Things like engineering and quantitative finance always came pretty naturally to tech entrepreneur Sahil Gupta. But he wanted to combine both worlds to create empowering tools for everyday investors and consumers. For Gupta, finding the right recipe required having an open mind–and some guile and guts that most young immigrant entrepreneurs seem to possess.
Gupta immigrated from India to the U.S. in 2006 to attend Carnegie Mellon University and pursue a Master of Science in Computational Finance. When he started his career on Wall Street in 2008, he had a front row seat to the housing crisis and witnessed first hand the collapse of major banks. The worldwide economic crisis forced him to snap out of the traditional finance mindset and expand his horizons.
“In the aftermath, Wall Street emerged unscathed but lifetime savings and housing wealth of millions of Americans evaporated,” says Gupta. It drove him to quit his job and join Motif, a startup that empowered investors with tools normally reserved for the 1% and high-net-worth investors. He helped build a platform that democratized investing and enabled retail investors to generate strong returns, with Motif recently acquired by Charles Schwab.
His first startup job was an eye-opening experience: “I saw that most consumers are House Rich, Cash Poor, with up to 80% of their wealth locked in home equity. In order to get rid of issues such as house affordability, the income gap, lack of savings, we needed to make access to home equity easy, affordable, and debt-free. That inspired me to start Noah in 2018.”
According to Gupta, homeowners are sitting on more than $6 trillion worth of tappable home equity yet the convention is they have to take out another loan and take on more debt just to access it. Noah.co is spreading the word about another option: a Home Value investment. The platform allows people to tap into their home equity without incurring new monthly payments or interest, and is able to provide homeowners with up to $350,000 in funding in exchange for a share of their home equity.
“Investors are excited about the opportunity to tap into the growth in Single Family Residential real estate,” says Gupta, “as well as the opportunity to help people who are underserved by traditional banks: small business owners, retirees, and growing families who are seeking to tap into the wealth in their home to reach their financial objectives.”
But the meltdown wasn’t his only muse. As his company celebrates its five-year anniversary, Gupta shares the true origins of Noah, and what he’s learned along the way:
What was it like leaving the world of corporate finance for Silicon Valley?
As the first entrepreneur in my family, leaving the relative stability of a job and putting all my savings into a business venture was a significant risk. As an immigrant founder, I overcame significant adversity from the investor community to build Noah into a consumer finance platform. Despite that, we’ve raised tens of millions of dollars in venture and hundreds of millions of platform capital to improve the lives of US homeowners.
What kind of growth have you experienced since launching in 2016?
Over the past two years Noah has had 10x growth and helped everyday Americans achieve $1,500 in monthly cash-flow savings. We’ve helped homeowners manage more than $300 million of real estate assets via our platform and built $25 million in home equity wealth since they’ve partnered with us.
When you look back at your entrepreneurial journey, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the diverse set of homeowners Noah has been able to help over the years. In fact 54% of our homeowner partners are underbanked and have used Noah to protect their homes, including roughly a third of our homeowners who are self-employed or own small businesses.
You mentioned the mortgage meltdown of 2008 led you down this path. But what personal life experience inspires you day-to-day?
Noah was inspired by my family struggle in 1982 to build a family home in India. My father put all his life savings into it and yet needed financial assistance to complete the construction. He ended up taking help from my uncle in the form of an equity investment in the home, in order to avoid taking on high interest debt. The house remained in our family for 37 years and my uncle’s investment paid off handsomely based on the home’s appreciation. My father was able to create a life and family home for us without the burden of monthly payments.
Your company originally launched as Patch Homes in 2016 and then relaunched as Noah in 2020. Why did you rebrand and what did you learn from the process?
The word Noah is synonymous with journey. And as a company dedicated to partnering with consumers one-on-one meeting them wherever they are on their homeownership journey and helping to bring them peace of mind, there seemed to be no better name than Noah. When we saw that Noah.co was an available domain we jumped on it also has the benefit of being brief and memorable.
Noah has proven you can build a business using a .co as your primary domain. We help reinforce that by repeating our URL throughout our marketing materials and customer experience.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Sometimes a journey takes longer than expected so enjoy the journey and be optimistically persistent to reaching your destination.