Crisis and Opportunity: The Story of Circl

In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity. —Albert Einstein

A good strategy for navigating difficult times is to focus on the lessons or opportunities that can be found amid the crisis; this certainly rings true for 2020. 2020 will be remembered as the year the COVID-19 pandemic created a global health crisis and brought the world’s largest economies to a halt. Despite the setbacks, it’s also the year Circl was born. As small business owners, our founders Rita and Duncan MacDonald-Korth experienced firsthand how the global pandemic was affecting small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs), leaving them vulnerable to unexpectedly low cash flows and dangerously close to permanent closure. That’s when Rita and Duncan realized they wanted to help. Because they had felt it themselves, they knew that there was a strong sense of kinship among the small business community. They understood that virtually anyone who has ever started or run a business can relate to the inherent struggles, as well as the persistence and ingenuity necessary to overcome them. They believed that navigating COVID-19 as an SMB would be unprecedented, yes, but no less impossible than the many challenges business owners face daily. The small business community is a true community, one that Rita and Duncan knew they could assist by responding to the crisis. But how?

The COVID Loan Tracker

While the government had launched the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) early on to help SMBs weather the COVID-19 storm, Rita and Duncan realized that there was no reliable source of information regarding the loans: who was receiving them, how much they were receiving, how long it took to get approved, or how to navigate the often-confusing process. Bingo. Here’s how they could help! Rita and Duncan then built the COVID Loan Tracker, a community-driven information center supplying self-reported data on business owners’ PPP loan experience, which has since expanded to include more than 50,000 SMBs across all 50 states.


The COVID Loan Tracker proved to be a success; it delivered on its mission to inform entrepreneurs about when and where PPP and EIDL (Economic Injury & Disaster Loan) money was flowing, which was fantastic. But, Rita and Duncan soon realized that the needs of SMBs were much greater. What else could they do to help? After reviewing information self-reported by business leaders, Rita and Duncan saw another opportunity to serve their community. SMBs didn’t just need data, they realized – they also needed tools to help them make sense of that data. They needed tools built for their needs, by an organization equipped to understand and deliver them. And so, Circl – a business health and financial wellness platform bringing big data to small- and medium-size businesses – was born.

Welcome. We’re glad you’re here!