What do you do?
I oversee all technology development at MortgageHippo, which is a nice mix of designing our system architecture, managing our other developers and getting my hands dirty with coding. I’ve also become something of an expert on the mortgage application process, though I didn’t know much about it when I joined MortgageHippo.
What are you working on right now? What are the challenges?
As of last year, we started licensing our mortgage platform to banks and other lenders. We are working on integrating our platform with other technologies used by lenders, such as pricing engines, loan origination systems and CRMs. One of the biggest challenges with these integrations is the lack of standardization in the industry.
What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?
At MortgageHippo, we are exclusively focused on bringing the process of getting a mortgage online. Our platform facilitates the entire transaction between the borrower and the loan officer. We are obsessed with providing an amazing user experience to consumers and eliminating the inefficiencies in the mortgage process, which are the root of so much frustration for both borrowers and loan officers.
It’s very simple: People don’t buy a home to get a mortgage; they get a mortgage to buy a home. For most of us, getting a mortgage is a necessary part of the process, but too often it completely ruins the experience. Buying a home should be a happy time in your life, and we want to make sure the mortgage doesn’t get in the way of that.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I love seeing real people interacting with the tools we develop and giving us overwhelmingly positive feedback. That is immensely gratifying to me. Getting a mortgage is a very important thing people do, and I am very honored to make this process better for them through technology.
What products have you had a part in developing in the past? Describe the product — the idea and the execution.
The first big project we completed at MortgageHippo was our Loan Closing Plan (LCP). The LCP delivers a fully personalized experience to borrowers based on their profile and current circumstances; it then customizes a closing plan for borrowers that guides them through every part of getting a mortgage, step by step and question by question.
The LCP is intelligent and interactive, constantly verifying borrower information against loan underwriting guidelines and then presenting information back to the borrower so that the borrower can make educated mortgage decisions in real time.
As you can imagine, developing the LCP was a major undertaking. We had to dive into the loan underwriting and regulatory guidelines and break them down into a decision tree of questions and answers for lay consumers who don’t know much about mortgages.
Favorite Twitter account?
Paella — it’s actually very easy to make and tastes amazing.
Favorite video game? (Or book, if you don’t have a favorite game).
“Starcraft 2” — not as popular as it used to be, but it’s very rewarding once you get into it.
Cartagena, Colombia (I was just there, it’s so beautiful!)
Favorite band or singer?
I’m a big fan of the band Röyksopp, and also still love The Strokes.
What do you hate about technology?
Sometimes you find very robust technologies that sound very cool, but then you go use them and they are very confusing. A bad user experience just kills it for me.
What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?
When it comes to shopping for a mortgage online, there is a lot of bait-and-switch going on and a ton of consumer misinformation. For the sake of the entire real estate industry, these sleazy tactics need to go away.
Technology can help with that; if technology can do one thing very well, it is level the playing field and empower consumers so they don’t fall prey to unscrupulous “professionals.”
Do you think technology can change the industry?
Absolutely. Technology can have a tremendous effect on consumer behavior, and that is a very powerful thing. It has already drastically changed other industries (for example, travel and tax preparation); we see strong signs that it’s already happening in real estate, especially as millennials become a driving force in the industry.
That said, the barriers to entry are higher in real estate — and mortgages in particular — so the change will probably be more gradual, but it’s coming nonetheless.
In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?
There are a lot of industries, including the mortgage industry, that suffer from a collection of “gatekeeping” lead aggregation companies who dominate Internet search results in order to sell leads to companies that provide the products or services people are looking for. These companies often provide poor or misinformation to consumers and then sell consumer information to other companies at a huge markup. The companies buying these leads then pass that additional cost through to the end consumer.
I would love to work on a way for search engines to keep these companies in check.
What motivates you?
I am motivated to build things that people truly enjoy. I often hear startup gurus talk about everything in terms of addressing “pain points,” but I think a lot of new technology is more about creating “happy moments” people might not have known they were looking for. I like to enable as many of those moments as I can.
I think a lot of new technology is more about creating “happy moments” people might not have known they were looking for.
One of my favorite testimonials for MortgageHippo is that we’ve managed to make the mortgage process fun — I take a lot of pride in that.
Describe what you do in one sentence: I develop technology that makes getting a mortgage simple for borrowers.
Time at current company: Almost two years.
Degree: B.S., computer science; master of engineering, systems engineering, Cornell, University; MBA, NYU
Social media: LinkedIn
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