Iowa fintech startup LenderClose recently celebrated their most recent investment secured from Next Level Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in growing companies based in Iowa, including well-known fintech firm Dwolla.
LenderClose is a platform that digitizes the underwriting process and speeds up the lending cycle. The web-based hub gives loan officers instant access to the latest real estate lending technology, products and solutions so they can become dominant lenders in their local markets.
“This team has done some pretty impressive things with limited resources,” said Scott Hoekman, co-founder and principal of Next Level Ventures. “This investment is gas in the tank that will allow LenderClose to do much more.”
Since its launch in March 2016, LenderClose has added 100 lenders to its client list. February 2018 marked a record month of revenue for the startup, followed by another record month in March. LenderClose also added Chief Operating Officer Ben Rempe to its team this year.
“LenderClose has a product that works, clients who have validated the solution and a growing team supporting the vision for rapid scale,” said Hoekman. “You put more money alongside that momentum, and you’ve got something pretty exciting.”
The two-year-old Des Moines-based startup launched in 2016 when lending technology entrepreneur Omar Jordan, LenderClose founder and CEO, saw an opportunity to upend the underwriting process.
Jordan previously led the nation in mortgage originations while serving as AVP, sales branch manager for Household Finance, now HSBC. He has already built and sold two lending technologies companies.
“Borrowers have always wanted a fast ‘yes’ from lenders,” said Jordan. “But that urgency has been cranked to 11 today.”
During the lending process, community lenders benefit from significantly improved efficiency, allowing them to close more loans, more quickly, thus attracting more customers to their doors.
According to Jordan, this is becoming increasingly important for community lenders as they compete with mega bank financials and fast-moving digital solutions for borrower business.
Rempe said customers are used to certain customer service expectations. Starbucks has a customer’s custom-ordered coffee ready before they even get there, and Indochino has a made-to-measure suit on a customer’s doorstep in a couple of days.
“Consumers are used to getting what they want, how they want it, right now,” said Rempe. “Lenders understand expectations are changing, and they want to give borrowers that ‘yes’ right away. But, they have massive checklists that have to be addressed first. The LenderClose platform helps loan officers drive through the checklist, so they can deliver ‘yes’ faster than ever before.”
LenderClose will use the funding to grow their team. They have a planned addition of 25 employees, the first of which is new operations specialist Kara Miner.
As operations specialist, Miner’s core objective will be to maintain the connections loan officers need to close loans as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Miner brings more than 15 years of experience in mortgage, real estate tax sale and customer service to LenderClose. She previously worked at Premier Lending Alliance and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
LenderClose executives anticipate the platform’s technology will continue to advance over the next 12 to 18 months. Plans include the addition of artificial intelligence capabilities to the platform, as well as a consumer-facing mobile app to give consumers even greater visibility into the lending process as it moves from application to approval.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds attended a LenderClose launch event this week, offering brief remarks to LenderClose and Jordan and Rempe.
“Our goal is to have a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports startup companies like LenderClose at all levels of growth,” said Reynolds
Reynolds said Iowa appreciates companies like LenderClose choosing Des Moines for its headquarters.
“As a fintech startup, you’re building a stronger reputation,” said Reynolds. “We love the disruptive lending platform that continues to empower lending institutions to compete on a national level by streamlining the process and increasing their footprint. I love it when we can streamline and innovate. Anything disruptive, I love.”