UPDATED: B.C. fintech Progressa names new CEO as co-founder departs

Nathan Slee takes over as CEO of Progressa from co-founder Ali Pourdad

What happened: Progressa co-founder Ali Pourdad is departing the alternative lender while senior adviser Nathan Slee takes over as CEO

Why it matters: Pourdad previously said his goal was to take the financial technology company public by the end of 2019

A new chief executive is taking the helm at Vancouver-based fintech Progressa in the wake of its co-founder’s departure.

New CEO Nathan Slee previously served as a senior adviser to the firm known for lending capital to non-prime consumers.

Last week the company laid off 35 workers, according to a source who did not wish to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The source also told Business in Vancouver that the company recently hit the pause button on its point of sales lending business to focus on its core debt consolidation lending business.

Slee later told BIV the number of lay-offs totalled 26.

He takes over from co-founder Ali Pourdad, who announced his departure in a LinkedIn post.

“Today I want to share with my network that I have made a difficult but important decision to step down as CEO of Progressa,” Pourdad wrote September 3.

“When we co-founded Progressa in 2013, Michael Jover and I did everything; from adjudicating the loans to the collections calls ourselves, all from our little four-man office in Fairview. Little did we think the business would grow like it has to be now ranked the fourth fastest-growing company in B.C. by revenue growth, total funding of $120 million of consumer loans; and we've employed hundreds in Vancouver and Toronto.”

While Pourdad has given up the CEO title, he remains on the company’s board of directors.

Ali Pourdad
Progressa CEO Ali Pourdad | Photo: Twitter

The exit comes almost exactly a year after Progressa announced it had raised $84 million in an equity and loan funding round co-led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. and Gravitas Securities Inc.

Pourdad told BIV at the time that his goal was to take the company public by the end of 2019 if market conditions held steady.

Slee, meanwhile, has prior experience in the alternative lending market having co-founded Credilogic when he was 24 years old.

He later sold that startup to Kansas-based QC Holdings in 2011 for $12 million.

Updated (September 3, 12:55 p.m. PT) with information regarding layoffs and changes to business strategy.

Updated (September 4, 8:20 a.m. PT) with Slee's updated comments on the layoffs.