Perch is a tech company focused on empowering Canadians on their homeownership journey to build wealth through real estate, by transforming financial data into actionable insights which can help optimize a buyer’s path to homeownership. Once a homeowner, we enable them to build wealth by putting their home equity to work. All of this is made possible through a highly skilled network of professionals and our proprietary analytics platform.
Our proprietary analytics platform shows users the financial insights they need to make the right decision today, or in the future. The platform enables users to independently proceed through a pre-approval or mortgage application, with on-demand 1:1 support from their dedicated mortgage advisor as needed. Through this platform, Perch also enables collaboration and increases efficiency between real estate professionals (brokers, agents, lawyers) by reducing the follow-up communication needed between all parties.
We are the only platform in Canada that empowers users to access this much insight relating to new home purchases and existing homes without needing to rely on someone to provide all the required information.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m Alex Leduc, the CEO and founder of Perch. Prior to starting Perch, I worked in the real estate sector for 8 years in various corporate finance, strategy and analytics roles. In addition to hands-on experience in the industry, I graduated from the Ivey Business School (Western University) and am a CFA Charterholder. I am also a Technical Advisory Committee Member of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) and Co-Chair of the Canadian Lenders Association Mortgage Roundtable.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
When I first started Perch, I remember sitting in a working session through one of the incubators, and they emphasized the importance of properly setting up your business. I wholeheartedly agree that you should seek legal, accounting and other services to cover the fundamentals. However, I don’t think every service they suggested was necessary.
The one in particular that sticks out to me is a trademark. For those of you unfamiliar with a trademark, to file a trademark, you need to have a name for your business and a clear description of what your business does. On top of that, most trademarks take 2-3 years to process and won’t be issued until then. When you start a company, it’s next to impossible for you to guarantee your name or services won’t change in that time frame.
This resulted in thousands of dollars wasted on legal fees and a lot of my time pursuing a trademark that was recommended by that legal team, which we didn’t even end up using. Two and a half years later, we decided to rebrand our company name, and our company had evolved so much that our service description was no longer even relevant.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t seek expert advice on complicated matters, but rather that you should evaluate every professional service as an expected value. Relative to the cost, what is the probability that the risk will occur and what would that risk cost you? If the expected value is less than the cost, you can put it off until later.
What problem does your business solve?
Canadians aren’t able to easily build wealth through homeownership, and this is because of two underlying problems:
- It is increasingly difficult to become a homeowner. Due to a variety of factors, we’re seeing declining homeownership rates for younger Canadians, and they’re seriously concerned about ever being able to buy their ideal home. In fact, 77% of Canadians polled in 2020 expressed a lack of confidence in being able to afford the home they want.
- Homeowners aren’t leveraging their property’s full potential. 40% of Canadian net worth is tied up in real estate, and many enter retirement with very few assets other than their home. This results in punitive forms of financing such as home equity lines of credit, reverse mortgages, private mortgages and more.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
While working in the financial sector, I saw first-hand how disconnected the system was. Amongst other things, stakeholders didn’t have access to equal levels of information, any self-proclaimed “expert” was able to give advice to people regardless of how bad that advice was, a pessimistic outlook for future home buyers where home ownership is viewed as an unachievable goal and an overreliance on home equity for retiring Canadians that have insufficient liquid assets to fund their retirement. After validating that nobody was addressing these issues holistically, I set out to do it myself in 2018.
The goal was to create an ecosystem that looked to serve the client first, not the interests of those involved. In this ecosystem, being able to create a collaborative network of the right professional and overlay analytics in areas where it’s needed increases the likelihood of a customer making an informed decision and achieving their goals.
What is your magic sauce?
We go beyond just offering mortgages, we have the only platform in Canada that empowers users to optimize their path to homeownership and then maximize the wealth they have as homeowners. Our focus on balancing technology and expert advice enables us to create a better outcome for everyone involved.
Our platform combines customized insights with educational content to enable our users to truly understand the optimal path to becoming a homeowner or ways they can leverage existing home equity. Along the way, we also offer a vetted network of professionals who are highly skilled in their roles as brokers, Realtors, and lawyers but don’t have the time to work on customer acquisition and marketing or invest in developing their own technology. These professionals leverage our platform to better serve their clients and grow their businesses. This creates an ecosystem in which clients can leverage our analytics (the quantitative) and professionals (the qualitative) to make better real estate decisions.
Our competitors focus on attracting clients to rely solely on their products and staff vs. empowering them to make a better decisions on their own and pushing them towards the best solution for their situation. Banks have the ability to monetize multiple products through savings accounts, lines of credit, and credit cards to retain customers, which makes it harder for smaller players to compete. Our ecosystem seeks to reward those with the most talent, not just those with the biggest marketing budgets, to succeed in the real estate sector. The customer benefits through higher quality service, lower fees and better value.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Everything we do is ultimately around building a real estate ecosystem that empowers users to make better decisions. This is via a combination of advanced analytics, vetted professionals and complementary product verticals.
The ideal state of our platform involves a user going through Perch for every real estate transaction, knowing that they’ll save the most time and money, get the best advice and be guided fairly from start to finish with their best interests in mind. They would go through this journey not relying on blind faith but by also being educated along the way to improve their knowledge and ultimately understand why we make each recommendation and feel comfortable about each decision they make.
Our relationship with our users isn’t transactional but rather is a lifelong partnership in which we help build wealth and financial stability, increase social mobility and enable people to get the home they desire. In our system, it’s not a matter of if someone can be a homeowner but rather how.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I don’t really consider any part of my journey to be challenging. Sure, I went from making a great, reliable income to $0 and started working 80-100 hour weeks perpetually. But those were my expectations going into it.
I think if you go into starting a business with a realistic picture of what that will look like, it doesn’t impact you when those things actually happen. Getting up every day excited and feeling a strong sense of purpose is something that just numbs all the roadblocks that inevitably come up as you grow, and even today, about 4 years later, I’m even more excited than I was when I began.
How can people get involved?
Our product is currently available to Canadians, and they can read more about us at www.myperch.io. If they want to leverage our free solutions, it takes a few minutes to set up a profile.