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Fastest Growing Mortgage Startups

Entrepreneur magazine's Hot 100

May 30, 2006

By COCO SALAZAR


photo of Coco Salazar

Shunning traditional mortgage lead buying helped land one company on the latest list of the fastest-growing start-ups. But it was a $110,000 investment which yielded its owners $8.7 million in sales during 2005 that pushed a 3-year-old Ohio-based brokerage to the top of the list of mortgage-related companies.

All the entities listed on Entrepreneur magazine's 12th annual Hot 100 were reportedly less than five years old but had annual sales exceeding $1 million.

Atlas Mortgage Services placed 71st on the ranking of the fastest-growing new businesses.

The Salinas, Calif.-based broker made an initial investment of $100,000 three years ago and its sales last year amounted to $5.2 million. The secret to its success reportedly is people -- "from clients to the receptionist to the top producing agent, everyone's role is vital to the success of the company."

Meanwhile, mortgage lead provider DoublePositive, which took spot No. 98, advises to "always respond quickly to the market and its demands -- don't argue with it." The magazine added that the 2-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based company invested $15,000 to start up and hit $1.5 million in sales for 2005.

DoublePositive said it was founded on the belief that the traditional method of buying mortgage leads as a marketing solution had become costly, inefficient, and generally outmoded. The company has its leads go through a patented process that adds a secondary layer of qualification, verification and screening for the highest probability of converting them into funded loans, according to its announcement. Its success with mortgage lenders can reportedly be applied to any selling organization that relies on lead generation.

"Being chosen as a Hot 100 company is strong validation of what DoublePositive has already achieved," said company Chief Executive Sean Fenlon in the announcement. "We have built an impressive customer roster based on powerful technology that solves a fundamental problem for sales professionals."

Way up at No. 67, the third highest mortgage-related ranking, was Equity Consultants LLC, a mortgage company that invested $75,000 to start up four years ago and generated $8.4 million in sales last year, the magazine reported. The Richfield, Ohio-based entity's advise: "Think BIG. The only limits to your success are those you place on yourself. Set high standards, and you will grow into your expectations."

The second fastest-growing mortgage-related entity was CommerceWest Bank, which placed 60th overall. The Irvine, Calif.-based bank, founded in 2001 with an initial investment of $10.5 million dollars and generating sales of nearly $11 million last year, said the secret to success is to "stay humble, and never believe you're the best, otherwise somebody else will beat you," according to the magazine.

But the fastest-growing, mortgage-related entity on the list was Apex Mortgage Services LLC at No. 56. Investing $110,000 initially and basing its operations in Columbus, Ohio in 2003, the broker generated $8.7 million in sales last year.

Its secret to success is that everything must start with great people.

"Surround yourself with great people, treat your employees with the utmost respect, and the results will follow," Apex reportedly told the magazine.


Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

e-mail: [email protected]


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