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With Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Vincent Turner of Uno Home Loans - Fintech in Australia & the US

Posted on: 02/13/2017

Vincent Turner

Vincent Turner

Founder & CEO - Uno Home Loans

Vincent Turner of Uno Home Loans - Podcast Summary

Vincent Turner of Uno Home Loans is a Fintech pioneer in Australia & the US. Vincent’s latest company, Uno Home Loans, is dramatically simplifying the Australian mortgage process by making it completely digital. The company is growing rapidly and is backed by some of the largest institutions in Australian Finance. In the podcast we discuss the evolution of Fintech, some of the lessons Vincent learned at his last two companies and how he has applied them to Uno.

Vincent Turner of Uno Home Loans - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends Podcast, with Scott Orn Kruze Consulting, and my very special guest is Vincent Turner of Uno Home Loans. Welcome, Vincent.
Vincent: Thank you for having me. It’s glorious to be here.
Scott: It doesn’t matter what you say, with that charming Australian accent. I just enjoy talking to you.
Vincent: I miss it. I was in San Francisco for five years. I didn’t realize how much of an accent it was, until I got back to Australia and I was like, “I don’t have that, anymore.”
Scott: Probably, especially with the ladies. Hey, Man, thanks for being on the podcast. As we were talking before I turned the mic on, I love Fintech. I’m super excited to have you. You have a really interesting story. Walk people through how you got going. Your transition from San Francisco startup to Australian startup is fascinating.
Vincent: Yeah, it’s actually … It starts even a little bit before that. It was an Australian startup initially. First tech boom, the early twenties, developed some messaging tech, ended up licensing that to a couple of the big banks here. Then, the tech wreck hit. We found ourselves with plenty of cash. We raised money, and capability, but literally no market. What we decided to do, was to go into mortgage software. We built a platform at one of the big banks here, deployed replacing paper applications. Over the next three or four years, we managed to grow that to be one of the two platforms in the marketplace. It was a duopoly and raised more capital, bought out our first investors, and then the GFC hit. We actually realized we had timed going into software two years before the tech bubble burst. Then, moving into mortgage software two years before subprime meltdown, and found ourselves picking up the pieces of that. I ended up in my late twenties thinking, “I’ve done nine years in this software company. I virtually own very little of it now, because we’ve been diluted so much. I’m out. I’m going to leave CDM. I’m going to leave finance. I’m going to leave tech.” I went back to Perth. I hung out with my parents, then I met someone who was in a VC between Sydney and San Francisco. She said, “You know, you’ve got to and play in the majors. You actually need to go back to San Francisco.” I landed in San Francisco in late 2010, knowing no one, zero people other than her. She wasn’t there half the time, and started this idea of, “What’s the trend that we need to look for?” The idea for Plan Wise, which was the San Francisco company that I ran for the last five years, up until the end of 2015, was this idea that people need to make better financial decisions, and that the banks won’t be able to build the stuff. In fact, they won’t incentivize, either. The regulators are going to want it, but they’re not going to know how to build it. It would be an opportunity for technology to change the relationship that consumers would have with their money. Mint was the 1.0 of that, and there was going to be a slew of personal finance technology. We wanted to bring that to market. That was plan-wise, and that was fun. We raised venture capital, and some of that was from Australia, some of that was from the US. It was ultra cliché, late 2010, Uber and Air BnB, and these companies, we’re starting to get going, and the Angel List and White Combinator. This was all just starting to really, really come to the floor. I was a junkie. I was going three nights a week to meetups, and just drinking from the Kool-Aid. Fintech wasn’t a thing either. Fintech wasn’t a thing yet. In 2012, we had been running for about a year and a half, and I’d gone through my second co-founder, which is a story we can tell later. I was like, “This is driving me bananas.” I started a Fintech meetup because I was like-
Scott: Right, I forgot about that. Keep going though, so you did the Fintech meetup?
Vincent: Fintech meetup was perfectly timed. I remember trying to, I pitched the VC conference. I said to them, “Can I come and talk to your conference about the opportunities in financial services?” This is in 2012. Their response was basically, “It’s highly regulated. It’s boring. There aren’t opportunities there.” I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Financial services, the biggest industry in the world before software took it over, and it’s built on 40-year-old technology. Every person in the world uses a device connected to their money, every single day. How is this not an opportunity? 2012 in March, we started that Fintech meetup. I was doing this in parallel with Plan Wise. I think about 25 people turned up, and about half of them wanted me to give them a hand with their Google Checkout. That was what they thought Fintech was. We grew it. We grew it slowly and steadily and ended up becoming, by the end of 2015 when I left San Francisco, there were 4,000 members. It was every month, 150 to 250 people. We had amazing people come and talk at it. It was awesome. It was a really good transformational thing. It was great to be a part of it. It was a member community. I just hosted, and I got lucky in some respects. By the same token, I got to interview and meet the CEOs of just about all the best Fintech companies in the Valley, and some even out of the Valley. There were some regular things at these companies. It was in 2015, the start of it, I was like, “We are a tech company that is trying to sell our wears to the financial services industry. What we need to be is a financial services company that’s leveraging our tech.” That transformational rethink of our company was like, “We’re in the wrong business.” At that time, our Plan Wise had morphed into a tool, to help people making the decision to buy a home. We got into the real estate accelerator that the NAR run, the National Association of Realtors. We had all these mortgage brokers and real estate agents who loved the idea of it but just wouldn’t deploy it. They wouldn’t give it to their customer. They just wanted to sell homes or sell mortgages.
Scott: I love, your comment about, “Instead of trying to sell technology, let’s just leverage it.” In a very small way, that’s what we do with Kruze consulting. We know the best software stack for all the startups. We put on that. You just crush it. You guys, I want to hear more about your model, but it sounds like you guys have executed that. You built the technology yourself, which is even better, but you’re just making it easier for everyone to do what they need to do.
Vincent: Yeah, I think this is the challenge. Most retail banks haven’t realized that the customer experience is now core to their existence. Let’s think about Amazon, it’s convenience and price. Financial services is a digital product, so the product can be shipped anywhere instantly, and it’s an enabler. Not too many people have an aesthetic love of their blender or their sunscreen. They need it because they want to go and create a smoothie or go out in the sun. I think, there are some similarities, in finance. No ones like, “I have the best personal loan, you’re going to love this personal loan. I’m so happy with it.” It’s cheap, and it was really easy to get it. When you think about technology, and suddenly everyone’s got a mobile phone in their hand, or they’re at their computer eight hours a day. I think desktop, by the way, is massively overlooked. Everyone seems to be, “Mobile, mobile, mobile,” we can talk about that later, but this is what we realized. We’re trying to build this tech and sell this tech to banks, and convince them that they’ve got to go down this journey. What we realized is that, if we can get the ability to sell the financial services product ourselves, why would we sell it? We’re giving away the file. Our investors out of Australia like, “If you’re going to do that if you’re going to go into mortgages,” which was our heritage in Australia, and we landed back in property in the US, “Why would you do that in the US? Why don’t you come and do that in Australia? You know everyone here. You’ve got better connections?” I’m like, “All right.”
Scott: Let’s continue on, but for one second, I think your point about how the customer experience is really all that matters is so right on. When banking went online, everything got abstracted. I occasionally go to the branch, but all I really interact with is Wells Fargo’s website and Charles Schwab’s website. I don’t even want to talk to anyone there. That attraction started and now the consumer’s hooked. Now the consumer’s looking for better and better ways to do it. The one big advantage the retail banks have, is they have this super, ultra-low cost to capital because they have deposits. Whatever loans they make, has a zero basis, basically. Everyone has the same zero cost spaces because the world is flooded with deposits. Now, all of the sudden, it’s like the only thing you can [inaudible] on, is your user experience.
Vincent: Yeah, I think there is still plenty of pockets in financial services, for places where there’s still massive margins being created. I think you’ve seen in payday lending-
Scott: That’s actually a big margin though if you’re lending at four or 5%, and you have a zero cost to funds, that’s actually incredibly lucrative.
Vincent: Yeah, especially when you’re a city bank, and you’ve got two hundred million customers.
Scott: Exactly, yeah. Keep going, keep going.
Vincent: There’s this opportunity in financial services, if you think, “I don’t have a branch network, how I can get directly to the customer through their mobile phone, I have to be creative in how I acquire that customer digitally,” but that’s a whole nother story. Then, there’s particular products and particular segments that are starting to be cherry-picked. This is the start of this movement towards better pricing for risk, for the particular consumer you’re talking about. So far, I’ve executed this really, really well, I think. They’ve realized, if you’re at the top 25 colleges, you’re not the same risk as the guy at the community college, in the back of Antonio. Not to pick on Antonio, and they’d have to be priced differently. They don’t mind that people are making more money getting the line to the guy in Antonio. They’re saying, if you’re the guy at Stanford, you shouldn’t be paying the same as that guy, because you’re just not the same risk. There’s a whole bunch of socio-economic impacts of all this, as well, which we could probably spend the entire podcast on if we wanted to. From a risk pricing perspective, efficient markets work when people pay commensurate with a risk that they present or that their security presence, for whatever it is they’re doing. That’s the opportunity in financial services. One of the worst things I’ve seen major banks do is they say, “There are no revenue opportunities in retail banking. These customers only spend $250 a year with us, and that’s all the fees that we get from them. I’m like, “Facebook has 5,000 employees and has 1.4 billion users. You’re Citi Bank, and you have hundreds of thousands of employees, for 100 million users. You’ve clearly got the economics wrong.
Scott: You’re totally right. There’s one thing, going back to that SoFi example. There is a lot of the value they create, and a lot of the opportunity they recognize was that different under riding style, and different pricing. I think, by the way, full disclosure, I’m in a late stage investor in SoFi, so I want to see them do well. I love the people there, they’re awesome. I own so little of the company that it doesn’t, you know. Believe me, Mike Cagney is not worried about what I think. What it also does, is actually helps their customer acquisition. They can tell a very specific story. They can find people who, the people who went to Stanford like being part of the club, and the people who went to Berkeley like being part of the club. What you see from SoFi, is they basically, it’s an affinity channel, and they move down the stack. Actually, that affinity channel, or affinity group, is actually their secret sauce on marketing, too. It’s actually a double strength. It’s a really amazing insight they have.
Vincent: Yeah, and I think they started with the kernel of great financial services begins with a great product. That product has to solve for one or more of three things. This is in mortgages, which were in, but it’s in everything, as well. It either has to be a really great price point to the person, relative to what they would be getting otherwise, the service proposition has to be really good, so they can get it really, really easily, or it has to be available to them, given that their risk criteria, where they don’t think they’re risky, but other people do.
Scott: Yeah, you nailed it. That’s the best one, right there.
Vincent: They have it. They’ve got that so right. It was priced well, it was delivered really well, and it met a risk profile that was misunderstood in the marketplace. I think they started with that. We had SoFi come and talk at the meetup. One of my friends set up their New York office. These guys are really good at marketing, as well. The challenge facing anyone who’s trying to create a financial services company, competing with these incumbents, is that, how do you build a brand that consumers are going to trust, with a particular set of people? That stuff is expensive. I think. This is the learning that I had from interviewing these CEOs of these Fintech companies. None of them talk the traditional San Francisco early stage company, where you’ve got two guys and a garage, and they tinker along with some of their own money that they’ve saved up. Then, they release a beater, and it goes reasonably well. They go on to Accelerator, and they get half a million bucks at the end of it. Then, they tinker along, and they get some more traction. They start to introduce a business model, then they do a larger [inaudible] for one and a half. Maybe two and a half years later, they go into a Series A for three to six million, or whatever. So far, in the case of Earnest, these guys, they started straight out of the gates with five million dollars [inaudible]. We have to be licensed. We need a great product, we need great engineering, great customer service. We need great brands and digital marketing. We need all of that right up front, and we won’t be launching for six months. Then, we’ll need enough runway to have enough traction, so that we don’t have to rise again for another six to 12 months after that.
Scott: They also have to fund their loan portfolio, and you can only get a credit line from someone like who I used to be at Lighthouse. They’re not going to advance the whole loan portfolio. They’re going to advance 50 to 80% of it. You’ve got to, you know. You also mention the compliance. That is a real … Beth Stevens is a good friend of mine. She was head of compliance, I think ahead of operations at Earnest for basically the whole way, up until recently. Beth is just one of the best lawyers in the Valley, but Beth is expensive, she had a huge team of lawyers, and that’s at Earnest which is still a Series C company.
Vincent: Yeah. I think, there are two parts. There’s the actual cost of the compliance, and there’s the cost to maintain your entire team until you’re compliant. You can’t start the compliance process. They’ll say, “Hey, have you got the IT process and policies?” You’ve got to have all that stuff just sitting there, waiting. This [inaudible] market, but once you break through that membrane, which obviously these companies all have. You know to a degree, they’re starting to do that down in Australia. The upside is amazing for these businesses. The trajectory of these businesses is amazing.
Scott: Also, your cost to capital. Let’s talk about Uno, and then we can layer in the cost to capital. At Lighthouse, I backed a bunch of these, online lending companies in 2010, which I can’t believe I didn’t know you back then. What we would see is their cost to capital would staircase down, away from us. We were a high-cost lender, then they would make it to a bank, and make it to a special purpose vehicle, and all of the sudden they were borrowing at 5% instead of borrowing at 12%, which is just part of the life cycle, but that’s actually a huge improvement in economics. It really makes a lot of difference for them.
Vincent: I was going to say that, and what they’re doing is painting it forward. They’re saying at scale, we’re both going to have economies in our customer acquisition and our service proposition. Our cost to capital is going to go, as you said, from 12 to 5%, and suddenly, you’re sitting on a 70% gross margin business. Those numbers stack up really well. What you tend to find as well, is that the large incumbents are incredibly removed from their digital customer acquisition. In doing so, their cost of customer acquisition digitally, it really is. If you go and look at Google’s annual report-
Scott: Yeah, they spend so much money on Google, it’s crazy.
Vincent: But, you look at Google’s annual report, back the other way, the three biggest keywords, are personal loans, insurance, and mortgages, or something else. It’s basically, the three most expensive places to buy keywords in Google, are on those three words.
Scott: My buddy used to run the finance vertical at Google. His advice was, “Don’t use Google to advertise unless you’re willing to really pay up. It’s really expensive.”
Vincent: You can, and we’re finding, we’ve been using Google for the last nine months here, in Australia. You can, you just have to get super creative with what you’re paying for and what you’re doing with the customer who arrives at your site.
Scott: Talk about Uno, so that everyone knows what you’re talking about, and your brilliant masterstroke, that allows you to just crush it when you went down to Australia.
Vincent: I think they say the secret is, you can either be in the right place at the right time, or you can be in the right place and just hang around for a while.
Scott: And then the right time comes around.
Vincent: That’s what I’m saying, as long as you just hang around in the right place. The company I did in Australia previously, was mortgage software. It basically replaced paper applications, which meant I’d integrated mortgages from the mortgage brokers to the banks, at every major bank in Australia, and quite visibly. People knew I was the guy who had done that. Our company did it first and ended up being two companies. I had enough of a relationship based in Australia, then also the narrative around Silicon Valley, which was, “Hey, he went to the Valley, and was there when these brands were getting started, started this Fintech meetup. When Fintech was getting started,” there was just this wonderful narrative that played into a dialogue that happened with one of the major banks back here in mid-2015. Westpac’s the name of that bank. Westpac’s was the first bank in Australia, of the big four, which is like the major ones in the US, to set up a VC fund, and they didn’t set it up themselves. They set it up, they funded, or [inaudible] the only LP, to another fund external, that had a timed mandate, basically. It’s not-
Scott: They’re a big LP in that fund?
Vincent: They’re the only LP in that fund. The point of that fund is to go and invest in stuff that may be competitive with Westpac. At least Westpac gets to see it, and they get to know what’s happening. They get to give those companies an unfair advantage. It’s not designed to invest in the stuff that Westpac might want to have in its business. They think about the market in terms of, “Sustaining innovation’s the stuff we need to do better as a bank.” The hit for the fences stuff goes through our VC firm, but the stuff that’s adjacent to us, which is we’re not in it today or we should be in it more and it’s going to evolve because of digital. Mortgage broking was one of those things. If you think about banks and mortgages, they either manufacture a mortgage, and they either distribute it through a retail channel via their branches or they’re online, or they distribute it through mortgage brokers. In Australia, mortgage broking is the dominant way to get a mortgage. It’s like 53, 54% of the market. It continues to grow every year.
Scott: Why is it? Why are brokers so? Is it because they can offer multiple products, and people can compare?
Vincent: Yeah, I think, there’s a couple of things. In the US, you think of a mortgage as simply the mechanism to get your money, and after three months, they might sell that mortgage and you might start getting a statement from someone else. You’re like, “Cool. Whatever.” In Australia, that’s not how you think about it. You get your mortgage and you get it with a particular bank. You think, “I’m in business with that bank now,” and they offer you other banking services. It’s the lynchpin to a banking relationship. There’s this symbiotic relationship, slash viscous cycle, that the brokers introduced this branded product. The banks used that branded product, to build out a pretty sticky, banking relationship with the mortgage at its core. Mortgages in Australia, are a reasonably high margin compared to the rest of the world, a couple of percents. The brokers are also selling the brand of the bank. It’s easier for a broker to sell a large, bank-branded product, than, “There’s this other one, you’ve never heard of.”
Scott: Their conversion is way higher, yeah. That makes sense.
Vincent: It’s just easier. It’s just easy to say, “Hey, you’ve heard of Wells.”
Scott: Does the broker get a second shot at that client a couple years later, or is that a US thing?
Vincent: Yeah, this is where the Australian model is different from everywhere else in the world, actually. The broker gets paid up front, and ongoing.
Scott: They have some skin in the game, so people won’t refinance.
Vincent: You’d think so but they’re getting 65 basis points up front. 6,500 on a million dollars worth of mortgage, and about 2%, so 20 basis points every year, so another 2,000 on that million dollars, which is awesome, but if you think about that over a four year period, 80% of what they’re going to earn they earn int he first two years. After two years they’re like, we could probably find you something better.
Scott: That’s awesome.
Vincent: Honestly, the best brokers in Australia are not there to church their customer, but as an industry you’ve got to think, the incentives are aligned to changing it up.
Scott: Yeah, it’s also just the direction of interest rates, that’s why so much churn happens right now, the last 10 years, or whatever. Insurance rates have been going down. When insurance rates go up, it won’t happen as much.
Vincent: You’ll see. I don’t know, anyway, the picking interest rates is a tough one. I’ve actually just done a blog post on where I think interest rates are going, I’m breaking my own rules. Anyway, the point with Westpac was, there is a company that had a manufacturer’s mortgage. Second largest bank in Australia, so 100 million dollar organization, they have a retail network. They do not own any of the distribution on mortgage broking side. There is a flow from banks to brokers of 2.2 billion every year. They look at that market and go, “We’re not taking part in that revenue port. We pay out. But, we don’t get to get in.” Our options are either to invest, to try, and find a company that’s going, and transform it digitally, or find an entrepreneur who knows how to execute a digital strategy and back him to the gilt. Him, or her, to the gilt. That’s where I landed, in the lap of that strategy that they had. We were going to go to market anyway, and they said, “Why don’t we bring this thing together?” Westpac was the first bank I sold that messaging stuff to, back in 2001, so I had a long history with the bank. Culturally, it was right alignment. They got that we needed to write a decent check up front, those checks I spoke about before where you can’t do half a million dollars. I’m like, “I need to hire a team of 25 people, and we need to do this properly.” The bank gets it. They don’t fund half a million dollar IT projects in the bank. They go, “It’s going to take X million dollars over Y years,” and they think about the funding requirement for this business the same way. I ended up in this wonderful situation, which people continually raise their eyebrow and go, “How the hell did you do that,” or, “How did that happen?” Because, they don’t know that I did it. We got funded like a company might have looked like in the early 2000’s, where someone wrote you a large check off the back of a PowerPoint. In fairness to the idea, I had a great core team assembled, all in Australia, who had really deep experience in the areas that we needed. I had already built the technology. We had two years worth of the build that had happened in Plan Wise, and we brought all that IP back. We hit the ground running. We launched in the middle of the year, and basically we launched Australia’s first, what we call digital mortgage service. You can think about it a bit like an online mortgage broker. Basically, we are not the lender. The consumer deals with us digitally so they can deal with us through a platform, over the phone, on chat, or video. They don’t have to come and see us, we never have to go and see them. That technology basically, is used to power both the customer experience and the service people who we employ. There’s no commissions, there’s no heavy sales tactics, and the more we build the platform, we release it every two weeks, it digitizes the process that makes it easier and easier for the consumer to get access to all the lenders we deal with.
Scott: You can actually measure that, and you’re probably looking at your timelines for new borrowers, and you can see all of this compressing, probably in real time?
Vincent: Like massively. We actually did an update two weeks ago. Two days after that update, we were seeing people come in, in the morning, play around, and sign up, in a couple of minutes. Then, go through this onboarding, to, “I will apply for this particular product,” about a hour or so later. Then, be giving us documents an hour or so after that. They could do it faster, and be talking to us and have a credit proposal in their hand, in a couple of hours. The actual amount of effort that they’ve got is literally only measured in tens of minutes. People are getting from discovery to application in the morning, and a Saturday morning, as well.
Scott: Amazing. Congratulations, Man. It’s such a testament to how hard you worked on Plan Wise, and like you said, it wasn’t just you were in the right place. You had your eyes open and you were willing to pivot, and you saw the opportunity.
Vincent: Yeah, absolutely, and a little bit of luck. I think everyone who’s got anywhere, especially in startup, has had a little bit of luck in terms of timing. Sometimes you see. I think that 2004 commencement speech by Steve Jobs, about it’s hard to connect the dots looking forward is, never a truer word spoken.
Scott: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I always tell people, actually I see a lot of entrepreneurs get really stressed out. We work with so many that, they think, they’ll look at someone like you. They don’t know you, in this way. They’ll just think you had the brilliant idea one day, to build a digital mortgage servicing company, and it just happened. Or, Mark Zuckerberg just had this idea to build Facebook in its current incarnation. It stresses them out. They’re not having that same … They don’t know that the plan always is changing, and you’re going to eventually hit the right plan. Then, when you tell the story five years later, it’s going to be all tied up in a neat bow. They don’t know that. I’m always encouraging them, “It’s hard and you figure it out along the way. Everyone’s faking it.” That’s just how it is. That’s how life is.
Vincent: I wrote a blog post which you can link to people, in 2013, was a speech I gave at the Fintech meetup when we were short a speaker one week. I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll give a talk to my own meetup.” It was Ellie Tomy who did it. It was called From Guns to Funds. It mapped the first 18 months of Plan Wise. I had a tech co-founder the first couple of months that I landed. He pulled out, seven weeks before we were due to get on stage in New York to present our stuff. I managed to blag away at Finovate. I didn’t tell them. I just said, “Everything’s totally fine. Everything’s totally fine. I’m in Bulgaria,” some investors who were going to invest money. It was a guy who I’d met in a bar in Bath five years prior. He said, “Yeah, I’ll give you 20 grand. It sounds like I good idea, I like it.” He put PlanWise.com, the domain, on his credit card, and said, “I’ll wire you the rest of the money.” I got on a plane, with the last money I had, and flew to Bulgaria, because I didn’t have any engineers. He’s like, “We’ve got engineers in Bulgaria.” In the weekend that I flew to Bulgaria, we had, that’s the correction that happened in 2012.
Scott: the stock market correction?
Vincent: Yeah, a stock market correction. By the time I got off the plane in Bulgaria, he’s like, “We’re pretty spooked. We’re not going to invest anymore, but we’ve paid your first week’s accommodation.” I’m like, “I’ve got no co-founder, no product, no money, no return ticket, and I’ve got accommodation for four more days.” My landlord is a gun-toting, Bulgarian six foot five ex-mercenary, who I went to pay. I managed to get another hundred bucks from my parents, I think, because it was my birthday. It was my birthday that week. My parents wired me some money for my birthday, I can’t tell them what’s going on. I used that money to go and pay my landlord who was next door to me. I walk in there, and he’s huge. This guy used to be a mercenary in Africa, in the 70’s or something. He has his watch singleton, with his blue shorts, traditional Eastern European old guy thing going on. He sits me down in this low chair, and he’s on this big wooden table, that’s much higher than me.
Scott: Looking down on you, that’s awesome.
Vincent: Then, he just whips out this magnum, just pulls a huge magnum out and sticks it on the table, and starts stroking the barrel of this gun. He’s like, “I want you to know what happens if you run away without paying me. I’m like, “Dude, I’ve got your money right here.” I walk in to the office the next day and the Bulgarian’s developers, I’m like, “Yeah, this happened,” welcome to Bulgaria.
Scott: Totally. What did you do? How did you get out of that?
Vincent: I rang up another guy I met at a festival in Perth, just before I went to the US, who was in the US previously and loved it, and was living vicariously through me. I was like, “Dude, I just need 14 grand. I need it to pay these engineers, and to pay the entry fee to Finovate. Then, if I can get to Finovate, I’ll do it. If I can’t get to Finovate, I’ll throw it in the towel and come back to Perth, and I’ll pay your money back.” He’s like, “All right,” so he wired me 14 grand. That got us to Finovate. When I got to Finovate, we presented at Finovate, the guy who was supposed to give me the 20 went, “Yeah, you pulled that out. You’re obviously pretty plucky. I’ll give you the rest of the money.” Then, we went from there. Any entrepreneur who’s thinking, you get to look at this thing, and you look at it when the people start writing about it, because the numbers become large, there’s always a back story.
Scott: I totally agree. Linda with Kruze Consulting, and the story you tell now is very different than we were … Vanessa Bootstrap, Kruze Consulting forever, so that’s you know. We’ve probably got five more minutes here. Where’s Uno going? What’s next on the roadmap, and I’d love to hear a little bit more about the Australian Fintech scene. What’s going on down there?
Vincent: I’ll start with Uno, just to give you a one minute on it. We basically launched last year, and this year, we have to become a real company. Really what that means is, how do we grow? How do we make sure that more people find out about this thing, and more people use it, and that they love it and they tell more people about it? That basically means, doing about four to five X on the numbers we were doing at the end of last year, by October this year. We’re on track to do it already. We’ve already hit January numbers, and we’ve got a whole lot of marketing that’s starting to ramp up. Our digital spend is probably, it’s the largest line item in our entire thing. We’re spending a lot of money on marketing. I think, that’s the reality of building a digital business. The other reality is you have to convince people that just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it’s not high service. People tend to think if it’s online, I have to do it myself. We’re having to educate people on that. Super excited for Uno. We’re just going to focus on Australia. We’re obviously interested in where our tech can go after that, but they’re just a great group of people. We’re just, “Keep our head down, and keep doing it.”
Scott: I love it, so exciting. So exciting.
Vincent: Super exciting. In terms of Fintech in Australia, this is the surprising thing. Having run the Fintech networking group, or Fintech meetup in San Francisco, when I got back to Sydney, I was pretty pleasantly surprised that there’s a great Fintech scene, especially for early-stage Fintech, in Sydney and Australia generally, but very much Sydney. In so far as that there is three Fintech accelerators. All of the major banks are at least across it, if not highly engaged. There is engagement from state and federal government. There is a Fintech sandbox, that enables you to go and do stuff without having to be fully regulated in particular verticals, to make it easier to come to market. The reason is, it’s not because the tech scene is so good. There is a reasonable tech scene in Sydney. In Melbourne as well, actually, to be fair. I think, a lot of the tech companies in the US now are thinking Melbourne over Sydney. Both have their advantages. It’s there’s a really good financial services system. The retail financial services in Australia, excuse my language, shits all over the US. At the Empire Startups Conference last year, Mastercut came out and said, “We are getting 70% adoption for Pay Wave with Mastercut.” They only got that tech 12 months ago. Everyone taps and goes now. There is no put it in, signature-
Scott: Really? Oh my God, that’s so much better.
Vincent: It’s so much better. They’re about to release, later this year, October, they’re releasing real-time transfers between banks. No, there’s no third-party provider. It’s just putting someone’s details, their Email, their twitter, or whatever, and then real time, send the money. It clears real time. It’s a good [crosstalk] .
Scott: The ACH system in the United States is just archaic. It’s crazy. I don’t even, can’t even deal with it.
Vincent: [crosstalk] Douala [inaudible] ,
Scott: I like Duala too, and Stribe ACH is supposedly pretty good, too. Dude, I’m just really happy for you, Man. You totally know, the exciting thing is, you know your industry’s so cold, and you just found the points that just needed help. I also just like your attitude of, it’s not a, “We’re coming to conquer, we’re going to kill everybody and rule.” It’s very modest but very effective pitch. You know what you’re improving and you know who your constituents are. It’s really powerful.
Vincent: Thanks. I think, we’re big … I think our role is to lead the industry, but help move the industry forward. Ultimately, and I’ve said this before, with most financial services products, trust is the baseline. Unless people trust you, they won’t do business with you, because it’s their money. Once you get through that trust barrier, people want the best experience in getting the product or dealing with the service provider, at the lowest cost. That’s it. It’s a really simple value proposition. We’ve done call surveys, and call surveys, and interviews, and everything. Everyone just says, “I want the best deal, and I want the experience to be good, and the service proposition to be good.” Great. Just do that stuff really well. Forget about trying to paint the picture, and do other stuff. Just focus on those two things.
Scott: The beauty of it is software is really good for that. You can make really great software and bring the cost down like crazy, and everyone will be happy.
Vincent: Yeah. One thing I will add to that, though, is the software is great for building the consumer interaction. You also need to build great software so that when people do need to talk to someone, that, that person looks like a rockstar. One of our goals at Uno is we’re not only building a great customer experience for what you need to interact with as a customer. The stuff that’s easier to deal with on the phone and talk about on the phone, because it’s … Can be complex, or quite subjective. We build tools in the background, that mean that our people can have a great, meaningful, informed conversation with you very quickly, and don’t have to go, “I’m going to have to run some numbers and call you back.” That’s the other half of it.
Scott: Are you guys building that on SalesForce or some other tool? Is it from scratch?
Vincent: Yeah. The core capability to have conversations is rooted in building out financial calculations. Really, that was the heritage of Plan Wise. That’s been the heritage at the mortgage software. That’s why we’re completely vertically integrated. We don’t rely on any third party software. We will roll out a CRMP at some point, to help us with task automation, but outside of that, we run everything on Amazon. We run it locally, in Sydney. The core technology stack and stuff, we build ourselves with 15 years of experience of how to build this. We learn as we go.
Scott: I love it. Uno Home Loans, Vincent Turner, maybe you could tell everyone where they could find you.
Vincent: Yeah, you can find us at Uno.loans, if you want to be progressive, or UnoHomeLoans.com.AU, that also works.
Scott: Awesome. Thank you for coming on. You’re such a pleasure. The charming accent doesn’t hurt. I’m really happy for your success.
Vincent: Thanks a lot, Scott. All right, take care.

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