Welcome back to the BuzzTalk hive! This week we’re buzzing with Alyssa Richard, entrepreneur extraordinaire and founder of RateHub.

You may recognize the RateHub name from the project pages on BuzzBuzzHome as they provide a handy list of available mortgage rates for all of the developments listed.

As a search engine for Canada’s best mortgage rates, Ratehub is certainly a great tool for homebuyers, but with their online education centre and savvy social media presence, it’s become much more than that. So without further ado, it’s time to chat with Alyssa about the entrepreneurial spririt, and of course, mortgages, mortgages, mortgages!


BuzzBuzzHome: On your website bio it says you have an inexplicable love for mortgages, can you try to explain what drew you to mortgages and what led you to found RateHub?

Alyssa Richard: I got excited about RateHub after seeing many similar, successful companies in the USA. Mortgages are the perfect match for me. There is an analytical component as well as an emotional aspect (buying a home), and many moving parts.

I have always been passionate about simplifying complicated ideas, and RateHub has really focused on this concept through our first-time home buyer Education Centre and clean, user-friendly design.
BBH: How did you assemble the RateHub team?
AR: I soon realized the passion of one person could not handle the work of a multi-faceted team. I brought on my brother, a Microsoft alum, to head up development and a fellow classmate from Queen’s, Kerri-Lynn, who was just returning from a stint in Europe.
The timing worked out perfectly and we came together as a force, each bringing strength to our respective areas. I definitely feel that’s one our competitive advantages, the strength of this team. We’ve since added to the team and hope to grow more in the future.
BBH: What does the future hold for RateHub? Any big new changes on the horizon?
AR: We recently added a profile section for Canadian mortgage brokers and hope to expand customer reviews to bring these brokers to life. We also think there are a lot of opportunities with bad credit mortgages and private lending. Not every borrower fits into a box, and we want to be able to help those with unique circumstances. We’ll also be building a new property in 2012, but it’s top secret. We promise BuzzBuzz will get first access to the press release.
BBH: Mortgage rates have been at record lows for a long time now, when do you think they’ll increase?
AR: Lucky for borrowers and the real estate industry, Canadian mortgage rates are staying put for a while. The Bank of Canada has indicated that it plans to keep interest rates low given the shaky state of North American and European economies. The American Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rates low through 2013, and Canadian rates cannot diverge far from American ones. Some people in the industry are even saying that rates could fall further.
BBH: Can you speculate as to what will happen to the Canadian housing market when they do increase?
AR: Housing prices and mortgage rates typically have an inverse relationship. That is, when mortgage rates are low, the cost of borrowing goes down and homebuyers have more buying power. This increased buying power is reflected in higher housing prices. The same can be expected when mortgage rates inevitably increase: housing prices may fall or level off. Of course, there are other factors that could shape the housing market, but all things being equal, this relationship holds.
BBH: What are some key qualities of a great entrepreneur?
AR: Vision. Building something out of nothing is no small feat. Once you have developed a sense of what you’re trying to create, you need to drive to that vision every day. Your ability to identify what small pieces need to get done every day to achieve the big picture will drive your success.
Persistence. Building a profitable business takes years, not months. Work you do today will pay off in six months. You reach milestones set in the early days only to discover how much work is still ahead. You’ll have days where you bounce out of meetings with excitement, and days where you think you’ll be out of business in a month. Persistence gives you the drive to keep pushing forward above all else.
Personality. In the beginning, starting a business will require you to be more resourceful than you thought possible. You need to do more with less, overcome obstacles with no apparent solutions, and your ability to motivate people to help you will never be more important.
BBH: When someone has an idea for a new company they’d like to start, what’s the first step toward making the idea a reality?
AR: It’s important to determine how big the market is and if there’s a good chance your idea can be successful if implemented properly. Once you’ve decided the idea is worth your commitment, you need to identify the next step at the margin. If you’re building a website, forget product development. Your first step is finding a developer. If you can always identify the next task at the margin, before you know it, you’ll have a business up and running in a few months.
BBH: If you had to choose only one social networking site (Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) which would you choose and why?
AR: Twitter. Though catching up on friend’s pictures are always fun, Facebook often reminds me of friends I’ve lost touched with, or vacations I’ve missed due to the start-up life. Twitter gives me small digestible content. I learn, I laugh and I smile.
You can follow me personally on Twitter @AlyssaJRichard or @RateHub_Canada, for industry news and fun commentary.
BBH: You’re an avid kiteboarder. Where’s the best place for kiteboarding?
AR: Maui, Hawaii. Before launching RateHub I lived (and worked) in a hostel for two months and kite surfed every day.
Thanks Alyssa for taking the time to buzz with us!

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