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Anthony Rivera

Episode 42: Why Networking is Crucial to Building a Successful Business, with Anthony Rivera

With over 15 years in the technology consulting business, over 8 years in the medical device industry, and over 4 years in the financial sector, Anthony Rivera is experienced with developing systems that make businesses run better. What pushed Anthony into the financial sector was seeing the opportunity to help the economy. He believes that if businesses obtain capital for strategic growth they will hire more people and consumer spending will increase, lifting the whole economy. This personal cause set in motion a new business, where Anthony partnered up with over 5k lenders and developed a new software platform that allows business owners and investors to work with lenders directly.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How to be driven by purpose in your life and your business
  • A software platform that will enable businesses to raise capital more quickly
  • Networking to develop contacts that can help you move forward
  • Working with the right people for your business
  • Developing networking systems that consistently generate new leads
  • Creating a culture in your business that aligns with your mission
  • Using checklists to develop your systems for success
  • Developing secure systems to handle sensitive transaction data
  • Streamlining financial transactions and creating efficiencies

Ways to contact Anthony:

Podcast eBooks:

The Power of Two

Episodes 1, 2 and 3 collide to bring you summary of lessons learned and systems created around Vision and Key Initiatives that help drive success to companies and businesses.

The Transition to Automation

In Episode 25, Vera talks with Heidi Rasmussen, CEO and Co-Founder of one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies in America – freshbenies. This eBook highlights part of the conversation to bring out the best lesson in automation and on-boarding for startups.

Using IT Strategically

In Episode 29, Vera talks with Tom Grooms, Vice President, Information Technology, and Chief Information Officer for CF Industries. This eBook is your guide for seeing IT as more than just a faster way to do your accounting.

Transcript:

Welcome to System Execution, the strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company, but here, we’ll solve your physical, technological, and psychological systems issues by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their own business, and providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results.

Now, here’s your host, Vera Fischer.

Vera Fischer: Today’s episode is sponsored by 97 Degrees West, the brand marketing agency located in Austin, Texas. 97 Degrees West serves regional and national companies in the healthcare, finance, energy and manufacturing industries. 97 Degrees West believes that an integrated approach to marketing that involves traditional and digital strategies that fit your customer’s buying journey yields the greatest impact on your bottom line. Go to www.97dwest.com to learn more.

Welcome to System Execution, a podcast devoted to using processes and systems to drive to a better outcome for your business. I’m Vera Fischer, your host.

Many of you know that business success relies on systems. Systems can be physical, such as a warehouse or factory, or technological; think software, while others are psychological systems such as checklists, org charts, or your daily hot list.

My guest today is the COO and co-founder of Lending Lobby, Anthony Rivera. Anthony has more than 15 years in the technology consulting business, and more than 8 years in the medical device industry, and more than 4 years in the financial sector.

Anthony started his company, Lending Lobby, after seeing the opportunity to really help the economy grow. He wanted to help businesses obtain capital for strategy growth, hire more people, and helping people to spend more. His personal cause set a motion of a new business, partnering up and access to more than 5,000 lenders and the development of a new software platform, allowing business owners and investors to work the lender themselves.

Welcome to System Execution, Anthony.

Anthony Rivera: Thank you, Vera. Great. Thanks for having me.

More on Anthony’s Background

Vera Fischer: Well Anthony, it’s great to have you on the show. We’re going to dive into your process here in a few minutes, but if you don’t mind, my listeners would appreciate hearing more about you and your experience.

Anthony Rivera: Sure, sure. You know, basically, I started with a computer science background, and went to college; had a computer science background, and that kind of led me to working for small consulting firms to help businesses expand their technology. I actually use it in a different model, but I was using it as helping companies grow their technology aspect of how they operated.

I did that for quite some time, and then basically moved off and started my own consulting firm for a few years, in which I then merged with another company. From there, I basically sold my client list and merged with this company, and became operations manager there, a smaller firm. During this time in this firm, I managed a group of technicians and became very close with one of them, who unfortunately ended up passing away of cancer.

Vera Fischer: Oh no.

Anthony Rivera: Yeah. Cancer actually ran in my family, so it was very personal to me, and during this time … You know I’ve always been driven by purpose. I think purpose has always driven me in my career, which I’m very grateful for. I don’t know if you believe in the Law of Attraction, but this was kind of something that happened, and one day playing golf in a networking event, I ended up meeting someone who actually worked in the medical industry that, basically they make the hardware to treat cancer.

This was my move into the medical field, which I knew nothing about; it was a brand new career and I ended up moving over there. You know, it’s a Fortune 1000 company, and in this process again, I started in the technology world, and moved into the operations once again. From this point, I learned basically all the inner workings of not only how the operations work, but actually how it works from a Fortune 1000 company, which is a completely different animal than what you see in smaller business models.

I learned a lot, and I implemented a lot during this time, and finally one day, it was kind of where the market was hitting, it was probably around 2010; you know, we were still kind of in a low market after the 2008 crash, and I’m sitting, and I’m watching the stock market late night. I kind of just said, “How do I help? What can I do to help businesses thrive again, and what can I do to help money exchange hands again?”

I decided that the thing that I can do is basically allow businesses and allow people to obtain the capital they need so they can grow. Then I went, ended up going back to a financial institution to learn basically about brokering, about the financial gain, along with going out, reaching out to mentors, and working with some of them. Then that basically started my financial brokerage journey during these processes where I basically did things by hand manually, understanding what I had to do to protect my client, and essentially that is what led to this software platform that we developed.

How Anthony Began to Build His Platform

Vera Fischer: So Anthony, the software platform is soon to be public, and I believe you had mentioned earlier in about 90 days, and the time of this interview is the first week of August in 2017, and the name of it is Lending Lobby.

So you’ve got this great idea, you’ve got a lot of the nuts and bolts, the learning that you needed, and now as we move into the system that you wanted to talk about today, you’ve decided, “Okay, now I have to get this platform built.” Let’s start there, how do you go about figuring out who’s going to help you build this platform?

Anthony Rivera: That’s a great a question, Vera. You know, one of the things that I learned through my journey through the Fortune 1000 company is that a company is just basically a bunch of people working towards the same goal, right? And you can’t do it yourself, so I basically started going out and through my brokerage, I learned a lot about the financial game, and I met a lot of people.

I started doing some networking and understanding who wants to be on this journey with me, who wants to be involved in some, basically what in my head is what is what … it’s like a technical revolution because the finance game has been the same forever, and so what we want to do is we want to change that. As far as people go, I looked for people that can understand how to do brokering the right way, and then I came across, actually, my partner, which is my current day partner who essentially was building the same platform that I was at that time.

He had the same ideas; he wanted to protect his clients the same way, and he wanted to change the financial game just like I did. And so many months, many months going back and forth him and I, talking; obviously we couldn’t sign NDAs because we were building the same thing, but we eventually came to the conclusion that we’re, you know, we’ve worked together before, we’re on the same level of the goal, and so we just ended up merging and creating this great platform.

Vera Fischer: What are the odds that you would find someone and meet someone that was doing the same thing?

Anthony Rivera: I agree. The fact that he was building the same thing that I was building is kind of like a lottery, and what’s interesting is that during my process while I was building my own platform, with many of my partners that we still have today; you know, lending companies and some of the brokers, I would essentially pitch the idea to them of the software platform and find out, “What do you think about this platform? Do you think this would be helpful to you as a broker to your clients?”

Then I would go to a lender while we’re doing another deal and say, “Hey, you know what, I have a question for you. What do you think about a platform where you can see X, Y, and Z, that allows you to get these borrowers, you can see specific information and then decide, can you do the deal, and if not, then let it go, or if you can, put a bid in and let the borrower accept it?” Everyone that I spoke to thought it was an amazing idea, it was a great idea, it’d make the workflow a lot easier for them, and it basically is another source of leads if you will. The fact that my partner had the same idea and was building the same thing, was pretty amazing. I never spoke to him about it, so it was pretty amazing.

Vera Fischer: So Anthony, had he gotten so far as to start building the software platform, or had that already, was he already a little bit into that?

Anthony Rivera: He was into it, yeah. He was into it, and basically after seeing his platform and after seeing my platform, the way I described it to him is, you know, his backend, his database in his backend was very heavy, and my front end was very pretty. I described it as, “It’s this beautiful vehicle, it’s this beautiful Ferrari; the outside is very pretty but the engine inside is what really gets it going.” I think having us merge the product together really brought both the front end and the backend together to make an amazing product.

How Anthony Built His Team

Vera Fischer: So Anthony, whenever you’re setting out to build this type of a platform, or really any technology platform that an end user is going to use for a variety of reasons, let’s just start at square one and say, “Look, I really don’t know how to go find the person.” How did you guys find your group, your team, to get you to this evolution?

Anthony Rivera: Really, what it comes down to is, the people that we selected to work with us on this project are people that we had history with. We knew the specific people had certain talents, and those certain talents would fit nicely within our end result, and our end goal. I think we were kind of lucky on that front end, if you want to call it like an overnight luck. But it really took many years, many networking events, and a lot of relationships to really understand who would fit in this company to develop the product the right way.

Vera Fischer: What type of person did you look for, or what type of group?

Anthony Rivera: That’s part of the checklist that I had, you know, what kind of people do you want in a company? Someone who understand the financial sector of the loans and really understanding how to create a loan package; someone who is very personable, had great rapport with clients and clients loved working with them, was a big deal, because that’s kind of what we want to base our company on is the culture of, even though the software is essentially running the front end and borrowers may not be directly dealing with people in our company, all of the knowledge and all of the experience that these people have had is basically pouring into the software itself.

We also use people that are basically CPAs, lawyers, and direct lenders. To build this platform and to actually get it functioning the right way, we had to understand all of the different points, or all of these different positions that touch the platform to really understand how it’s supposed to function.

You know, is it easy for the borrower to submit their deal? Is it easy for the lender to see the specific information and then make a decision whether they can do the loan or not? Was it easy for a CPA who may be doing this for his client to put in specific information, so the lender now sees what’s the PnL, and what’s the yearly revenue stream? All of these different aspects of the software came from talking to all of these different partners that had experience.

The Checklist Anthony Used to Help Build His Company

Vera Fischer: So you said the magic word, and that was “checklist.” I would like to know more about your checklist. What all was on there? Is it on a piece of paper, is it on an excel spreadsheet? What was it?

Anthony Rivera: Yeah, well, it started on a piece of paper just like most things start, right? Then it ended up going into excel spreadsheet, and on the checklist essentially was the things … it started with, as I was doing deals myself and partners would do deals, I would ask them specific questions and then build this checklist so we have a model of, where does our software have to go?

It basically started right from the very beginning where it’s … After you have that client, what information do you need from the client? You know, is there an application? You know, what information do you need to understand their deal? Specifically, what information do you need in order to submit the loan package, right? Is it two years’ tax returns, or is it only one year tax returns? Is it six months’ worth of bank statements, or only three months?

Now some of the lenders have different priorities and different checklists themselves, so we try to … Over the years, we try to understand, what’s the medium; you know, where do most lenders land? And then that’s how we create the amount of documentation they need. There were also other things in there like security, huge, huge for the platform, and even for us as brokers ourselves is, one of the models is we wanted to make sure that our clients are protected.

The way that we transferred information? We never transferred information over email. We didn’t want tax returns, or social securities, or any of that jazz coming over email, because we wanted to make sure the client was protected, so we used proprietary secure drop boxes if you will, to do all this transferring of files at that time.

That’s one thing that we implemented into the platform; it was basically one of the first things on the checklist, was the security. In order to do that, we had to put in place specific securities on the platform, on the host that we’re using, on the database that we’re using. There was also, besides security, there was also the ability to protect the client’s identity, so one of the things that we went through as a manual process is, how do we shop the client’s deal without really giving any information to any lenders?

This is one thing that we want to implement, again, into the platform, is anonymity; the lender only sees the specific information that they need to see number-wise to understand if they can do the deal or not, and if they can, they can make the bid and allow the borrower to take control and say, “Yes, I want you to now see all my information. I’m comfortable with the bid you’re giving me, let’s move forward,” or, “No, I don’t want you.” Again, that was another item on the checklist, is allowing the borrower to take control by staying in the background and only letting certain information be viewable.

Some of the Issues Anthony and His Team Overlooked

Vera Fischer: So Anthony, in that checklist, was there anything that you ultimately overlooked?

Anthony Rivera: I would say there was. There was. Originally in the checklist, it was the time in which it takes to, I guess basically submit a deal. The original workflow that I had listed on the checklist, because I basically broke it down, it was a methodical process but every checklist had a header and then, there was sub-points for every one. The way it was listed originally just was a very long process for the borrower when they were entering their information.

That’s kind of the one thing that I overlooked was the time it takes for a borrower to actually submit a deal, could be basically the defining factor of whether they use this system or not. This was learned through actual testing, so once we went into an alpha mode where we started testing the system, and I even started testing the system myself, I said, “Well, this is a very long process. My attention is going somewhere else already and I just don’t have time for it.” This was kind of a rework of how the system should flow, how should they enter a deal.

Vera Fischer: Interesting.

Anthony Rivera: That was one of the biggest things for us, yeah.

Vera Fischer: Oh wow. Okay. But just by going through that whole process of documentation and that checklist, then ultimately you were able to pinpoint exactly where that potential issue was.

Anthony Rivera: Exactly, exactly. One of the other issues that we had … Well, it wasn’t an issue, but it was something that basically popped up is again, I was telling you I was using excel spreadsheet, and one of the excel spreadsheets that I had, another tab that I had were active deals. I would enter these active deals, and how much they were looking for, and what the spread was, and then I would start pivot charting or plot charting all of these deals.

That kind of led to an amazing feature for the lender, where they can now see some of the deals, or all of the deals that they’re doing based on a weekly, quarterly, yearly model and it basically plots out the chart; how much are they lending out? How many deals did they lose? How many deals did they gain? What’s the spread on every loan? We basically built a very powerful system for the lender to utilize that would allow them to really understand the full metrics of what they’re doing within the platform, and work both ways.

The Next Challenge for Anthony and His Team

Vera Fischer: That’s awesome. Well Anthony, to wrap up our discussion, let’s talk about what your next challenge is.

Anthony Rivera: The next challenge is really, it’s kind of the biggest challenge for us right now, is the chicken before the egg. What I mean by that is, in today’s world we are live. We’re actually doing deals through platform today with select few lenders, select few brokers, select few CPAs and lawyers. They’re all testing the system, there’s actually active deals running through the system today as we constantly make sure the functionality’s correct.

The biggest challenge now, or the biggest hurdle that we’re going to have is, really understanding which type of user, once we go live, which user do you get into the system first, right? Is it the lenders, or is it the borrowers? You can’t have borrowers in there without a bunch of lenders, and lenders don’t want to be in a system without borrowers.

Vera Fischer: Wow.

Anthony Rivera: Yeah, this is a huge problem that we’re looking. We have a bunch of strategies that we’re putting in place in order to come up with this, but this is one of our hurdles that we have for the launch date.

Vera Fischer: Well Anthony, you’ve shown us that processes are needed to get the work done, and have provided a few of the nuances that our listeners need to hear regarding the execution of a successful system. Before we go, let’s close out today’s discussion with any final advice you want to share, anything that we may have missed, and then tell us the best way we can connect with you.

Anthony Rivera: It basically comes down to really thinking methodically, and understanding the process of your goal, so really thinking through it; where do you want to be? I found that the best way to do this is thinking about the goal, and then working backwards is always the best way that I’ve learned because it allows you to really understand how things move forward. You can always look backwards, but it’s very hard to see every point that you need to hit looking forward. That is kind of what I’ve done in the past.

You can connect with us; you can always connect at anthony@lendinglobby.com if you want to get in touch directly with me, or info@lendinglobby.com for one of our specialists, to touch base if you’re interested in learning any more about the platform within the 90 days, or within 90 days, you can just go to lendinglobby.com and sign up, and start utilizing the system if you’re looking for capital to grow your business leads.

Vera Fischer: Well System Execution fans, no matter how many notes you took, or how often you re-listen to this episode, remember: every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome. Anthony, it’s been great to have you on the show, and thank you for sharing your insight with System Execution listeners.

We hope you found this episode of System Execution enlightening. For free examples, case studies, e-books, and more, be sure to visit systemexecution.com/resources. Contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on email at vera@systemexecution.com. Until our next episode, thank you for the privilege of your time.

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