Startup Spotlight: LoanSense
All Thinge Venture #017
Hey Everyone - Dez here from Apex Venture Studios. 2021 started off just as bad as 2020. The insurrection at the capitol was criminal, fueled by baseless lies, and antithetical to the very core of a functioning democracy. However, it’s Wednesday, January 20th (Inauguration Day) - and we are on our way to turning a new leaf!! +1 for Democracy!!! That being said, let’s dive right into our spotlight for today.
Today we are covering LoanSense. LoanSense is your personalized student loan advisor, and LoanSense was founded by Catalina Kaiyoorawongs. Catalina, a Michigan MBA grad, is working for you, for me, for all of us - to reduce our student loan payments and free up cash for us to purchase a home. This game of Life can be a tricky one, and no one really prepares you for what it’s like to save for a home, but the LoanSense team is here to help and get you on the path to homeownership.
What is LoanSense?
Catalina: LoanSense is a platform that reduces student loan debt and increases affordability for a house. LoanSense literally helps you turn a student loan payment into a mortgage payment.
What led you to build LoanSense?
Catalina: I am obsessed with personal finance and the fact that we’re the first generation to not be as well off as our parents. Education should lift us up the economic ladder, not burden a lack of economic opportunity. I’ve also personally experienced the benefits of homeownership. I was fortunate enough to be able to build my assets in my 20s, which has allowed me to become an entrepreneur today. I’d love to show my generation how it’s possible.
What makes LoanSense different?
Catalina: We plug into the lending system. A lender could plug in to our platform within 5 minutes. Through our tools, we estimate if an individual can reduce their student loan payment, and we help them assess what happens to their loan payment depending on the situation they are in. What makes us highly valuable is that we understand all the federal laws that govern student debt and navigate that process for both an individual and for a loan officer. Our secret sauce is understanding student loan rules and credit rules to help the loan officer and the individual. We help individuals reduce their monthly student loan payment and in doing so, we unlock more cash that can be put toward building equity in a home.
What’s the business model for loan sense?
Catalina: The lender pays us to execute the paperwork, and we execute an assisted filing. It’s a TurboTax like experience. We auto populate and simplify the paperwork for the individual that ultimately improves the business for a lender.
Who do you believe LoanSense is best positioned for?
Catalina: People who come to us that most need our service are people who have children and are balancing paying student loans and childcare, people who are in wage garnishment, or bad standing, or have a masters degree but are in non profit/ government jobs that do not have as high paying jobs as the private sector. Our average customer is 31 years old, it’s not the recent college grad.
What are some of the challenges that you face at the current stage for LoanSense?
Catalina: The current challenges we face are that we’re at a stage where we need to grow our team and be competitive in the marketplace even when we can’t pay them high wages. So, what’s challenging for us is how do you find the best talent and inspire them in what we’re building. For us, we need to recruit the best talent with the resources we have. We can’t offer crazy wages and we don’t have the brand name of Google. So, we really have to be an amazing leader, and we literally have to inspire people based off our vision.
What defines success for LoanSense over the next few months?
Catalina: Success for us is closing some really big partnerships that legitimize our thought leadership in the space. I would love to become a lender tool for FREDDIE MAC. If I can change FREDDIE MAC policy to allow student loan borrowers special benefits would be an amazing win, and I think we’re on the path to doing so.
Are there any success stories of you customers that stick out?
Catalina: We’ve helped people reduce their student loan debt on average by $600 per month, which is twice what the average student loan monthly payment is. Because of our work, we can help people get out of terrible situations like wage garnishment. Every time I listen in on our loan officers’ calls, I hear the change in people from the beginning of the call to the end of the call. Every person has a story, and we help them participate in the American dream.
What advice do you have for any aspiring entrepreneur?
Catalina: Find a problem you’re really passionate about – for me, it’s homeownership. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve experienced the benefits of it, but I’ve also been on the opposite side of the spectrum. My dad was homeless and I was housing insecure when I was in college. You’ll want to find the problem that makes you so motivated to solve it, because you want to solve it – especially if you’re talented because you have every option in the world. Why choose to struggle on a journey that doesn’t motivate you every day?