TPO GO Account Executive/Team Lead Southeast Region Trey Van de Bogart spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about his entrepreneurial tendencies and his experience launching a startup.
NAN PRICE: Have you always wanted to be involved in a startup or own your own business?
TREY VAN DE BOGART: I was always interested in business. I earned my business degree from Southern Connecticut State University.
From the time I was a young kid throughout college, I was always finding different ways to start small businesses, whether it was drop shipping products or creating my own clothing company or buying and reselling other clothing items.
I always wanted to find a way that I didn’t have to have a “job.” So, I guess I was entrepreneurial. I never really knew what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to work the classic 9-to-5, sit at a computer all day, and report to a boss. I definitely wanted to have more control and have a bigger vision of a company.
NAN: How did you propel that mindset into what you’re doing now?
TREY: I kind of stumbled into what I’m doing now. My way of thinking definitely helped as far as having bigger ideas than just the job at hand and thinking about of how everything fits together. I started as an intern at the mortgage company TPO GO stemmed from. When I was displaying that mindset in my intern role, the company saw an opportunity to branch out into a whole other aspect of the market they weren’t taking advantage of currently. So, my mentality about how everything could work together to create a more robust company offering really propelled me into the position I’m in today.
NAN: When did you launch?
TREY: TPO GO launched officially on September 20, 2021.
NAN: What makes TPO GO innovative?
TREY: Our automation technology and our concierge service, Greenlight Portal, which provides brokers with access to real-time loan information, 24/7 support, and access to valuable resources.
Our products aren’t necessarily innovative in the lending space but our approach is. We provide brokers with much more than was previously available to them through larger national lenders, most notably through our Down Payment assistance program and variety of renovation programs. The array of specialty products we offer our partners is designed to not only help them succeed but also turn more borrowers into homeowners.
NAN: Tell us a little bit about the launch process and finding space. How did you end up in Avon?
TREY: Avon is the headquarters for the existing company. We just carved out a space within the office building. It was a natural place for the startup. We thought about going into Florida or South Carolina, but Connecticut made more sense. Our team is all here and there’s a wealth of talent in the area, which made hiring for the positions a lot easier.
NAN: In terms of being under the umbrella of a parent company, how did that help with the startup launch?
TREY: It was definitely a huge help. The existing company had all the finances and everything to back us in the beginning. I don’t think we could have done it without the existing company. We have all the operational resources and the resources to handle loans once they come in from the wholesale channel. We can determine things like, what to do with them? Who’s the underwriter to operate on them? Where do we sell them afterward?
TPO GO has very much a startup feel even inside our office today. We have about six people. And, even though we have the backing of the larger company, we’ve experienced a lot of struggles launching the startup.
NAN: That ties into my next question. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve been encountering as you’re starting out?
TREY: The largest challenge has been staying on top of so many moving pieces, from graphic design to web design to operational flow. Figuring out how to provide the best service and experience with our partners was a huge struggle to overcome all at the same time, all while I was trying to learn the mortgage market as I was new to this business. Overall, the help I got from everyone involved truly made this a manageable task that was quite fun no matter how challenging it was at times.
NAN: What’s next?
TREY: We’ll continue to grow our broker partner community and expand on both our outstanding technology and our product line. I’m a student of the mortgage market and am always learning more ways to better serve our partners. As the market is changing, we’re well positioned to help grow our partners’ businesses during the impending competitive purchase market.
NAN: Any advice for others starting a business in the Hartford Region?
TREY: My biggest takeaways is that fear of the unknown or paralysis by analysis will kill the overall vision. Making myself dive in the deep end and learn how to swim really forced me to do the things that needed to be done.
Also, never be too proud. Many times during the development stage I had to ask people around me for help or admit I didn’t know the answer, which is why I think this project came out so well. I sought out the best answer rather than pretending I knew everything.
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