Stone & Chalk sat down with natural born leader Siobhan Hayden, Advisor and COO of HashChing, to talk about the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve adapted to change. Check out this Q&A with Siobhan to discover how HashChing created Australia’s first online marketplace for home loans to allow consumers to access verified mortgage brokers who can further negotiate a better rate from the lenders and save customers time, hassle and money. HashChing has expanded and currently has 12 people on team.

Stone & Chalk: How was HashChing born?

Siobhan: Through the quintessential pain points. So, the founder Mandeep Sodhi was an executive at one of the big four banks, had secured a great deal, a staff discount on his home loan. Then when he was boasting (he’s very humble 😊) to his very good friend, about getting a great rate and his friend shared that he’d secured a better rate than Mandeep at the same bank. When Mandeep realised, he felt betrayed by his own bank. He learnt that his friend had secured his great rate through a mortgage broker, and that nearly 60% of all new residential lending is introduced through brokers today. Hence the business was born.

Stone & Chalk: Tell us a bit about the model that HashChing uses to help people find better home loans, how does it all work?

Siobhan: So, at the end of the day whenever you are seeking a new home loan, regardless of whether you are intending to chat to your bank or talk to a broker, you inherently start your research online. Customers want to know a little bit about what’s going on in the market, especially what is a great rate.  But searching for home loans on the internet can be very confusing.  Consumers see introducer sites, variable rates without any discounts, comparison sites and promotional or headline rates with no benefits or features.

HashChing helps consumers by providing transparency of home loan deals and education. We allow customers to chat directly to brokers and ask financial questions via our ‘Ask a Broker’ feature and when a customer is ready to pursue a home loan, we instantly partner them with a local verified mortgage broker to assist them fully. Customers have the added benefit of advising “I’d like to talk to a broker at this time on this day”, so they book in the appointment straight away. HashChing then monitors the movement of the customer’s file.  From a broker perspective, we also provide brokers with access to great enterprise-based tech tools within their dashboard to assist them in removing or reducing the friction that customers currently experience in the traditional home loan enquiry process.

At the end of the customer experience, we encourage the customer to rate the performance of their broker using a rating and review, similar to Uber and Airbnb. Brokers that do not secure a great rating and review are not retained, but brokers that do well on the platform (conversion, ratings and speed of response) are rewarded with additional leads and services. Consumers can access the benefits of HashChing for FREE and we are passionate about helping consumers own their home sooner.

Stone & Chalk: Where does the name HashChing come from?

Siobhan: Ah, great question. So, unlike a small number of people that wonder whether we’re a drug company from China 😊 – we are actually a merger of two words, ‘Hashtag’ and ‘Cha-Ching’. Hashtag, because we know Australian’s love tagging things that they care about, and cha-ching because people shouldn’t overpay for the privilege of owning their home. It’s got good recall, that’s for sure.

Stone & Chalk: What makes HashChing stand out from other home loan services?

Siobhan: I think what we’ve done is really mould together a couple of the aspects that are really a pain point. At the front end, consumers are confused by products, and particularly where banks go out with a high-flag rate, but as soon as you start talking to them, they start to discount that rate. Depending on your loan size, your income, and whether you know about discounting, banks do or don’t discount the rate.

Brokers don’t get paid on what rate they secure their customers lending at, but on the size of the loan. Brokers therefore always fully discount the lender rates and high-volume brokers can also access preferential pricing, because of the large volume of home loan deals they introduce to lenders. HashChing showcases all the discounted rates direct to consumers, which is putting pressure on banks to stop showing their full flag rate.  Customers are getting more savvy and larger lenders will find it harder to get away with it.

The other great solution that HashChing facilitates and monitors, is the broker partnership which is the preferred service model in Australia. Nearly 60% of all new residential lending is now introduced to lenders by mortgage brokers so it makes sense that customers want to deal with professionals to facilitate the loan.  Everyone is time poor today, so it’s best to deal with a professional.  HashChing partners with great brokers all around Australia and our systems ensure that brokers are accountable to delivering amazing customer service through the customer’s rating and review.

Stone & Chalk: I know you’ve just joined us, but what would you say the next 6 months holds?

Siobhan: I’m really excited to be joining a coworking space, particularly Stone & Chalk, which is a pre-eminent space in Sydney. It has been a good choice for us.

Couple of key things, as a small business you work really long hours, I’ve used the analogy before that being in a fintech is like a kid running down a grassy knoll, a really steep hill and your feet are going underneath you so fast, you think “I’m either going to face plant, and fall, or I’m gonna scoot down the hill and go, “I’ve got that!”.

So, when you’re at that pace with a small team, things like little events, Sweet Spot, Chalk Chills, little events are nice to have already on your calendar, and we can then focus on our own business or team events, “It’s important to do lots of things from a team culture point of view.”

The culture is here, and it’s an entrepreneurial culture, and a supportive culture. In some traditional office environments, if you don’t hit targets one month people might say, “Oh well, when you get a real job” whereas in here, it’d be more along the lines of “don’t worry next month you’ll kill it, what can I do, how can I help”. And of course, you’ve got a ping pong table so that is a complete hook 😊. And we also have a desire to tap into intern talent at times, so being able to flex a desk here or there with a period of a couple months is really invaluable.

Siobhan: From a business point of view, we have a very ambitious pathway, there is no down time at all. I suppose in broad terms, we’ve got a cost to acquire a customer online, which in the mortgage space is a very competitive space. We are constantly looking at how we can deepen the experience and deepen the opportunity with that customer. Inherently, customers are time poor, so the question is “what else can we do for that customer during their home loan journey”, that can help them. That’s definitely a constant focus for our pipeline. And we’re on target to reach our initial target of settling $1billion dollars worth of home loans this month which is very exciting.

Stone & Chalk: That’s so exciting! So does that mean a launch?  

Siobhan: Well it’s a huge milestone, to have settled a billion dollars through the pipeline is complete and utter validation. We will be celebrating the milestone, and it’s our third birthday on the 1st of August. So, we are focused on reaching our milestone before our third birthday.

Stone & Chalk: What advice would you give someone just starting off in the fintech space

Siobhan: I think you definitely need to be passionate, because when things are going well it’s an easy thing to keep flogging yourself at, it’s actually the days and the weeks and the months where metrics in the business don’t seem to be working, and you’ve got to dig deeper, and deeper, and deeper. And measure more, understand more and validate any untested assumptions.  It’s the ability to be unbelievably unrelenting. Whenever you’re extraordinarily tired, to get up and go again. So, if you don’t have that in you, if you don’t feel extremely passionate about what you are doing, I would challenge whether the start-up ecosystem is the right space for you to thrive in.

Secondly, make sure that the pain-point you have identified is correct. Ratify it with people, to make sure you get a 360 degree view of that pain point, and in parallel make sure that the prototype, your business solution, is then solving that pain point. But overlayed on top of that, is there a revenue opportunity from delivering your solution.  It’s great to solve an existing pain point, but you will not get investors to invest their funds if you can’t scale. It’s difficult to scale off the back end of just your own cash flow, so you need to have a strong revenue model identified.

Siobhan Hayden is featured on Stone & Chalk’s Instagram TV, be sure to check it out!

For more info on HashChing visit their website https://www.hashching.com.au/