Conversation with Alyssa Richard, CEO & Founder of RateHub.ca and ClosingCosts.ca
Most people I know love to read stories about entrepreneurs and their businesses. With that in mind, we’ve started a new series about companies and the people that run them that we hope you’ll find both interesting and informative. If you’re interested in seeing your business profiled, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alyssa Richard was only 26 when she started her business a few years ago. After several years in the corporate world, stepping out on her own was a big leap of faith, but as you can see from the conversation below, it’s been well worth the time and effort.
1. Please describe your business do?
RateHub.ca is a mortgage rate comparison website that helps Canadians find the best mortgage rates in the country and connects them with the mortgage brokers who offer them. We also have several education centres that can help all types of property buyers learn the ins and outs of the process, and we’ve developed a number of calculators and tools that empower our users to make better decisions. We monetize the site by selling leads to independent mortgage brokers, which helps them build up their own business by capturing a share of the growing online market.
2. How long have you been in business?
We launched in January 2010.
3. Why did you decide to start your own business?
I think I always knew I would start my own business one day. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been launching little side projects here and there – from summer camps for kids to teaching condensed versions of courses (essentially large cram sessions) to students at Queen’s. Before I decided to launch RateHub.ca, I was doing some consulting in the U.S., where I was introduced to three publicly traded companies that were comparing rates and generating leads from there. I did a little research and found that there was only one private company in Canada doing the same thing. They were doing a good job but I could see that there was room for someone else to do it better. And since I knew the model could work, I decided to try it.
4. What makes your business unique?
I think the fact that my brother (our CTO) and I work together is one thing that makes RateHub.ca unique. We also have people working all over Canada, which doesn’t work for all businesses but is great for us. I firmly believe in hiring people who are passionate about something – if that “something” is any part of their career, they will love what they do and work hard at it everyday.
5. What do you wish you knew before you started this business?
That’s a tough one. I don’t think I realized exactly how difficult it would be to maintain a work-life balance at first. Now that we’re growing and we have a great team of people, I finally have more time to see friends, see my family, go on a vacation, etc. and it feels great.
6. What goal did you have in mind when you started and has that goal changed?
As an entrepreneur, I think you need to constantly come up with new goals as you accomplish others. For example, at first I thought it would be great to start a business and be able to employ myself. After I accomplished that, I knew I wanted to build up the team. Now, I want to make sure we stay profitable, continue to grow both the business and the team, and make sure everyone is challenged and well compensated.
7. How did you finance your business?
Personal savings, sweat equity and angel investment.