News, announcements and more.

Apr 21, 2016

YES Alumni Success: the iRefi story

In 2009 three young men represented NZ with us at the FedEx International Trade Challenge. Seven years later, they are on a mission - to streamline the mortgage process and help more kiwis achieve their financial goals.

iRefi staff

In 2009 three young men took part in YES, and represented NZ with us at the FedEx International Trade Challenge. Seven years later, they are on a mission - to streamline the mortgage process and help more kiwis achieve their financial goals.

 

Chuck Slogrove, Paul Minors and Talman Madsen were three of the six Team New Zealand students at the FedEx International Trade Challenge in Singapore, back in 2009. They did the country proud, coming away with both first and second prize!

 

ITC2009

In the years since, they have each achieved some amazing things. In the past year, all three have become involved with an exciting new start up. Chuck is a Mortgage Advisor & Director, and Paul and Talman run Marketing & Client Support. iRefi.co.nz has brought the mortgage process online, and their growing team provide mortgage advice and brokering for clients from the comfort of their couch.

 

Where did your business idea come from? Did the team form first, or the idea? 

The team has been forming for years, way before the company started. Chuck Slogrove and Andrew Malcolm are ex Macleans College Students and their history goes back to their school rugby days. Chuck, Paul, and Talman are also YES Alumni and represented Team New Zealand at the 2009 FedEx International Trade Challenge. The team came together in late 2014 to create a SaaS company that helped real estate agents, brokers and professionals in the finance industry to manage their referrals process.

 

Referrals are a huge source of new business for these people and yet the process is extremely “manual”. Clients were screaming out to have an easy to use and automated way of collecting referral information from their existing clients and so ‘Broker Better’ was formed. The company went through Lightning Lab, a business incubator focused on technology start-ups, and ended up pivoting into the finance industry themselves. The team came to learn about the bigger opportunity in the market; to help consumers manage their mortgages online and streamline the mortgage application and refinance processes. In late 2015 the Broker Better idea was parked and iRefi.co.nz was formed.  We’re now working on helping Kiwis to save money on their mortgage by making it easier than ever to work with a financial adviser and apply for new lending.

 

What are your goals for the company? 

Our goal is to create an online hub of financial resources and information. We want to create the one-stop shop where people can manage their finances and grow their wealth.  With advancements in new technologies like artificial intelligence, we’re excited to see how we can revolutionise the process of giving advice. So instead of an expert giving their opinion on what to do based on current market conditions, a digital adviser can give a fully informed recommendation based on market data and accurate predictions.   

 

Are there any business challenges you have faced that you can tell us about? 

Our biggest challenge has been learning how to create processes that allow us to be more effective and efficient with how we manage our time. We want to make sure that if we choose to open the floodgates that our team is capable of weathering the storm.

We’re running a lean operation and of course, cash flow is a constant battle. It’s one of those things you learn about at University and think “oh yeah, that’ll be easy”, but it really is an ongoing challenge. Naturally we want to grow as fast as possible, but need to be able to cover the cost of doing this.

 

What is your team culture like? 

Our team is made up of extremely hard working and motivated people. You can see that  every team member wants to work hard and hustle to help as many clients as possible. Of  course, we’re a small team and anyone we bring in is going to have a big impact on the  culture so we have to think very carefully about the hires that we make. While we work hard,  we enjoy team bonding events, company walks each day and being able to work how we  want. Recently the team relocated to Mt Maunganui for the week to brainstorm the  company's vision. 

 

Who inspires you? Are there any people in particular who you aspire to emulate? 

As a team, we read a lot of books and like upskilling ourselves. Coming from the finance  industry we’re big fans of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger from Berkshire Hathaway. The  values they’ve instilled our legendary and we look to emulate their successes.    

 

What does success look like to you? 

Success is helping people win their battles. Many people find it hard to work out their  finances alone, especially their personal and mortgage debts and taking on investment  lending. Success for us is allowing clients to help themselves to free advice enabling them  to save $1,000s of their payments. 

 

If you could give one tip to other young entrepreneurs, what would it be?  

Validate your ideas as quickly as possible, don’t spend days or weeks building websites and software before you’ve talk to dozens of potential clients about your business idea, it’s much cheaper to test and cull and idea before you spend money. Once you find a business idea you’re passionate about, commit to it 100%, miss a few games/movies/TV shows/parties if you have to.