Lori Brewer, EVP and general manager at SimpleNexus, shares the founder’s story behind LBA Ware, a mortgage technology provider acquired by SimpleNexus in October 2021. As a female leader in the industry, she recounts the time and dedication it took to create a new company following the financial crisis and celebrates the invaluable competitive advantages the new acquisition brings.  

Interview Excerpt

Kristin Messerli: Lori! Thank you so much for joining me.

Lori Brewer: Hey Kristin. So glad to be here. So fun to do this.

Kristin Messerli: I know it’s crazy timing because I scheduled this before I knew that you were selling to SimpleNexus. So congratulations.

Lori Brewer: Thank you!

Kristin Messerli: Yeah. So excited for you. This is, I know has been a huge journey and now it’s perfect timing to talk about the pivotal moments along the way.

Lori Brewer: Yes, I have. I’m glad we’re doing it after, instead of before.

Kristin Messerli: So yeah. Being a very pivotal time right now, I kind of, I wanna start with why you started LBA Ware, but then take us back to this experience right now. So let’s start with what was the moment that made you decide to start LBA Ware.

Lori Brewer: Such a great question! I don’t, I didn’t have any like, uh, moment of, you know, great ideation. I was an accidental entrepreneur. I was a developer and probably just would’ve kept pounding away at the keyboard. And, but in 2008, the mortgage company that I worked for that was part of a depository bank, went in the, it was, you know, the writing was on the wall. It was headed down. We were all watching the “implodometer” for those, that remember that time. And, my company was soon to be on that list. So I left and used my laptop and it was a scary time and because my husband and I, we needed my income and just started

Lori Brewer: Pitching and talking to people in the industry that needed anything done. I didn’t worry about making money. I was just worried about getting some sort of contract. I always, I always say, if you can get your pinky toe in the door, and do a good job, then the money will come and that I really follow that. And that’s kind of how I just started out. I didn’t have to put any money in because it was just me, working, from my living room, with my laptop and, going contract to contract until I could kind of get some traction and, never, ever, ever thought that I would be a company with almost 50 people, that just came organically. It’s kind of funny when you return phone calls and solve pain points, the business keeps coming and that’s just what, you know, what we concentrated on and got to the point we’re at now.

Kristin Messerli: Yeah, that’s amazing. Um, so I mean, when you started, you were thinking about what’s my skill set, what’s a need in the market. And then there was this, the urgency around, I have to do something, is that right?

Lori Brewer: It was more, and I don’t know, you’re, you know, I’m far older than you guys. I, I had, this was the same feeling I had around 9/11. It was, it was scary. It was, you know, because my husband’s a pilot and so he immediately lost his job in 9/11. And then in the financial crisis, I lost my job. It’s a very strange time. And at, at that point, you just go back to, you know, making your payments, figuring out a way to make a paycheck. So I’d like to come up with something romantic, I had this amazing algorithm and I knew it was gonna make millions, but, you know, at the end, end of the day, it was, what could I do and who do I know? And where could I insert myself for the next project for the next paycheck? 

Kristin Messerli: I think that’s a way better story than a romantic, like, you know, epiphany or something. So I, no, I think that’s a great, great story.

Lori Brewer: But it was the best thing that ever, ever happened to me. I mean, I look back now, about that time, we had just had a third child and I mean, my husband was like, I think he like kind of Ashen white with the idea of three little kids, but it was the best thing that ever, ever happened. So it’s like you either take that leap of faith and go out on your own, or somebody kind of kicks you off the ledge. I was sort of kicked, but I’m so glad that happened. Because it was by far the best thing that ever happened because running your own business is so fun.

Kristin Messerli: So my last question for you is what is your vision for the future in technology, technology specifically in mortgage.

Lori Brewer: There’s so much happening? Um, I think, you know, from the perspective of EClose and RON, I think that area is really exciting. I think that there’s more to be done, you know, from a borrower experience point of view, but where I’ve always concentrated and worked more is what I like to call the lender experience. We tend to do a lot of, have a lot of, focus over the last few years. Rightly so and still should on making sure the realtor and the borrower and the LO are all kind of in one space together for communication purposes. But I still feel, and the data shows that unfortunately when you get the loan into the so-called back office, which may be somebody’s, you know, bedroom over the last couple years, but there’s still far too many manual steps.

Lori Brewer: So, you know, machine learning and AI and, you know, AI from the perspective of just more automation, I think there’s so much being done there and there’s so much more that could be done there. That’s where I think it’s exciting and it’s just, you know, mapping that all out and going through that exercise. I think people are making a lot of headway if we, if we can just kind of keep things steady for a little bit, with no regulatory changes. Maybe we can make some more progress before things change again.

Kristin Messerli: Yeah, definitely. Well, I’m so excited for you being so much part of this progress and change in the industry. And thank you so much for taking the time. One quick bonus question or thing I wanna bring up here is that we do have a new integration thanks to you guys, with Experience.com and I wanna give you a chance to just share a quick kinda overview of what that looks like.

Lori Brewer: I’m so excited about that. So Experience.com, Kristin’s company, formally known as SocialSurvey and the scores that are collected through surveys with borrowers, and real estate agents, we’re pulling into our VI, Lime Gear. And so what’s amazing is my years, you know, for LO’s that are ranked or president’s club, a lot of companies look at the volume that LO does, which is a big part of it, but I think it’s awesome because in Lime Gear you can do what we call weighted score, and you can pull in other metrics, which I think having the Experience.com survey scores in, right next to their volume, and maybe some other stats like conversion or pull-through or days, app to fund, you put all that together. And then you rank and look at your staff is an amazing, just, it boils down to a simple way to look across your, but like what better stat than what your borrower said about the experience? Like that’s the ultimate.

Kristin Messerli: Exactly. Oh, I love it so much because we, I mean, when I talk about the future vision of technology and mortgage, that type of stuff, it’s all about a borrower-centric experience. And I think that, you know, customers being at the center of the transaction is where we’re going and a lot of where we are right now, but if you’re not measuring that and tracking that and pulling that into, you know, everything in addition to their production, you’re really missing the, you know, future of the industry. So really excited to have that integration. And thank you so much again for sharing and being on this Pivotal Moments podcast.

Lori Brewer: And thank you, Kristin, for wearing your LBA love shirt. 

Kristin Messerli: Yeah. Thank you for giving it to me. So fun.

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