In Blend’s early days, the team worked out of a small office on a less-than-glamorous stretch of Mission Street in San Francisco. I remember meeting Nima for the first time in the threadbare basement of that office, where there was a sofa, a coffee table, and not much else. This became a regular place for us to catch up. Nima was particularly interested in gathering my perspective on our Industry Cloud thesis and what we’d learned from our involvement with Veeva Systems that might help him as he built out Blend. We would go back and forth on specifics of how to build an Industry Cloud company, from the importance of standing firm on pricing, to how to think about “layering the cake” with new product features.
An engineer by training, Nima had the insight that technology could help improve the mortgage experience. He also knew from firsthand experience that the country’s mortgage lenders didn’t have the expertise to build this technology themselves. Nima, Eugene, and Rosco had spent time at Palantir where they worked to help banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. There, they saw just how antiquated banks’ mortgage software and processes were. This authentic insight and lived experience proved critical as the company built products for such a tough market, but it was Nima’s personal story that made Blend’s mission special.
"Witnessing the profound impact homeownership had on his own family’s life, Nima wanted to do his part to make it easier for others to get a mortgage."
As I got to know Nima better, I learned more about the genuine motivation behind his desire to transform the mortgage process. Nima and his parents immigrated to the U.S. from Iran when he was a child. His family had a dream of owning a home for the first time, but were unfamiliar with the complexities of the path toward buying a house in this country. Were it not for a very kind bank employee who helped them navigate the mortgage process, they may not have become homeowners. Witnessing the profound impact homeownership had on his own family’s life, Nima wanted to do his part to make it easier for others to get a mortgage.
The road between that point and today’s IPO wasn’t always an easy one. It took Blend years to prove that it was possible to build the right software for the mortgage industry and to gain the trust of some of the largest financial institutions in the country. Thankfully, we found a way to partner with Blend in 2017. Since then, we at Emergence have watched as Nima and the Blend team have persevered and knocked down barrier after barrier on their way to now powering a substantial portion of the US mortgage market.
Investors and founders are sometimes reluctant to tackle entrenched industries, where problems are more complex and can require more capital and time to solve. Nima and the Blend team have never shied away from big challenges and today, their courage and persistence has paid off. We are deeply grateful to have been partners to Blend on its journey and are excited to support the company as it continues to pursue its mission of bringing simplicity and transparency to the financial services industry.
Congratulations to Nima, Eugene, Erin, Rosco, and the entire Blend team!
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