Editor’s note: Startland News selected 10 Kansas City firms to spotlight for its annual Startups to Watch list. The following is one of 2021’s companies. Click here to view the full, ranked list of Startups to Watch — presented by sponsors Husch Blackwell and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Three years into working as a mortgage loan officer, Nomi Smith realized she was not doing justice to all her clients because there wasn’t enough time to shop all the private mortgage insurance (PMI) quotes available, she shared.
Elevator Pitch: PMI Rate Pro transforms the private mortgage insurance quoting process with innovative software that provides rates from every mortgage insurer in seconds. By quickly providing accurate quotes for homebuyers, loan officers are able to win more deals while saving borrowers money on their insurance rates.
• Founders: Nomi Smith, Luke Landau
• Founding year: 2019
• Amount raised to date: $325,000
• Noteworthy investors: Undisclosed
• Programs completed: Pure Pitch Rally, Digital Sandbox KC
• Current employee count: 7
“That’s when I knew I needed to create a tool that makes the [PMI] quoting process more efficient for loan officers,” said Smith, who co-founded PMI Rate Pro with Luke Landau. “When we created it, we found the industry was so in need of new, efficient tools — and it’s why we’ve been growing.”
PMI Rate Pro ensures that mortgage loan officers can provide their clients with the most affordable and convenient options, since it’s integrated with all six PMI Providers, Smith said. The average loan officer will spend 12 hours a month checking quotes, whereas it takes under a minute to do so with their tool, she added.
The duo started PMI Rate Pro in 2019, but their product wasn’t ready for the industry until March 2020 — the same month the COVID-19 pandemic caused numerous businesses to pivot.
“We’ve actually been able to grow through the pandemic,” Smith said. “I think it helped us because mortgage banks and lenders got super busy during the pandemic because the rates went down. For companies, they wanted to be more efficient operationally and on the sales side, so we came in at the exact right time for this market.”
The Overland Park startup’s customers include one of the largest wholesalers in the U.S., she added.
As a first-time entrepreneur, Smith was not initially aware of the charms and challenges that exist in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, she shared.
“When we created [PMI Rate Pro], we tried to turn around and sell it real quick. That didn’t work out,” Smith recalled. “We realized we’d have to raise money … I’ve been lucky to connect with a couple different programs in Kansas City — like Pure Pitch Rally and Digital Sandbox — and that has helped introduce us to more people.”
Click here to read how Nomi Smith secured $24,000 of funding at the 2020 Pure Pitch Rally.
Along with being founded on a premise to help loan officers and homebuyers, PMI Rate Pro was crafted with a culture of diversity in mind, Smith noted — adding that nearly 80 percent of the team are women who come from different and unique backgrounds.
In 2021, PMI Rate Pro is on track to be integrated into one of the largest loan origination systems, as well as one of the largest point-of-sale systems, she stated.
“We’ve also been listening to the mortgage market to get their feedback on how we can improve and to see what else we can do,” Smith said. “It’s really going to be a fast year of growth for us when it comes to sales and employees. So we have some big things coming in 2021.”
The Kansas City Startups Watch in 2021 list is made possible by presenting sponsors Husch Blackwell, a value-driven law firm with offices in Kansas City, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, though independently produced by Startland News.
Startups to Watch is now in its sixth year, thanks to ongoing support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.