Startup snapshot: MortgageMe believes South Africa’s home loan industry is ripe for disruption

MortgageMe is a fully automated home loan aggregation platform, based in South Africa. Director Andrea Tucker answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

MortgageMe acts as an online marketplace that places one party (a home buyer) in touch with another (a bank offering a home loan). In doing so, it puts home loan origination directly in the hands of home buyers through a fully digital and transparent application process. We’ve simplified a historically difficult and time-consuming process by taking the physical paperwork and guesswork out of applying for a bond. We’ve utilised our suite of back-end digital onboarding services to make it as easy as possible for someone to navigate through a single application, which we submit instantly to four banks.

2. How did you finance your startup?

It was financed through our holding company, e4.

3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

A massive above the line marketing and targeted digital advertising campaign. The essence behind building a successful platform is a drive to create meaningful and credible engagement between parties, where the parties can benefit from an optimised process, quality, trust and transparency. But these benefits are only realised when you can get enough people to your platform, and when they’re there, you need them to engage. For a platform like MortgageMe, that engagement also needs to happen at a very specific point in time (when a home-buyer has just signed their offer to purchase) – but brand awareness and continual recognition is so important prior to that point.

We believe that the application process speaks for itself when it comes to creating a customer experience that is frictionless and simple, but a broad and all-encompassing marketing campaign would bring enough visitors to the platform to experience the process we’ve built.

4. What risks does your business face?

The home loan industry has been ripe for disruption for many years, and we’re aware of a number of competing websites that are currently in development or have recently launched. But we firmly believe that we were able to launch a platform aligned to our original vision for MortgageMe – “To create a platform that digitises the application process for a home loan through end-to-end automation” – and we’re confident that the platform will set industry standards.

We’re also obviously at the mercy of the South African economy, and we need South Africans to continue to invest in property, while approaching all credit decisions responsibly.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

We’ve focused our marketing efforts on a growth hacking strategy in the months following our launch in 2019. Growth hacking has proven successful for early-stage startups who require significant growth in a short time, and on a small budget. This is essential for that phase when you’re pushing most of your budget into development to get the best version of your platform ready for market.

We’ve used creative, low-cost strategies to help the platform to acquire and retain customers – this content marketing strategy has proven to be a low-cost way to get the word out about our platform. We’re pretty confident now about the message we’d like to get out, what imagery and content speaks to our target market, and 2020 is about getting that message out at the right time – talking to home buyers at the point of signing an offer to purchase.

6. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what have you’ve learnt from it?

“Do what you do, and do it well” – e4 (our holding company) made mistakes in the past to not focus on what we’re good at, and have had a few failed initiatives by simply missing the mark on what we’d intended to develop. With MortgageMe, we made an important strategic decision to partner with a company in the development phase who were good at the things we were not – concept development, UX and design, while we focused on the back-end integration of our services into the platform.