Nathan C. Popkins (1979-2017)

It’s with a collective heavy heart that we announce the unexpected death of our Founder and CEO, Nathan Popkins. Nathan passed away as the result of injuries sustained in an accident at home on July 30, 2017.

We are so incredibly thankful for his vision - to bring true innovation into the consumer lending market by offering a more flexible product for people who need a way to improve their financial situation. As a team, although we are shaken tremendously by this loss, we are working together to carry on Nathan’s vision and as a team we will ensure Align Income Share Funding continues to flourish, not just for Nathan, but for people throughout the country who are looking for a financial lifeline.

Nathan started the company (then known as Cumulus Funding) in 2011 after spending a decade as an investment banker with a particular focus on specialty finance. He saw Income Share Agreements being used in the education space and noticed that the product was more forgiving than a traditional personal loan, and he realized that the mature American consumer would also benefit materially from this structure. With that realization in mind, he left his banking job and rented office space, built a team, and got to work on creating the first company to offer ISAs to the masses.

Nathan (and his small team) funded the first contract in 2012, to a single mom about to get married who was looking to pay off debt to improve her credit so she wouldn’t be a drag on her new husband’s score. The money for this first ISA came from Nathan’s personal bank account.

Nathan truly believed that each ISA was an investment in an individual, and as a man who always saw the best of each person, he was proud to offer each of his customers a shot at financial betterment.

Under his leadership, Align continued to grow and flourish, deploying millions of dollars into ISAs (the largest such portfolio in the country!), and nabbing top tier investment partners. He was incredibly proud of the team that he built (although he was remiss to take too much credit for it).

It was obvious to all that knew Nathan that he was special. Not only was he unrelentingly inquisitive and astonishingly intelligent, but he was genuinely kind. All of us who were fortunate enough to work with him experienced his myriad kindnesses on a daily basis. He treated each Align teammate like an equal, listening intently to feedback from everyone and making sure each person had what they needed to be successful, and happy.

We at Align will continue to press on, to give the general public access to capital using a more flexible and friendly product, even when others won’t. We have inherited Nathan’s vision, that each person deserves trust and an investment in a better financial future.

To see Nathan’s perspective on the company, check out the video and audio clips below.

In Crain’s Chicago Business

On KOB TV

On WGN Radio