Q&A: Omar Jordan starts his second startup Lenderclose

Omar Jordan—Founder of Lenderclose—with his wife Shawna and daughter Isla Jordan. Photo courtesy of Omar Jordan

Omar Jordan understands real estate lending.

And because he was tired of working in corporate America, Omar Jordan set out to do his own thing in 2009 to help local lenders.

After starting National Loan Closings and $17 million in sales, he’s starting over but keeping the same mission.

So Jordan started Lenderclose in 2015, to merge technology into an industry that is primarily relationship-based.

“They utilize email and fax and I thought this was so 1992,” Jordan says. “So I put together this concept of building a platform where lenders can sign up and everything is there. There’s no relationship building, we have the top lenders in the country on this platform and they just go in and start ordering products that they need to create a loan.”

Clay & Milk spoke with Jordan to hear how Lenderclose was started, what challenges he’s facing with raising capital and how the Des Moines startup ecosystem has supported him.

Explain your career in the lending industry

OJ I’ve always had this sales mindset and somebody invited me to be a loan officer somewhere, so I thought I would give it a shot. I’ve sold vacuums for many years but didn’t know I could sell white-collar type product.

How’d you do?

OJ I was the number one loan officer in the state of Iowa for many years and got invited to manage a branch in Cedar Rapids. So I managed that branch and got another opportunity. So they gave me the top performing branch in Iowa. So to me I thought well, this is going to be easy. The hardest part about success is maintaining success. We’re growing, but now how to we maintain it? In the beginning it was surreal but I did it, we grew it to number one in the country out of Des Moines.

So you started your own company?

OJ I decided I didn’t want to work for corporate America anymore, I wanted to do my own thing. So I started a company called National Loan Closings, which still operates, and since 2009 until now we’ve done $17 million in sales, we close about 3,000 loans per month and can get up to 5,000 if rates are low.

My brother runs it now and now I’m focusing on Lenderclose. I started it in 2015 because I saw a need for technology in the lending world.

What makes Lenderclose different?

OJ We don’t charge licensing fees, no setup fees, no contracts or minimum requirements. We charge per order, so if you order a product, we just bill you for that at the end of the month. That’s what is attractive about Lenderclose, there are no monthly fees or licensing fees. That becomes expensive for the community lender.

Why did Lenderclose come to life?

OJ To allow the local lenders to compete with companies like Rocket Mortgage, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. I feel like local lending is going to be extinct if they don’t adapt to technology. You’ve got to start accepting the fact that technology is going to help you convert loans faster and compete with national brands. We are adding four to eight lenders per month right now.

And we are in the middle of raising capital.

Have you ever raised capital?

OJ I have never raised capital before and boy it’s tough. People don’t just write you checks and I thought they did if you had a great idea, they’d give you $50,000. But it’s not that easy.

How do you balance raising capital, with work?

OJ The question always is, what do we do first, the chicken or the egg? So do I stay in the office and make calls or do I go spend four hours at a startup meeting.

I have emailed probably 2,000 angel investors nationwide but then again, I don’t think email is the way to do it. You’ve got to get out there and meet them, they have to trust you. I wonder how many emails they get.

So I’m having a hard time balancing this, is it the egg or the chicken, which one do you do first?

Does having sales experience help?

OJ It’s about having a conversation, finding out what they want and telling them what you have and see if there’s a need for it. We don’t use the car salesman approach, we have a great technology that everybody should be using, our conversion rate is probably 60-80 percent, so if we show ten demos, 6-8 will sign up. So the product sells itself, we just tell the story.

But being a salesmen does help, and I’m not the best salesmen, I just go to work and show up.

Has the Des Moines startup community helped?

OJ Absolutely, we take pride in where we are at, you just hear positive things about Des Moines and how it’s a great place for startups, and it is. I speak from experience, this is my second startup. My first startup did $17 million in sales this one is going to be a $30-$40 million company in sales per year, within the next 5-7 years.

So I’m going to get it there, but Des Moines is the best place for a startup there’s no question about it.