What makes entrepreneurs tick? We decided to ask Blake Janover, a serial entrepreneur. In our first post, we learned about his background and reasons for founding Home.Loans. Below is Part Two of our two-part Q&A:
Donuts: How did you choose home.loans as the name for your brand / website?
Blake Janover: It’s a terrific name, because it says exactly what we do: home loans. Let’s face it: a two-word domain is awesome, because that second word can be part of the company name, brand, mission, and keywords. We aren’t wasting any digital real estate on “.com, .net,” or something else that no longer really means anything. Our goal is to connect directly with home buyers and homeowners alike and to simplify the home loan shopping process, so our website name has to be synonymous with our mission.
Donuts: How does SEO fit into your strategy?
Blake Janover: We look to Google, the search leader, for best practices and the focus on user experience. Taking the user to where they want to go, where they will spend the most time, where they will interact the most. Google learns what you do and no longer relies on metrics that can be arbitrary or “tricked out” with backlinks, etc. Instead of focusing on SEO tactics to achieve incremental changes, the goal is to add deep value and improve the user experience.
Search is still the easiest, simplest way for a home loan shopper to discover us. That’s why the name home.loans is such an integral part of our brand. Our name is also a very effective, enduring competitive SEO (search engine optimization) moat. With this name coupled with our strategy, it’s as if I have all these scientists and engineers and super-smart guys at Google working for us. Their whole goal is to give people exactly what they want, to improve their experience and to connect all these dots in the shortest distance possible. So while others are out there trying to figure out the next widget to improve their ranking, we’ll offer awesome, helpful, engaging, useful content on a responsive platform and leave it to Google to make the right decision about where to send searchers. Ultimately we’ll be the best place to go for someone looking for a home loan – which is a heck of a way of letting Google, Bing, users, and the rest of the world know that’s who we are and what we’re focused on at home.loans.
Donuts: What’s your business model? (How does home.loans make money?)
Blake Janover: We haven’t decided that yet. This is about people before profits, a mantra I’ve used in other companies. We’re well enough capitalized to focus on creating something awesome before dollars and cents, but we are talking to some really special lenders and aggregators alike. Ultimately, we will partner with others who share our same values. We want to empower homeowners and home buyers to help them get the right deal with the best terms. The other side of the model is that we want to empower great lenders to connect with consumers to whom they otherwise wouldn’t have access.
Donuts: It seems as if home.loans is part of a larger strategy – you operate other websites, too. Tell us about that.
Blake Janover: Each of our websites has a similar mission: we offer a specific service and we’re very “pure” about that. We’re not a full-service financial services entity and trying not to be too vertically integrated – although I am sometimes tempted. So, multifamily.loans was founded to provide information and resources around multifamily loans – no more, no less. Same with our other sites like sba7a.loans and home.loans. We’re building trust and clarity in our relationships with borrowers and lenders alike. The Internet is fractured; sites are focused on pushing product before value. We’ll push value and education first. I’m at this weird crossroads of having a deep understanding of capital markets, real estate, commercial real estate, private equity, etc. and I’m also a total digital media/marketing geek. All combined, it provides me with the unique opportunity to deliver this platform, one niche site at a time, and to leverage my relationships with awesome lenders who are trying to improve a fairly archaic industry.
Donuts: Do you have a personal brand identity on the Internet? If so, what’s your domain name?
Blake Janover: Not really. The truth is that I’m generally a pretty private dude. I created www.microlab.media to remind myself of where I’m going and create some kind of cohesion. I recently purchased blakejanover.com and blakejanover.me as a first step in creating that personal brand, but I haven’t committed yet.