Valocity is an example of how a small, New Zealand-owned startup can use cutting-edge marketing, technology and business practices to develop a game-changing product that has changed the way a relatively conservative industry operates, says its CTO Nathan Scott.
Prior to Valocity, the New Zealand mortgage valuation software sector provided limited choice and non-tailored approach to product development.
Valocity, he says, has revolutionised the way its clients provide a core service (lending) to its customers.
Valocity supports the end-to-end process, allowing consumers to start their mortgage journey on myvalocity and then engage with their lender. The proprietary datasets developed are custom-built and are the highest quality source of property information available, he says.
He says the company differentiates itself by using advanced analytics, using the latest technology to make complex data easily available to users via a real-time, digital platform that’s device agnostic.
“Our success is measured through the growth of the company into other markets and being the largest platform connecting an entire ecosystem of valuers, lenders, brokers and consumers.”
Over the last two years, Valocity has grown internationally, opening offices in Australia in 2017, and in India in 2018.
Through all these, he says, they continue to innovate the Valocity platform.
He says these innovations include continual use of agile methodology for fortnightly releases, and providing entirely cloud-based, customisable and configurable software that links and updates multiple disparate data sets.
“The design and UX centres around seamless and intuitive workflows meaning, meaning no training is required,” he says.
The Valocity platform is built to enable API connecting through model modules.
It is the first of its kind in New Zealand and is used by most of our country’s banks, he says.
The platform allows users to access information on any address in real-time. They can also get customisable reports, allowing a full-market valuation inspection to be ordered electronically.
The team also also has a consumer facing site called ‘myValocity’ which provides access to free or discounted reports, branded for a bank. Consumers can start their own research and then ‘click-to-share’ with their bank.
He points out little has changed in mortgage lending in the past few years, yet, two global trends have emerged.
Post GFC, there has been increased regulatory compliance and focus on best practice. There is also a need for digital innovation to deliver customer centricity, he states.
“Customers now compare banks to global brands such as Amazon and Uber, and expect similar seamless, relevant experiences.”
“Our approach has been to use data, information gathering and validation to make things easier for the lender, its bank staff, the broker, advisor and the valuer by digitising the mortgage lending and eliminating the need for emails, faxes, pdfs and phone calls,” he states.
Working in a tech-led company means Scott plays an integral role within the organisation and leadership team locally, in Australia and India.
“We have three country managers and I also sit across each of their programmes of work to ensure consistency,” he says.
He notes that each country is not a carbon copy of the New Zealand business, with each jurisdiction requiring adaptation.
In Australia, we had to develop a substantial part of the business to reflect the different environment, relationships and the need for different levels of security.
The challenge in India is more substantial as valuations have largely been undocumented in the past. But this is transforming quickly, he says.
His role is across all these developments to make sure they can scale.
They have migrated their systems to Azure Services in Australia and India. New Zealand, they are using Stack, one of the first local organisations to do so.
“As we have developed overseas, we have continuously learned new lessons that are repatriated back to New Zealand to help us improve our platform continuously,” he says.
“As CTO I play the role of the main technology link, between the potential of what’s available and the realisation of this for Valocity,” he states.
“A tech-led business like Valocity needs this ingrained technology mindset. Our senior management has this, but I am the main advocate or gatekeeper for the technology we use for our world class solution.”
He says with a rapidly growing company, they have to focus on culture.
The most significant recent development in this space has been their implementation of a squad culture.
“We have always run an agile organisation, an approach that has enabled us to evolve swiftly,” says Scott. “However, this year we reached a point when our numbers were hindering us being as nimble as we would like.”
They now have four squads based in New Zealand, and one in India.
Each squad includes project leaders, BAs, developers and testers, and has around seven people, led by an executive team member.
These squads will stay together to create country focused initiatives that will then be deployed. Lessons are then used to enhance the solution prior to the next fortnightly release, or what they call “two-week sprints”.
“All work is developed on a SaaS platform to enable duplication across markets,” says Scott.