After a massive new funding round and a stadium sponsorship, the Columbus startup is becoming a household name
In the span of just a few weeks in June, Columbus startup Lower changed its reputation from a steadily growing FinTech company to a well-known name in the Ohio scene. First, the company made a huge splash as the first-ever sponsor of the new home of the Columbus Crew, signing on to a long-term deal to make Lower.com field a reality. On the heels of that publicity, the company announced a huge Series A funding round of $100 million from investors across the country. For CEO and co-founder Dan Snyder, it was a culmination of years of hard work.
“We’ve been growing like crazy, and it was frustrating at times to be one of the fastest-growing employers and hear people say, ‘Wait, who’s Lower?’” he said. “Now, overnight, we’re a known commodity. For us to be the naming rights partner is just incredible. When it was first presented, I thought, ‘This can’t be real.’ The story behind it, with the whole city standing up and saving the Crew, how can you not love it? So for us to align with that in our home community was a no-brainer. And then the series A funding came just a few days later. It was incredible.”
Lower.com is a one-stop-shop for all things homebuying. The site offers a variety of services all with the aim of helping more people navigate the process of buying a home, particularly first-time buyers. The site focuses on streamlining, simplifying and making the process less intimidating.
“Our aim is to make home ownership more accessible across the country for people buying homes and, for those who own homes, make it easier to refinance and do more with their home,” Snyder said. “We do that through a number of products like an insurance marketplace, a real estate network, a savings account and financing to help get people a great rate. We want to eliminate the friction of home-buying that first-generation homebuyers are wrestling with. We’ll be there to help them.”
The company’s story started long before their gigantic June. Lower launched seven years ago with the aim of being a next-generation mortgage bank, building a platform for realtors, builders and loan officers. They grew slowly and modestly, beginning in a small, temporary office space with five employees and eventually becoming a top-50 lender. But in 2018, Snyder said the team saw a shift in people’s attitudes toward financial services. As people were becoming more willing to use those platforms, it opened up a new way to improve the antiquated processes of many financial transactions, including buying a house. That shifted the company toward their current goal: replacing the old ways of lending and home-buying with something better.
“Traditionally, you’ve had these big institutional banks that do similar things, but they do it in a way that can seem intimidating, where you have to go down to the branch,” Snyder said. “For our parents, that’s just the way they did it. Our goal is to make that process easy and allow you to do it from your couch. We bundle the products so that we’re helpful no matter what stage of the process you’re in. If you’re curious because you’re renting and your upstairs neighbors are stomping their feet, you can download our app or go to the website and start exploring and getting ready to buy a home.”
With momentum on their side, Lower’s sights are set high. Even before the funding round, the startup moved into the beautiful former corporate headquarters of Bob Evans in New Albany, and hiring is moving quicker than ever. They’re now focused on rolling out new products, developing their current staff and continuing their exciting growth trajectory. And for Snyder, there’s nowhere better to be leaving their mark.
“Some of the successes we’ve seen recently in Columbus have helped us, like CoverMyMeds and Root Insurance and Olive, who have raised big funding and have had big exits,” he said. “It created some comparisons in the market, and our aim is to do the same. We want to be the next unicorn in Columbus. And one of the great things about Columbus is the support for businesses from both the government and the community. This city has great people, huge universities and a community that wants to foster talent. Not to mention perks like not having as much traffic and the economic benefits of a lower cost of living. We just love it here!”