Founder story: Mandeep Sodhi from Effi
The Effi founder story
It’s short for ‘efficiency’ and as an experienced entrepreneur, that’s exactly what Effi’s founder is focused on.
Here, Mandeep Sodhi shares his story about building a tech product that’s set to scale and how to keep your head down in a crisis.
In one sentence, what is Effi?
An end-to-end sales and lead management platform for mortgage brokers that cuts their admin time in half and doubles their revenue.
What problem are you solving?
Mortgage brokers’ lost time. They spend 10+ hours per client on admin – collecting documents, follow ups and so on. This hampers their productivity.
We save them time so they can focus on adding value to their clients and on securing more clients.
What was your light bulb moment?
Previously, I was founder and CEO of Hashching, an online market place connecting home loan borrowers to mortgage brokers.
We scaled very quickly but I realised mortgage brokers didn’t have a good lead management platform. We were sending them lots of leads but they were struggling to stay on top of them, using email to connect – email is not the right tool for this.
What happened next?
We launched on 30 June 2020 with a basic pilot product. We onboarded 20 mortgage brokers to get feedback while we kept building it out. Then we officially launched in July 2021.
As we began to scale, we realised there are bigger groups of mortgage brokers. We started being approached by them so now we’re piloting an enterprise platform with broker groups. We’ll be releasing the enterprise platform soon. The alternative for mortgage broking groups is Salesforce, but it requires ongoing customisation, which is very costly and isn’t tailored to mortgage brokers’ needs.
The enterprise version is exciting. As well as lead management, it allows enterprise clients to check their brokers’ performance in real time. It’s a performance tool as well as an efficiency tool.
We also provide leads to brokers because we’re integrated with home loan comparison websites. We are the only platform that does this – traditional CRMs don’t provide leads, they only manage them.
What stage are you at now?
We’re nearly at the scale up stage. We’re really excited about launching our enterprise version soon. After that, we will be able to grow quickly.
Fortunately, we don’t need to worry about the negative market noise about tech stocks. We’re getting good demand for our product so we’re keeping the noise out and our heads down working towards the next stage.
We’re very focused on evolving to remain the smartest most efficient platform for brokers. Right now, we’re in Australia but we are looking at other geographies.
How have we helped?
When founders are building a business, we need to focus on product and customers. Standard Ledger has helped me do that by taking other things – monthly Xero, BAS, bookkeeping, payroll – off my hands and by providing the financial expertise to take the weight off my shoulders.
None of us have financial expertise. With Standard Ledger’s CFO service, we can get that expertise without having to hire someone full time at this early stage.
This has been a massive help, including now for the capital raise we’re doing. We needed a good financial model, financial accountability and a CFO who can come to board meetings and talk about numbers.
What funding sources have you used so far?
Like most early stage founders, I’ve used my own funds and a lot of personal sacrifice!
I also started Effi with a tech company (iTelaSoft) as a kind of co-founder – they’re the second largest shareholder after me. This allowed me to build quickly because I could access their tech resources at a more affordable rate without having to worry about the global tech shortage.
We also raised $1.2 million in seed funding in early 2021 and now we’re looking to do a Pre Series A capital raise through strategic investors.
What personal sacrifices have you made?
Hours and hours of time! A lot of people talk about work-life balance. I don’t because it puts pressure on me to find a balance and I think if you’re enjoying something, you bring positive energy at work with colleagues and at home with family.
I have two young kids, so it does come with a lot of sacrifices. My partner has been very supportive but you have to stay on top of it seven days a week. If you start to feel burn out, you need to take a few hours or a day off and then get back into it.
It’s a big sacrifice financially as well in terms of salary in the first few years.
Do you have any advice for other founders?
I’m seeing a lot of panic in the market with founders worrying if they will survive.
This is actually the best time for founders to be building while bigger competitors scale back. Every big company we know now was founded during a crisis – either the dot-com crash or the GFC.
You’ve got to control your burn rate and let go of certain things that you don’t need to spend on but don’t be worried about the market. Stay focused and take a long game approach.
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