From left: Jon, Andrew, and Eric (our resident selfie-taker) sharing their first official lunch as founders!
We're introducing our newest blog series, "Who is Valon." Under this series, we'll focus on the people and stories that make Valon the company it is today. In our first installment, we tell you the story of our founders—how they met and turned a dream into reality. Read on to learn more!
How did Valon come to be?
While working at the Soros Fund circa 2019, our CEO Andrew Wang was tasked with identifying mortgage servicers with investment potential. He couldn’t do it.
The mortgage servicing industry is complex, and many servicers make little effort to simplify the process for homeowners. Some servicers struggle to keep up with regulations, making mistakes with their homeowners' data and payments. In addition, the mortgage servicing industry is dominated by companies that rely on hidden fees and third party charges. All of these issues boil down to a lack of innovation and a lack of empathy.
Andrew realized there were no mortgage servicers he would be comfortable investing in. So he started fantasizing about building one himself: a tech-literate servicer that puts the homeowner experience first.
Now, to fully understand Valon’s actual founding, we have to travel back in time even more. In 2006, Andrew transferred to a new high school, committing to an hours-long bus ride to and from school each day. Early one morning, Jon Hsu, our CTO, climbed onto the nearly empty bus. Andrew and Jon got to chatting and quickly bonded over their mutual ambition, their shared love of technology, and, of course, their two hour bus ride.
Years later, Andrew recognized that the most fundamental part of starting a company would be to establish a team of people he could trust. So, while working as an engineering manager at Twilio, Jon received a text from his old friend Andrew:
Jon looked forward to catching up with an old friend from across the country. Working in the Bay Area, Jon was surrounded by ideas with the potential to be the next big thing. He didn’t imagine that this seemingly innocuous text would lead to one of them.
After a couple of conversations, Andrew went through the pitch with Jon, spending two hours running through terms and investor names. Jon's interest was piqued, as he was a homeowner who had gone through the mortgage process before (and understood the pains Andrew was trying to solve). At the end of the pitch, Jon had the same question as many undersupported homeowners: “Yeah, but…what is mortgage servicing?”
After some more hours discussing the idea, Jon was on board with rebuilding mortgage servicing from scratch. With two co-founders underway, securing a third member was right around the corner (or on the tennis court).
Andrew exercised religiously with his friend and future Valon CPO, Eric Chiang. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, the two would get together to run (Andrew was faster), bike (Eric was faster), or play tennis (deuce).
After a tennis match one weekend, Andrew and Eric grabbed some dinner at one of their favorite hot pot restaurants, Xiang Hotpot. Andrew started talking about the problems in mortgage servicing (even after two years, you won’t find a moment when Andrew isn’t talking about these problems). Eric already had a deep interest in housing policy after frequently discussing it with his wife, who was getting her Ph.D. in urban economics at NYU. Because of these conversations, Eric knew just how impactful this idea could be, and he left Google to become the third co-founder of Valon.
Andrew, Eric, and Jon started growing the Valon team immediately. They set the bar high, knowing that a great team would yield even more great people. And it did—within a couple months, Valon had a talented founding team of compassionate advocates for homeowners.
Like Andrew, Jon and Eric could clearly see the need for innovation in mortgage servicing. The three of them were ready to build something new, and so began the journey of the first big change to the servicing industry in over 40 years.
Where are we now?
Valon is rebuilding the servicing experience from the ground up and aspires to be a holistic financial platform for all homeowners. And we’ve certainly come a long way since our founding in 2019! If you want to learn more about what we do, check out our other blog posts and hear firsthand from a team that dares to change the servicing industry.
How to Improve the Mortgage Servicing Experience: This is one of our first blog posts where we share a breakdown of common inconveniences homeowners face that we set out to improve.
Being a “Homeowner-First” Mortgage Servicer in 2020: In this blog post we identify just how we intend to champion homeowners through intuitive UX and technology.
Hard Problems Series: Financial Literacy: In our recurring series, Hard Problems, we dive deep into the importance of financial literacy for homeowners and how we empower them by going above and beyond.
Valon's 2021 in Review: Here we recap everything we did in 2021 and how it aligns with our intention to transform the servicing industry.