InterviewFintech Interview with the Co-Founder and CEO, Ribbon – Shaival Shah

FTB News Desk FTB News DeskAugust 3, 202122 min

Shaival Shah from Ribbon talks about the changing face of home transactions and how Ribbon is playing a crucial role in changing real estate and fintech market.
Shaival Shah, CEO and Co-founder of Ribbon

Shaival Shah is the Co-Founder & CEO at Ribbon Home. He has an extensive market, operating, and investing experience across early to growth-stage technology startups, with particular expertise in developing and commercializing products, business & product strategy, monetization, corporate development, business development, and growth. He enjoys utilizing technology, product design, and native business models to disrupt existing, incumbent industries by understanding industry structures, money flow, and product inefficiencies/gaps. Before starting Ribbon, Shaival was workings as a VP of Business Development at Hunch.

1. Tell us about yourself and your role at Company?
I co-founded Ribbon in 2017 after experiencing the flawed real estate system personally. Ribbon was built on the mission to make home buying achievable for everyone — no matter their income, race or socioeconomic status.

As we look back in history, real estate access has too often been determined by segregation, class and stereotypes. Conversely, when there’s a level playing field in real estate, it’s also been one of the most transformative. Where you live can often determine the opportunities you have. Ribbon is giving the power of opportunity back to the people and breaking through financial barriers that constrict those who do not have the cash capital to compete with wealthy individuals or investors.

As CEO, I oversee and drive our mission to make homeownership achievable for all. Building a culture around this mission starts with our internal team and hiring those passionate about the cause. When our team is stronger, and supportive of each other, that’s reflected in how much of a difference we make for everyday families who may not have had the opportunity for homeownership before.

2. Can you venture your journey into the market for our Audience?
I entered the proptech space with a personal story related to the limited protections regular homebuyers face. My story, like many others, starts with my immigrant parents, my own upbringing and the challenges faced during childhood. Watching my parents fight for their rights, having to work 10x harder to earn access and be supported by those who generously gave when others would not – it created a fire to build, innovate and pay forward. And to do so in the area that holds so many back: access to homeownership.

My previous experience in finance, real estate and technology drove my perspective that there was an incredible opportunity to advocate for everyday buyers in an increasingly competitive and inaccessible housing market. And how we could tilt the financial systems in the US to be in favor of consumers. With that background, Ribbon was born.

3. What according to you are the top Fintech Trends ruling the Market?
A booming market, low inventory and prevalence of institutional investors leave everyday buyers looking for alternative options to compete in a market where a third of all offers are cash.

I expect a protracted low housing supply environment as a result of structural limitations in the market. Geographic transfer of wealth from large city-dwelling metros to secondary, emerging suburban markets. Rise of institutional buyers who are seeking rental yields and a hedge against inflation. A millennial community aging into classic homeownership years. An overarching return to home for everyday families post-pandemic. Expect competitive, multiple offers to be the new normal.

Home transaction certainty will become a new norm, changing the entire dynamic of how homeownership will be conducted 5 years from now. We expect the process of buying and selling a home to become faster, simpler and more certain for everyone.

More and more non-traditional mortgage alternatives will form that makes homeownership accessible to more people.

4. What is one unique benefit that RibbonCash Offer provides to its customers?
In today’s market, cash offers are the top option and, increasingly, a competitive necessity to close on a home. Cash offers are more secure for the seller because they don’t have to worry about a buyer being able to secure a loan from a bank. Removing this financing contingency makes it more appealing. All these contingencies protect the buyer but they also make the offer less secure for sellers. With a cash offer, you don’t need all these contingencies, which makes the offer extra attractive. Finally, a cash offer makes the closing faster and simpler. A cash offer closing can be done in as little as 14 days compared to the normal 30-60 days.

That’s where Ribbon comes in: we want any buyer to have the ability to make a non-contingent, all-cash offer to present to sellers. We help buyers uplevel mortgage-eligible consumers into a novel, all-cash consumer product, with a guaranteed close. And it provides sellers incentive to choose an everyday buyer over an institution.

5. As an Evolution Curve, can you take us through the journey of Change that Ribbon was able to bring to the Fintech Sector over the years?
Ribbon currently operates in five markets – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Each market was carefully chosen based on the competitive housing landscape and where the most impact to potential homebuyers can be made.

Thousands of homebuyers have relied on Ribbon’s technology to obtain their dream home despite their financial situation. We’re eager to expand operations to new markets given the hyperactive growth, and market need, for innovation in FinTech in real estate. Soon, we’ll be in Florida — and have growing waitlists in Tampa and Orlando.

In terms of the change we’ve made, we have to bring it back to the humanity behind purchasing a home. There was a family in Charlotte, NC who found their dream home but it was already booked for showings and had multiple offers on it. Using Ribbon for their offer was able to set them apart. By offering an all-cash offer with no contingencies, the family won that dream home on their first offer. The fact of the matter is that for most everyday buyers, without cash – it’s not the case. Ultimately, the change we seek is rooted in a home buyer’s peace of mind.

6. How do you think Ribbon has contributed to the revolutionizing of the Real Estate sector?
We have made the homeownership journey faster, simpler and more certain. Most innovations have focused on housing discovery and customer service. But the process of buying and selling your home, the transaction itself, has not changed since the creation of the mortgage We designed modern financial solutions, intuitive technology and a world class customer experience team to help families win and move into their home without a mortgage. Allowing them a stress free process and the time to secure their mortgage on their terms. Far too often, innovations that are rooted in the home as investment. The people behind these homes are often forgotten, which has only exacerbated the viewpoint that a single family home is purchased for economic reasons alone. Fundamental to Ribbon is the desire to preserve homes for people, not corporations.

Additionally, other companies in the space don’t believe agents or lenders are a productive part of the real estate process. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Real estate agents and lenders are experts, advocates and community-builders. If the consumer loses, agents and lenders lose. With Ribbon, we are an open architecture that allows everyone involved to participate in building a new home transaction experience together.

Ribbon is leveling up consumer experience with open platforms so that all transactions participate fairly and equally. This creates the first-ever market network for homes and a resilient way to simplify the home buying and selling process, while at the same time creating a powerful financial product that inserts certainty and provides peace of mind for everyday buyers.

7. How has the addition of iOS app helped in serving your clients better?
The addition of our app, Ribbon for Agents helps real estate agents make fast offers on-the-go while accessing all documents and feedback in one place. The market is brutally fast, so our app helps agents make their winning offers faster.

We consider ourselves partners and advocates for agents to best serve their clients, so we’re always working to make their demanding roles in the process easier and more successful.

8. Can you share one story through which Ribbon was able to solve a complex problem with its customized approach for one of its clients?
Every family’s needs in a home are distinct. We recognize that, and have baked that mindset into our product and client service. Buying a home isn’t just about making an investment – it’s about the various factors a buyer’s life requires. Life should determine the home you need, your home shouldn’t determine the life you lead.

One example that comes to mind, for me, is a family who needed to move to a new school district for their special-needs child before the school year began.

The family had one goal in mind, the well-being of their child and they would not stop until they put their child in the best situation possible. They had a school and location in mind. Unfortunately, they were unable to “compete to win” on their new home. By utilizing RibbonCash, they were able to not only win their home, but more importantly, they were able to close in time for their child to begin the school year.

Every offer made, every offer accepted – there are individuals or families who’ve found a home that works best for their needs. And we’re proud to have helped people achieve homeownership through leveraging Ribbon’s product and technology.

We work everyday to bring people home.

9. Which is the Movie that inspires you the most?
Shawshank Redemption. It’s a story that gets to the heart of finding hope and will in the darkest of situations — where equality and fairness feel lost.

10. Would you like to share your all-time favorite Motivational Quote with us?
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” – Gandhi.

As only Gandhi could, he took a 18th century BC Mesopotamian idiom that flipped the punishment for violence definition into empowering the non-violent pacifist movement.

FTB News Desk

FTB News Desk

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