Blake Janover founded Janover Ventures when he noticed that many borrowers in the multifamily and commercial real estate spaces were not aware of all of the lending options available to them, which could be limiting their financial growth. He believed he had a solution.
Interview Date: 9th November 2021
To address this issue, Blake and his team started by creating a network of websites to reach potential borrowers. They purchased key domain names in the multifamily real estate space and leveraged search engine optimization to turn them into highly trafficked sites. These sites provide free education to borrowers about capital loans and all things related to commercial and multifamily lending. They also utilize Janover Ventures’ Intelligent Router technology to process online loan applications from prospective borrowers. When a potential borrower files an inquiry through one of Janover’s platforms, the Intelligent Router will connect him with the lender that can provide the right loan at the best rate. This technology is designed with both borrowers and lenders in mind. It helps real estate borrowers find the most appropriate loans for them, but it also makes it easier for large lenders to process these small loans more efficiently.
So far, Janover Ventures has seen strong growth in 2020. In Q1 alone, they funded over $80 million in loans through their network of websites. The company is taking steps to expand its technology as well. They are currently developing their Intelligent Qualifier and Intelligent Lending Platform technologies. These are slated to debut in late 2020. The Intelligent Qualifier is a user interface that relies on algorithms to streamline the application process for borrowers.
Since launching in 2018, Janover Ventures has seen a steady upward trajectory in revenue, web traffic, and loans processed. We spoke with founder Blake Janover about the challenges and successes he’s experienced along the way, as well as what to expect for the future.
A Natural Entrepreneur
Blake Janover has always been passionate about entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurship is probably in my DNA, generationally even,” he says. “I started at a very young age, the youngest age you can.” When he was 19, Janover began working as a ‘quant’, writing securities trading algorithms based on mathematical and statistical analysis. Soon afterward, he ended up moving into the world of real estate finance and running his own company. Never comfortable sticking to the status quo, Janover always focused on pushing the envelope with cutting edge technology.
Like many entrepreneurs, Janover changed course after the recession hit in 2008. He moved to the Dominican Republic, where he continued working as an entrepreneur. In addition to staying involved in the real estate industry, he founded a vitamin and supplement company. He also started a company that performed business process outsourcing. “We were doing all kinds of stuff for all kinds of companies, like customer service and sales and things like that,” he says.
It’s this curiosity and willingness to try new things that led him to Janover Ventures. While still in the Dominican Republic, Janover was discussing multi-family real estate with a friend. A quick online search showed that there wasn’t much information available about loans for multi-family properties. He quickly bought a domain and built a website, and soon that site was ranking on Google – indicating plenty of untapped potential.
He then decided to move back to Miami to scale his real estate business. He continued to work on projects in many different aspects of the real estate industry. In 2018, he formally founded Janover Ventures. “I took all these disparate things I was working on and rolled them into one place where we would focus on technology and reducing frictions in commercial property financing,” he says. “We’ve done some pretty cool things since we’ve started.”
Making Multi-Family Lending Accessible
What is now Janover Ventures initially started as a side project – wanting to make multi-family lending accessible to the real estate investors who need it the most. Janover initially wanted to provide education on multi-family loans. “I could build a super-helpful website, make it really well-organized and easy to understand because these are complicated topics. I did not expect to be number one on Google,” he says. “Traffic was instantaneous. People started emailing, so I made it easier to apply online… and then I started getting a bunch of applications.”
To scale the website to the advanced lending platform that it is now, Janover started by building a strong data infrastructure. Then, the company took steps to automate their lending process. By automating document requests, email introductions, and other key parts of the loan application process, they were able to reduce friction in the borrowing process. “We started scoring opportunities based on a series of data-driven factors,” he says. “Then based on the scoring would be to whom we distribute opportunities to internally and what lenders we match people with externally.”
Through this process, Janover and his team have been able to transform their websites into fully realized platforms that benefit both lenders and borrowers. “In late 2020, we hit the threshold of one million new visitors on Google, with a majority of organic traffic,” says Janover.
New Challenges: Growing Janover Ventures
When reflecting on his biggest challenges as an entrepreneur, Janover focuses on himself. “My biggest challenge is deeply understanding myself and what I’m doing, and then making good decisions by soliciting the feedback of a lot of people.” By committing to taking more calculated risks, Janover has been able to take important leaps forward, both in business and in life.
As the company is growing so quickly, there are many technical challenges ahead. Janover cites raising money and expanding his team to be two of the biggest challenges in the short term. “We’ve got to hire amazing engineers, like full stack developer rock stars, so finding them, cultivating them, integrating them into the team, may be challenging,” he says. “We have to hire more content folks so we can expand, so we can go from a million people a year to 10 million people a year.”
With the company growing so fast, Janover is currently focused on continuing to scale. They are currently in the midst of a regulation crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine.