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Let’s list down all the complicated things in life. Trigonometry. Life Insurance Policies. Equity Market. And Refinancing Home Loans.

Mortgage Refinancing is always associated with finding the best rates & lowest fees, tedious and tiring paperwork as well as too many telephone verification checks from Finance Companies and Banks. The amount of details a homeowner is expected to share with Agents is mind-boggling. Plus, the average time to seal-the-deal, i.e. to start the process of refinancing is generally two months. No wonder homeowners find refinancing a drag and easy way to complicate their lives.

GoRefi is working towards disrupting the traditional way of practicing refinancing offline. They are offering an advanced online platform with real time quote and short online application, along with digital signature and documents upload. Their quick-and-easy business model is helping them offer 0.25% lower interest rate and 30% lesser closing costs . And that too in only 14 days. (Source: CrunchBase)

Jason van den Brand’s, CEO and Co-founder of GoRefi, explains how he and his partner are using their years of experience in the mortgage business to make refinancing home loans a smooth and convenient process.

About the Company

Q: Tell us something about your company GoRefi.

A: GoRefi is changing the way Americans get home loans. The process up to this point has been heavily online-to-offline, confusing, expensive, ugly, and rife with excessive paperwork – and we’re hell-bent on making it easy, transparent, and less expensive, all on a beautifully designed interface.

Q: Every Startup starts with an interesting story. What is yours?jason_vandenbrand_photo

A: The idea came in 2011 when I was working with a client and like most mortgages at the time (and for most people to this day), the interview process and rate quote process was over the phone. Telling the client everything he needed and following up with a check-list by email, the client responded to the email with all necessary documents – a “perfect package” as it’s called. I forwarded the email to the processor whom handles the paperwork, and over the next 3 weeks sent a total of 3 emails to the client. A month later our company made $8,500 on that loan (it was a big loan) and I thought that that was just terrible given how little work I had actually done.

Those “perfect packages” make up over 75% of the US lending market, so I knew that the opportunity to build a seamless transaction management system that automated the process would help us offer far more competitive rates with much lower margins to help homeowners save more on their largest investment. I set out immediately to begin mocking up ideas, created a lean business plan, and building the right team to execute and GoRefi was born.

Q: How do you make sure that GoRefi’s step-by-step process of refinancing is  smooth, easy and up-to-date?

A: Our process has been tested over and over again with each client. We’re constantly iterating to make the flow easier and more transparent, and always asking for feedback. Each client we work with, we try to schedule a phone call afterward to really dig in on feedback and find out why they chose us, if they’d recommend us, and if not, what we could do to make their experience better.

Q: What are your strengths?

A: Our greatest strength right now is the speed at which we can move. Our competitors are giant organization that take months if not years to release key features that may benefit their clients. We can do the same, often times in less than a weekend.

Making GoRefi a Brandceo-gerofi

Q: What is the USP of GoRefi?

A: Complete your home loan online from start to finish at half the cost, without telemarketing and excessive paperwork.

Q: Who are your target audience and how did you reach them?

A: Though we currently are running a pilot in California only, our target market is the 7+ million homeowners who refinance or buy their homes every year. The vast majority of homeowners (and increasing) begin their mortgage search online so that is where we market to find them. The problem lies in the fact that once those that find other mortgage lenders online, the process then moves offline, creating a firestorm of telemarketing calls and paperwork. We remove most of that pain through smart online solutions that eliminate the calls and most of the paperwork.

Q: Being the startup, how did you go about generating as well as increasing brand awareness of GoRefi?

A: Brand takes time. I remember hiring a designer to create our logo and he said, “y’know Jason, whatever I make for you will not make your company great. Companies make logos great, not the other way around.” The same is true for brand. Do the little things great every single day for 10 years and suddenly you’re an overnight success.

Q: How do you differentiate yourself from the competitors and other lending companies?

A: We’ve been fortunate in that we weren’t forced to follow the status quo of how to build a lending company. That model, which is dependent on loan officers to source business, follow-up with clients, and ultimately, “sell the deal” is outdated and has driven homeowners to fear. We put technology first so that we can better serve our customers through seamless interfaces that make sense the first time.


Pitching and Cracking 500 Startups

Q: Congratulations for making it to the Accelerator Program of 500 Startups. We are keen to know about how you made it to the top 29 companies of Batch 9.

A: Thanks, we’re honored to be a part of this amazing group of entrepreneurs and being surrounded with such talent every day is a true inspiration. The easiest way to learn about how we got in is to check out the blog article to help other entrepreneurs. Essentially, our acceptance is a nice mix of hustle, traction, and creativity.

Q: During the pitching process, what hardships and problems did you face, and how did you tackle them? And what did you learn from it?

A: I actually struggle pitching, which is something I work on constantly. What I’ve learned thus far (and I definitely have a long, long way to go) is that turning off the self-aware lens is the key. Nobody cares about you, they care about your message. If you’re passionate about your business, and can talk freely and knowledgeably about its market and potential, people will understand. They do not care what sneakers you are wearing, so get your focus right and the rest will follow.lenda-700-350

Q: Is there any interesting story/ event you would like to share with us?

A: We’re rebranding to Lenda so there is no confusion that we also handle the purchase market as well. We expect that to happen by the end of May.

Q: Now what is the next step in 500 Startups, and how do you plan to go with it?

A: We’re currently hiring two key employees, a back-end developer and a content marketer. Being excited about this potential for the growth of our company would be an understatement. Also, meeting with investors on a more frequent basis as we approach demo day at the end of July.


Word of Advice

Q: What are your future plans for the company?

A: We envision every homeowner or homeowner-to-be visiting our site to begin and complete their home loan transaction.

Q: What is the word of advice you would like to give to Startups who one day aspire to be where GoRefi is today?

A: There’s tons, but the one that always comes to my mind came from a fortune cookie. It said, “there is no substitute for hard work.”



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