Alyssa Furtado: Breaking Out of the Plateau
Since starting in 2010, Ratehub.ca has worked hard to become the country’s leading financial comparison website and is now used by five million Canadians each year. The site’s goal is to guide people to the best mortgage rates, credit cards, saving accounts and insurance rates by giving them the knowledge and power to acquire and change their different financial products based on their own unique needs.
A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Ratehub Inc. co-founder and Ratehub.ca CEO Alyssa Furtado got the idea for the company while catching up with former classmate James Laird – who is now also a co-founder of Ratehub Inc. Furtado had come across rate comparison sites from the US that examined different financial products and taught people in the States how to make better financial decisions. The two realized that nothing like this existed in Canada.
“We thought, what if we started a rate comparison website like this?” Furtado says in an exclusive interview with Go Magazine. “We'll compare rates for our users. We'll generate online leads, and we'll be able to sell them to brokers.”
Ratehub.ca was founded soon after and in the beginning focused on mortgage rate comparisons that generated leads for brokers. The site grew quickly and in 2014 started to get more ambitious. Laird joined RateHub operationally, and he and Furtado built out a brokerage underwriting hub. Their next step was to create a comparison tool for credit cards, GICs and savings products that focused on educating consumers as well. The company continues to expand and they’re currently taking on their next evolution which sees them entering the world of insurance comparison of different coverages and products.
No matter what industry you’re in, every business experiences periods of growth and periods of stagnancy. With Ratehub.ca, Furtado has demonstrated an ability to keep things moving forward in strategic and creative ways. Take, for example, when she appeared on the popular Dragons' Den TV program in 2016.
“I find that so many times in business you go through a ton of exponential growth and then you start to plateau for a little bit,” says Furtado. “In those times, you’ve got to do some soul searching of what's next. You need to ask, what do we need to do differently to break out of the plateau and find growth again?
“With Dragons’ Den, it was a good time in our business lifecycle to say, ‘You know, we've done so much. We've self-funded, we've bootstrapped this company. Is it a time to raise financing?’ And, you know, it had been seven years since I was pitching the business and so we thought, ‘Well, why don't we just get out there and see what people think of what we’ve built so far.’ So that’s why we decided to enter the Den.”
Furtado landed up scoring a $1 million deal for RateHub.ca on Dragons’ Den, but ultimately the company chose to decline the offer. They instead tapped into the venture market and raised an impressive $12 million. The funding is being used to build a digital platform that allows people to go through the entire mortgage process online and helped Ratehub.ca launch a new suite of tools allowing Canadians to compare home, auto and life insurance policies.
To ensure constant growth, Furtado sets short-term goals for Ratehub.ca and some ambitious long-term ones as well.
“Our 10-year target is to become the most influential brand in Canadian personal finance. We've gotten really good at being there to answer people's Google questions such as, ‘What's the best rate?’ or ‘What's the best balance transfer credit card?’ And then they find RateHub and like our products. The next step is to get people to think, ‘I've got a personal finance question, I'll go to RateHub and they'll help me.’ And just skip Google altogether.”
With Ratehub beginning to become more involved in the insurance industry, we wanted to ask Furtado about her own insurance buying habits. Does she prefer to purchase it directly online using her company’s comparison tools or to work with an insurance broker instead?
“That’s a good question,” she says. “A little bit of both actually. I've run a lot of quotes, but then I've been working with a broker too. Some of that's because I purchased an investment property and needed some very specific things that I couldn't get online, and the broker was able to help me with that.”
Check out Ratehub.ca’s financial comparison tools, education centres and more by visiting their site here.