“I love building new things, and I love bringing financial understanding and decision-making to the consumer,” says Sindeo’s chief technology officer. “It’s hard for me to choose between the two.”

Andy Carra is chief technology officer at Sindeo.

Time at current company: 6 months

Describe what you do in one sentence: I create technology to help prospective borrowers find, understand and get the best mortgage possible.

Age: 39

Degree, school: Master of Science, University of Michigan; Bachelor of Arts, Kalamazoo College

Location: San Francisco

Social media: LinkedIn 

I lead the technology group at Sindeo. My responsibilities include the creation of the Sindeo experiences for borrowers, real estate agents and our internal mortgage experts. We’re using technology to:

  • Reduce inefficiencies and streamline the mortgage process.
  • Help prospective homeowners make informed decisions with access to information, guidance and choice.
  • Empower our mortgage advisers to provide better service through our advisory platform.

My typical day involves design, implementation, recruiting, team building, infrastructure building, and whatever random technical tasks arise.

The real estate industry is undergoing a digital transformation, and there are new entrants into the field every day. Evaluating new technologies and partners, and understanding the way that online technology is reshaping customer expectations, is key.

Andy Carra's desk.

Andy Carra’s desk

How’d you end up in real estate tech?

In my career, I’ve focused on improving retail finance for consumers. I was the technical co-founder at SoFi, a peer-to-peer lending company. Prior to that, I was chief technology officer at LearnVest, where we focused on making financial planning accessible to everyone. As the largest item on the consumer balance sheet, mortgages were the next logical step.

What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?

Nearly every part of the real estate transaction has benefited from technology, except mortgage. The mortgage process is antiquated, and consumers expert a different experience. People have grown used to transparency and easy access to information that helps them understand virtually every other purchase in their lives. This makes it particularly ironic that the biggest financial commitment they’ll make is the one they understand the least, and makes this process ripe for reimagining with a focus on transparency, open access to information and choice.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

I love building new things, and I love bringing financial understanding and decision-making to the consumer; it’s hard for me to choose between the two.

What products have you had a part in developing in the past?

I’ve been involved in a lot of projects in my time. I think the ones I’m most proud of include the core technology behind Social Finance’s system. There’s nothing more exciting or intimidating than a blank slate; we started SoFi with a lot of ideas, and I led the implementation of the core system that allowed us to start making loans, protecting data and experimenting with community.

I’m also proud of the True Link card: In my line of work, it’s rare to have a physical artifact of my efforts. True Link was great because I was building a technology that had a real physical manifestation — and, better than that, could make a real difference in people’s lives. Helping protect seniors and helping them maintain their independence was a great feeling. Getting to focus on security, performance and scale was a fantastic challenge.

And I’m proud of the WiGLE.net wireless network mapping system, the largest open database of observed wireless networks in the world. In addition to providing 14 years of technical challenges and opportunities to experiment with new and exciting ideas, WiGLE is a vibrant, growing community of oddballs, enthusiasts and security experts that we’re proud to support and to be a part of.

What are you working on right now? What are the challenges? 

At a high level, we’re focused on building an end-to-end mortgage process that helps people plan, shop, qualify and close their mortgage in a shorter amount of time with less hassle.

We’re also building tools for agents and brokers to give them better visibility into the transaction. One of the biggest challenges we face is regulation and compliance. We take this very seriously and we’re fortunate to have a former attorney for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on our leadership team to help us figure out how to be compliant while delivering a great consumer experience.

And, like every startup, we’re challenged with too much to do! We have to be laser-focused to deliver on our mission to simplify the mortgage process.

Favorite Twitter account?

Author William Gibson.

Favorite food?

Sushi, particularly sea urchin, followed closely by a good cheeseburger.

Favorite video game? 

Hard to say, but I loved the humor and puzzle-solving in the “Portal” series.

Favorite city?

Mos Eisley.

Favorite band or singer?

Johnny Cash.

What do you hate about technology?

We still haven’t made it easy for normal folks to secure their information and protect their privacy.

What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?

I’d bring the focus of the industry back to the consumer and how we best serve them.

Do you think technology can change the industry?

Absolutely. It has already started, and I believe it will continue to change it for the foreseeable future. Many people are afraid technology will replace service, but we believe technology can bring better service to consumers and their agents –and that’s a great thing.

In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?

The grand unified theorem, although I’d happily settle for faster-than-light travel.

What motivates you?

Making finance make sense for consumers.

Would you like to participate in our real estate hacker profile series? Email amber@inman.com.

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