COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Digital mortgage lender Lower quietly grew over the past few years to 1,700 employees and more than $300 million in revenue.
But Lower really got louder over the past eight days.
First, the Columbus Crew announced its new stadium will be called Lower.com Field. And then the New Albany fintech firm closed a $100 million Series A round with a Silicon Valley VC firm.
“If you didn’t know who Lower is, now you know,” CEO Dan Snyder told Business First.
Lower Holding Co., which started in 2018 as a brand of Snyder’s more traditional mortgage company Homeside Financial LLC, now is the parent company, Snyder said.
Homeside and other brands such as Lakeside Mortgage are in the family of companies served by the same employees, but the investment and growth are focused on Lower’s technology platform.
“To the consumer, Lower has been a rising star in lending,” Snyder said. “For the tech community, we were really under the radar.”
Snyder and four partners started Homeside in 2014. Partnerships with Realtors and homebuilders helped it win business. Although it and fellow brands have online platforms, there are traditional branches as well.
Lower is the next stage of evolution: It targets younger consumers used to managing big decisions within apps and offers all-in-one tools such as financial planning. The goal is to open homeownership – one of the most significant wealth builders – to populations that historically have been shut out.
“We try to provide no dead ends,” Snyder said. “For too long in the mortgage transaction, the barrier to entry is fairly high. A lot of people aren’t ready; let’s put them on a path to be ready.
“With us, you can start a savings account with three clicks of a button and start saving money for your home.”
The combined company is profitable and could keep growing without outside capital, Snyder said, but the VC round speeds growth and adds the expertise from lead investor Accel Partners. The Palo Alto firm was an early investor in startups such as Venmo, Bumble and Facebook.
“They’re not interested in running our business,” Snyder said. “They’ve got a track record of picking winners. … They take these bootstrap companies and turn them into world brands.”
The goal is to take Lower public in a few years.
The stadium naming rights deal, for an undisclosed cost, was in the works for at least half a year, months before Snyder even considered raising capital.
Snyder was first introduced to VCs while exploring ways to buy out the shares of a co-founder who is retiring, then expanded the vision to making an aggressive growth push.
“Before you know it, I created a deck and I was out pitching,” he said. “We ended up getting multiple term sheets in a week.”
The capital is mostly for adding to the engineering team, although some does go toward boosting what had been until now an almost non-existent marketing effort.
“We have big plans to expand here, big plans to be a positive influence for the city,” Snyder said. “Even though I was born in Akron, Columbus is my home.
“Even my founders who don’t live in Columbus love Columbus.”
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