business Admin-istration recently waived the fees it was charging veterans who applied for a loan.
"I think it's important because veterans are 45 percent more likely to start their own businesses," said Shaheen. The senator was also instrumental in a Senate-passed resolution designating the first week of November as National Veterans Small Business Week.
"Many veterans are applying the same can-do approach they used in the military to start and grow their own small businesses," said Shaheen.
"These veteran entrepreneurs should be recognized, not only for their selfless service protecting our country, but for the many ways they are strengthening our economy. It's appropriate that we set aside time as a nation to honor our veteran small business owners and I’m glad the Senate has unanimously approved this resolution."
Hoyt and SilverCloud chief executive officer Scott Cornell hosted Shaheen during her hour-long visit to the company, located in downtown Portsmouth at 3 Pleasant Street.
Hoyt said the company has received two SBA 7(a) loans through the Provident Bank in Portsmouth, one to help expand its workforce, the other to engage Vital Design of Portsmouth in a marketing campaign.
"When it comes to financing for small business, without the SBA it’s difficult," said Hoyt, noting that technology companies, especially one like his that offers cloud software and serves, don’t have a lot of the hard equipment-based collateral required by most banks to get a business loan. "The SBA makes it so much easier to get financing, and the vet thing makes it that much nicer."
Hoyt, a New London, N.H., native who left the Navy after eight years to get an MBA from Dartmouth College, is majority owner of the company that offers cloud-based customer service tools to about 200 banks and credit unions nationwide and in Canada, including several in the Granite State.
One SilverCloud application – Breeze – is for customers who search online for answers to questions or for information on a variety of subjects, from auto loan interest rates, to information about starting an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to resetting their ATM pin.
The other SilverCloud application – Compass – gives financial institution employees in a branch or in a call center access to constantly updated information about products and services. "The employee types in a question and immediately gets what they need," said Cornell.
He said the software that SilverCloud provides, along with the support services it offers, helps banks and credit unions operate more efficiently and keeps customers engaged with information.
The products are subscription based, with the institutions paying a monthly or annual fee to SilverCloud.
Al Rosenbaum, executive vice president of sales and marketing, cited the example of a customer who queries online about a car loan and current interest rates. Not only does the customer get the information about interest rates, he/she gets additional content offering advice on the car-buying process.
"It’s all about keeping them engaged," said Rosenbaum.
The company has been located in Portsmouth for two years.
Prior to that, according to Cornell, it was a virtual company with no brick and mortar office.
"What a difference it is to pull everybody together," he said, noting that they have the ability to expand from their current space on the third floor to additional space on the second floor at 3 Pleasant Street.
He said the company purposely located in Portsmouth to draw from region’s pool of technology workers, including interns from local colleges, whom Cornell described as "the farm team."
"It’s very easy to pull people here," said Cornell. "Our intention is to expand and pull even more people here."