Tech Pitch: habito

Having recently profiled Trussle, we take a look at another fintech start-up bringing disruption and digitisation to the old-fashioned mortgage industry

Company name: habito
Founder: Daniel Hegarty
Background: Hegarty started his fintech career at one of the original fintech companies, Wonga, where he spent most of his time building its decision and machine learning technology.
Based in: Whitechapel, East London
Launched: April 2016

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • habito uses technology to help Britons across the country find the best possible mortgage deal available to them.
  • Our technology analyses every mortgage on the market from over 60 lenders to find the best one for you in seconds. We have access to over 10,000 mortgage products and once we find you the right mortgage, we’ll be with you for every step of the application.
  • Using artificial intelligence, we’ve created a Digital Mortgage Advisor (DMA) chatbot that allows consumers to discuss their mortgage needs 24/7, from any connected device. Unbiased, free and fast, our DMA gives advice in a matter of minutes compared to weeks with a traditional broker.
  • Regulated directly by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), habito allows you to complete your mortgage 100% online, so there’s no need to speak to a broker on the phone or in-person if you don’t want to.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Research shows that consumers are intimidated by mortgages, and the outdated process makes it overwhelmingly difficult to navigate through an application yourself. We surveyed Britons across the country and found that two thirds of first-time buyers admit the idea of applying for a mortgage “terrifies” them.

And on top of that, one third of Britons don’t even know what mortgage they’re on, while a quarter of people suffer from a “mortgage mismatch”, which can cost people on average £4,000 per year.

That enormous financial incentive only motivates a minority of people to go through the hassle of remortgaging, while two thirds of us would prefer to pay extra than experience the mortgage application pain again.

To top it off, traditional mortgage brokers are time poor, usually charge a fee and are highly incentivised by a limited pool of lenders. As a result, consumers have so few options, they often settle for whatever they can get approved for. This is a direct result of an industry untouched by technology in over 30 years and neglecting the needs of today’s consumers.

habito is changing that. Simple, fast and honest, home owners can be sure they’re getting the best mortgage on the market for the first time. No jargon, no fees and no misinformation.

Is habito funded?

Yes, we’ve raised £8.2m in total, recently securing £5.5 million in Series A funding led by Ribbit Capital. Ribbit have invested in some really impressive fintech companies including LendInvest, Revolut, Funding Circle and Raisin to name a few.

In addition to Ribbit Capital and Mosaic Ventures, we have an incredible group of angel investors including Transferwise CEO Taavet Hinrikus, Funding Circle’s founder Samir Desai and Yuri Milner who contributed to our initial seed raise.

What were you doing before you started habito?

I spent the early part of my career as a professional musician, where I was a session musician, composed for TV and film, and toured internationally for many years.

In 2007, I became increasingly interested in the tech and start-up scene through friends. That’s when I joined a fledgling fintech company, Wonga, as head of product. I went on to hold several other positions as the business grew and became global, from head of decision science to MD of business lending & retail.

About two years ago, when I personally struggled with the mortgage process and almost lost my home, I knew there had to be a better way. So, I took my technology knowledge from my days at Wonga, did my research on the mortgage market and saw that the industry had been untouched by technology for decades.

The opportunity was huge and I vowed to make mortgages simpler, faster, transparent: in a word, digital. That’s how habito was born: a digital mortgage broker designed for the 21st century homeowner.

What’s the best thing about being based in East London?

We’ve just moved from an echoey room above a kebab shop without any air conditioning, where our team was falling over each other and sharing desks. Thankfully, we’re now in lovely, spacious new offices on the other side of Whitechapel.

Aside from that, East London is the heart and soul of the tech scene in London, and a creative hub – the perfect place for an ambitious tech start-up!

To learn more about starting up in East London, see our free guide.

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