Our Q&A series is an opportunity for our North American team to discuss all things Built Environment, Start-ups, and Career with different founders from across the region. Each week we will ask Built Environment innovators burning questions and quiz them about their products. We hope you find it insightful and enjoy getting to know the founders as much as we have.
Snapdocs is the mortgage industry’s leading digital closing platform. Powering millions of closings each year, Snapdocs combines a fully integrated platform with patented AI technology, an extensive settlement network, and a team of industry experts to serve lenders, secondary market participants, title companies, and notaries alike–all while enabling the perfect closings at scale.
How did you find yourself in the Built Environment sector?
I began my professional journey in the Army, where I gained valuable experience and developed a strong foundation. Seeking new challenges, I made a shift to investment banking but soon realized my passion lay in becoming an operator. I set out to find a company that was revolutionizing an industry that lacked technological advancement, offering ample room for innovation, growth, and the opportunity to make a substantial contribution. It was through a mutual connection that I discovered Snapdocs, a company that captured my attention due to its nascent technology, market leadership, and intriguing potential.
What was the mission when you set out to create Snapdocs and what is unique about your business vs competitors?
The mission of Snapdocs has remained consistent since its inception, which is one aspect I truly appreciate about the company. Snapdocs was established due to the highly fragmented nature of the mortgage industry during the closing process, a problem that still persists today. The company’s overarching goal is to facilitate flawless and scalable closings, where every transaction is characterized by speed, convenience, accuracy, and security. What sets Snapdocs apart is its exclusive focus on the closing process, setting us apart in terms of strategy, technology, and our talented workforce. During a recent company event, our founder shared his initial YC application, which revealed an almost identical vision for the company.
Snapdocs offers three distinct products to the market. Firstly, we provide an eClose platform capable of supporting various types of loan transactions, including hybrid with eNote and RON functionalities. Secondly, our eVault solution caters to lenders and secondary market participants, offering a secure and user-friendly storage system for eNotes. Lastly, we have a scheduling platform designed specifically for settlement and title participants. The most significant differentiating factor for Snapdocs is the seamless integration of these products, connecting all parties involved in the closing process and ensuring a more efficient and profitable transaction, while prioritizing a smooth borrower experience. Through our platforms, lenders, settlement/title agents, borrowers, and secondary parties can easily track the status of each closing.
As a business, we pride ourselves on being the most innovative company in this space, constantly seeking solutions to address fragmentation and provide added value to our customers. With our eClose solution, we stand out by enabling customers to achieve complete digitization. Unlike our competitors, we offer products capable of handling custom documents, rather than merely servicing a limited number of standard documents for lenders. There are a few other vendors offering a notary scheduling product. The biggest differentiator, besides user experience and our proprietary technology, is the size of our notary network offering mobile and virtual services to support our Title & Settlement customers.
What are some of the challenges you have faced within the Built Environment sector?
Certainly the last year has been a challenge for the entire industry – transaction volumes are expected to be the lowest in decades according to MBA, we’ve seen reﬁnance volume drop +90% since peak levels in 2021 since the Fed raised rates, but we do think we’ve hit the bottom and expect to see volumes increase. Our customers have deﬁnitely suﬀered, and we’ve seen a lot of business closures and mergers and acquisitions.
Outside of market forces, I’d say the most challenging aspect has been change management with our customers. Our customers are banks, credit unions and mortgage lenders – who are inherently mitigating risk. This creates very diﬀerent buying behaviors in this industry with drawn out sales cycles. Customers in this space have more diligent vendor approval processes and are hesitant to change.
While we are realistic about the current state of the market, we are positive on the future of our industry. We are in the best position to serve our existing and new customers to drive stronger margins in this low volume market, and support their business when volumes rise again.
What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the Built Environment industry?
Be willing to learn – it’s a highly specialized and technical industry that has a steep learning curve. If you want to actually solve problems for your customers, you need to deeply understand their workﬂows, their relationships, and how you can add value through diﬀerent products and services
Be patient – this is an industry that draws people in for 20 – 30 years. I recently talked to somebody creating technology solutions in mortgage in the late 1980’s. So tech isn’t anything new, but it takes a long time to implement and change an industry that relies on paper.
It is an insider industry – people place a huge emphasis on people and relationships. Expand your network to anyone with deep industry knowledge
What does the coming year hold for your company? What are your expansion plans?
While the past year has forced many in the industry to re-evaluate business strategy, Snapdocs has oﬀered transparency and addressed the challenges head-on by focusing on our mission and the value we deliver for our customers. We’re in a really good position right now as a company and it feels like we’re back on the oﬀensive, ready to support our customer’s business objectives.
This year we’re focused on expanding our technology stack to deliver valuable products to market, preparing for market growth, and strengthening our relationships with customers, partners, and our own internal teams.
Like most companies, we’re always thinking of options for how to grow organically or inorganically.
Tell us about your approach to talent acquisition and how it has changed over the past few years?
One of the compelling factors that attracted me to Snapdocs was the exceptional talent within the company. Firstly, we have a remarkable group of intelligent individuals who possess the ability to apply pattern recognition to problem-solving. This collective intelligence allows us to approach challenges with innovative perspectives and find effective solutions. Additionally, a significant aspect of our team is the presence of genuinely kind and friendly people. The abundance of authentic individuals at Snapdocs creates a positive work environment, which is especially valuable in a remote setting.
Furthermore, while not a mandatory requirement, we actively seek out talent with industry expertise. This focus has intensified in recent years, recognizing the nuanced nature of the mortgage industry. By bringing on board professionals with substantial experience in the mortgage field, we have witnessed accelerated onboarding processes and a deeper understanding of our customers, ultimately benefiting the overall business.
Moreover, I want to highlight that Snapdocs provides ample opportunities for individuals to grow and assume more significant responsibilities. We have actively supported and encouraged our employees to stretch their capabilities and take on larger roles, and this investment in our team has yielded positive outcomes for both individuals and the company as a whole.
What have been your learnings when it comes to attracting and hiring the right talent?
Building oﬀ of my last answer, I think one of my learnings has been to hire people that have both capacity & capability. If you hire someone that has just demonstrated capability in one particular area, they might not be the best candidate to be able to handle the multiple demands of a start-up job. If you look for people that have demonstrated capability through various roles and have the capacity to grow into a role, they might be a better ﬁt for your company
Can you please share your predictions for the talent in the North American Built Environment sector?
It’s tough to say – the Fed has continued to signal rate hikes. MBA & Fannie Mae have both forecasted an increase in mortgage transactions through the year. These are mixed signals and it will be diﬃcult to tell if companies feel comfortable letting oﬀ the brakes to hire more people.
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