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An AI-powered hero protecting homebuyers

Bryan Young

CEO and co-founder of

Home Lending Pal

Bryan Young, CEO and co-founder of Home Lending Pal, caught the entrepreneurial bug early. By the time he was 28, he had built and sold four businesses. Now, using his storytelling superpowers, he shows underrepresented potential homebuyers and venture capitalists alike how to grow the equitable-housing ecosystem.

How did you grow up, and who were your influences?

My mother was an Air Force dentist, so I was a military brat, moving every three or four years. It really made me a chameleon, where I can go into different environments and still feel comfortable.

I caught the entrepreneurship bug from my grandmother. She had a very rough upbringing and bootlegged liquor out of her house. I helped her manage the inventory and understand how to monetize it, and we had that relationship for many years.

You had a bunch of different businesses, even as a kid.

I started mowing grass when we lived in Okinawa when I was a teenager. When I was 17, I started a trucking company with my mother. Sold that when I was 19 to start a digital marketing agency, working on the 2012 DNC project with Barack Obama, and many other projects. We got acquired about a year after. Eventually I started Home Lending Pal.

The motivation for starting Home Lending Pal came out of the 2008 mortgage crisis, right?

We bought my mom’s dream home in North Carolina when I was about 17. We had an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), and the interest rates flipped at the same time the economy was collapsing, and we nearly went into foreclosure. We should have never been in an ARM — she was a military veteran, so a VA loan would have been the best thing for us out the gate. If this could happen to us, imagine how many people it can happen to who do not have the financial savvy that my mother and I had.

What did you see as the problem you needed to solve?

Data shows us that discrimination happens in many forms in the mortgage process. But unfortunately, some executives in the mortgage industry will acknowledge this issue, and some won’t. And it’s not just Black people; it’s the entire minority-majority census tract, women, and same-sex couples. Even if the industry is fair, the lack of trust and transparency creates a Byzantine Generals Problem for all involved. So, we wanted to say, “How can we use technology to make buying a home more equitable for everyone by creating a layer that they can trust?”

When I met my co-founder Steven Better, who had come from mortgage-loan underwriting, I said, “Hey, this is something that can not only make money from a business perspective but could also really make a difference in our society, our community, as well. We could really disrupt an industry together.” Our first conversation, in April 2017, would ultimately become the vision for Home Lending Pal.

So how does Home Lending Pal help address some of those issues?

It starts with helping a non-expert understand how to buy a home. Take five minutes to set up a profile and answer nine questions while we run an analysis on 24 months of your banking transactions. You receive an overview page to help you understand your likelihood for approval; your best loan product option; how long it will take you to close; and a network of lenders that provide the best opportunities for you.

The “ah-ha” moment was that if you can have virtual intelligence that can answer these questions for a person, if you can help forgotten or unqualified people, you can really make home buying a success for a lot more than the industry average of 3% of the people who reach out for information.

You are a huge Marvel fan. How does somebody like Tony Stark figure into your work?

His virtual assistant, Jarvis, is exactly what I want our artificial intelligence, Kev, to be for borrowers. Jarvis knows everything about Tony. He’s able to scan everything about Tony, provide answers and feedback, but also recommendations, on the spot, in real time. Kev has to be intuitive, truthful, trustworthy.

Everyone has their own struggle — everyone has unique hurdles. The better we can understand those cultural hurdles, then create automated ways for them to solve those problems, the better the platform will be for everyone. And the closer I’ll get to a Jarvis 2.0 for mortgages. Always comes back to Marvel!

What did you gain from the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator program that you weren’t able to accomplish on your own?

The amount of data security and data protection that IBM gave us was great, but it’s also the respect that we get now. When I meet with lenders, I’m usually the youngest person and the only African American there. And I’m hearing a bunch of people who don’t look like me tell me what the problem is and how we need to solve it. It makes people feel a lot more confident that when I’m talking about disruption, it’s not just this small startup with a CEO who doesn’t have a lot of mortgage experience.

What about technology inspires you right now?

The historical ways to build wealth are through credit and home ownership. But you have to show two years of consistent income for both of those. How do you do that if you’re a gig worker? And that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not making a lot of money, you’re just not making a lot of money with one company or with one project.

So that’s why I think that it’s about bringing the regulation into the 21st century to enable Millennials and Generation Z the opportunity to build wealth even though the way that typically historical underwriting happens today does not fit their lifestyles. 75% of them say they prefer a digital-first experience. Technology opens paths to explore from the safety of your home or phone.

What do you see on the horizon?

Ideally, if I can tell you when it makes the most sense for you to buy a home, I should also be able to tell you when it makes the most sense for you to get a car, to get a personal loan, to get a credit card, to consolidate your debt. I want our AI, Kev, to give you insight into things like that.

I want to be able to put a million people in homes who thought that home ownership was never possible for them. If I can do that, then at that point I’ll say, “Technology has allowed me to get there.”

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