Matt McAllister from Mortgage Propeller joins the show to talk about bringing a new fintech to life in the middle of a pandemic, buying a house with a credit card, making lives easier for mortgage brokers and borrowers, talking to your customers way before they become your customers, life lessons from Bebo…and working through the night with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on in the background!
This episode of MoneyNeverSleeps is sponsored by PAT Fintech, the training partner that demystifies fintech and digital finance for financial services professionals.
Matt is the founder and CEO of Mortgage Propeller, a UK-based fintech that makes mortgage brokers more efficient and their businesses more profitable, by addressing compliance and lead generation. He’s got a firm belief that the mortgage application process shouldn’t take the joy out of buying a home. Matt is an entrepreneur and a fintech veteran armed with an MBA, and his 20-year career has spanned financial derivatives, property, online gaming and retail entertainment. Matt and Pete met back in 2017 while working together in another fintech startup, so this MoneyNeverSleeps interview is our longest to date at just over an hour as it’s been brewing for years.
On the word ‘entrepreneur’: “For most of 2020, I was an unemployed entrepreneur! The word doesn’t sit well, we didn’t use it when we were kids, and maybe social networks made it popular. The word itself, park it – I feel like you’re not an entrepreneur until you’ve done something. If you’re always trying to duck and dive, hustle and make something happen, and you haven’t achieved it yet, and you haven’t built a company, then it feels like you’re cheating [by calling yourself an entrepreneur].”
On arbitraging the inefficiencies in the mortgage process to buy a £42K house with five credit cards, learning the hard way on how to tidy all of that up, and then 8 years later when going to buy a house with his wife the right way, finding out that all of the systemic problems were still there: “It was the exact same process, and I was like, ‘How can this happen? You’ve got Elon Musk sending things to the moon and there’s self-driving cars, and you’re still telling me that I need to print out documents and scan attachments?’. I had 126 attachments to our mortgage application to explain my background as a trader on nine emails and went through all seven lenders in the Republic of Ireland at the time, along with three brokers. And we didn’t even get the property – my wife was upset, I was worn out, and I thought to myself that at some point, I’m going to look into fixing this.”
On figuring out what to do with his life while listening to a guru guest speaker in his MBA program: ”Think of the thing you do, whatever it is, that you lose track of time when you’re doing it. That’s what you’re meant to be doing with your life. Mortgage Propeller is the only thing I could be doing. It’s not ‘work’, it’s just something I should be doing. Working for someone and doing a normal 9-to-5 is not for me.”
On the gist of what Mortgage Propeller are doing: “If you’re online and you’ve got the engine to do the fact-find process and document uploading, with the things that are coming with Open Banking, then you can take care of the mortgage application from end to end. Once it’s taken care of end to end, then it’s compliant, as you’ve got an audit trail, just like how those big corporates track where all their business comes from. You can use that to define the pipeline of what’s going to happen for the next 3 months.”
On doing all of the legwork in 2019 and early 2020 to build the conviction to launch Mortgage Propeller and deciding two weeks before lockdown to just do it: “Two weeks later, lockdown happened, there’s me as an unemployed entrepreneur, and I’m minding the kids. So, my wife is working, I mind the kids until 6 o’clock, she comes down the stairs, and I go up the stairs and make Mortgage Propeller happen, because I had no choice to do it any other way.”
On turning the tide: “By June 2020, the world hadn’t ended, and the industry had figured out that they could work from home. They still didn’t have the tools, but they didn’t need to do things in the office, so suddenly, attitudes started to change. They were finding it difficult to get documents and scan documents and chase people up, and this is exactly what we were already doing and what we had started building.”
On early validation: “We started talking to firms across the UK, and lo and behold, people were really interested in what we were showing them. We were talking to the problems that they have – compliance, lead generation, speed and inefficiencies of completing an application process – and slowly but surely we started to get interest and some soft commitments. We just kept grinding and grinding through the summer until we felt like we had enough validation to start raising money.”
On the momentum of market research: “All these little nuggets tally up when you’re speaking to enough people, and if you’re right on the problem, you shouldn’t have to do that much research because it all starts to go down the same path, and the same answers are coming from 15 people.”
On how it’s the market that matters most: “As a trader, once the market tells you you’re done, you’re gone – you’re cut, your desk is empty, your chair is spinning, and you’re out the door. Startups are the same, the ones that don’t get the market right are gone.”
On having priorities and focus: “When you think about all the things you want to do and all the things you want to build, all that matters are your key metrics. If we’re going to raise a huge sum of money and pull this off, the only thing that matters are brokers on the platform and applications completed.“
On the mission: “We are not aiming to just be a software company, we are aiming to do this correctly and make life easier for the brokers, the borrowers, and do it by being authorized and challenge these guys that have been there since the ‘80’s and not made any difference. We’re going for it, and if we get carried out on our shield, well at least we didn’t leave anything behind.”
You can get in touch with Matt McAllister at email@example.com
Episode title inspired by ‘Props’ by Pete Rock
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