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Founders Everywhere: Nora Apsel
Nora Apsel is the co-founder & CEO of Morty, the online mortgage marketplace.
Welcome to Founders Everywhere, where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at Everywhere Ventures, a global pre-seed fund supported by a community of 500 founders and operators.
Morty is an online mortgage marketplace that provides competitive mortgage options and expert guidance to homebuyers. Their innovative technology seamlessly matches individuals with loan options from its marketplace of leading lenders and streamlines the entire process, all the way to closing. They have facilitated over $2 billion in mortgage loans so far and are licensed across 45 states.
Co-founders Nora Apsel and Adam Rothblatt are working hard to make the mortgage experience more transparent and easier to navigate. Nora’s trajectory to CEO was not the typical route, as she started as Morty’s founding engineer, then moved into the role of COO, and has been leading the company since 2020. She shares more about Morty and her founding journey.
How does Morty inspire “customer love”?
Our customers frequently mention in reviews that they appreciate our competitive options, transparent process and efficient service, all of which are supported by both our tech and team. While our technology is a real game changer in providing a better experience for homebuyers, the team support they receive throughout the process is important as well. It’s about allowing the tech to make the transaction almost invisible and then having an accessible and knowledgeable team when customers need guidance, reassurance or more hands-on support. It’s the combination of tech and team that we do really well at Morty. We also have loan officers nationwide using our platform for their work with clients, and we’re actively recruiting more.
Tell us about a recent milestone that Morty crushed.
One big milestone this year was launching our suite of embeddable mortgage tools. We took pieces of the technology that we've built and opened them up for other companies to leverage as well. This means we provide easy-to-embed access to various aspects of the mortgage process, really starting with the top of the funnel: pre-qualification, pre-approval, and understanding rates and affordability. As existing partners expressed interest, we decided we really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and offer our tech to a wider range of companies. I’m really proud of our engineering and product teams because they’ve worked quickly to scale our offering here and it’s been going well.
It’s also been a rewarding experience as a company and for me as a leader to evolve beyond just B2C by offering our embeddable tools and our platform for loan officers, which we’re really focused on right now.
What have been some of your greatest challenges founding Morty?
People always say that building and maintaining a team is one of the hardest things and that’s definitely true. After we raised our Series B I became really aware of this, as we needed to grow quickly. It’s really challenging to maintain a company’s culture while also scaling responsibly and fulfilling your needs. I think of a company as a living organism that has different needs at different times and it requires constant adaptation and growth.
I’ve learned that the right roles for people at the early stages are not always the right roles for people at later stages. The best example of this is my own trajectory from a founding engineer, to COO and now CEO. My job has changed so much over the past seven years because the needs of the company have evolved significantly. And it’s still changing. Becoming CEO was a challenge initially, as I wasn’t used to being so front and center, but I’ve really learned to lead with empathy and honesty. A great reminder I received when making the decision of whether or not to make this transition was “you get to be whatever kind of CEO you want to be.” I’ve tried to hold myself to this and ensure that my approach feels true to who I am and what my leadership style is.
What motivates you to keep going?
From my vantage point as an engineer, I’m interested in how we can leverage product and technology to democratize access to a variety of different financial solutions. It’s motivating knowing that we’re leveling the playing field and working towards a more equitable world.
If you weren’t building Morty, what would you be doing?
I would probably be working in the nonprofit sector. Previously I worked for a small community action agency that supported federal programs working to combat food insecurity. I have a lot of passion for nonprofit work, especially when it comes to women’s health and access to financial products.
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