Created out of necessity by locally owned Live Oak Bank, nCino was originated in 2010 to develop software that would turn the paperwork nightmare of administering loans to small businesses across the country into an online cloud-based platform.
This streamlined process was developed into software that became known as the “Bank Operating System.” Seeing the potential of new the platform in the financial sector, nCino became a privately held company in 2012 and named South African native Pierre Naudé as the CEO.
nCino has gained statewide and national attention since launching. Earlier this year, Forbes announced its list for America’s most promising companies in 2015 and the only North Carolina company to be on that list was Wilmington’s very own nCino.
While Wilmington might not be the first city that comes to mind as a home for a nationally ranked tech company, the local startup has big plans for further expansion in Wilmington, which Naudé shared with Port City Daily.
How Does nCino’s Bank Operating System work and how does that stimulate growth for nCino?
So today it is a very competitive environment for banks and their biggest differentiator is speed and efficiency because a borrower only has two questions: Am I approved for the loan? And when can I get the money? Our system literally is the modern equivalent of a Facebook for banks. Where you put the borrower, the lawyer, the appraiser, and all your internal bankers in one collaborative piece of software where they all work together to collect all this data to get a decision made quicker, easier and faster. What that means is if my bank can close a loan in 45 days and your bank takes 70 days then you’re going to come to my bank and you’re going to get the money quicker. That drives a competitive advantage for the banks.
nCino has grown exponentially since the company’s inception in 2012. What do you attribute to that success?
There are two different elements. The first is the technology and the technology platform salesforce.com. It allows us this social mobile enterprise that we can take into banks in a very structured and compliant way.
The company is expanding and moving into a new 40,000 square foot facility on Parker Farm Drive at the end of July, what does this mean for Wilmington?
Well I think what it proves is that we like to hire locally, we’re going to expand locally, the entire management team is local, and we plan to stay that way. We believe that if we do this the right way in Wilmington that we could be an incubator for a much larger tech sector in Wilmington. Eventually- and I hope that it doesn’t happen anytime soon- but a smart guy from nCino goes across the street and starts his own company and then another guy sees that and says, “Oh wait, there is this talent in Wilmington” and he puts up a company across the street from that guy. So that you would have this bigger incubation happening around us with us as the bigger company that is established and fast growing.
It seems as though nCino would be more inclined to be based in a community such as Research Triangle Park. Why stay in Wilmington?
There are significant benefits to being in Wilmington and the very first one is quality of life. Would you rather sit in traffic or go to the beach? The second is that I have noticed a tremendous amount of untapped talent or what I would say was underemployed highly skilled people with a very good education behind them. So why would I leave here? We can build something that’s quality while hiring locally. With this fast growth, if we create the right culture and take care of our people they don’t leave. If you’re in Silicon Valley, people come to you they work for a couple of years and then they get more money across the street and leave. The turnover here is a lot lower than what you would get in these metro areas. It’s in my view that I would rather create something special and have a low turnover rate and grow the culture of our company.
Wilmington is a small town, but it seems bigger than that.
It’s very diverse, with tremendous companies and good industries. There is a great talent pool here and it’s a surprising little secret.
Where do you see nCino in two years from now?
We are on a fast track for growth and we contain the growth in certain sectors. For instance, in the first three years we focused on the community bank space because we wanted to perfect the solution [nCino’s Bank Operating System] and we know how to install it and actually did very well at doing that. Then after two and a half years, we said, ‘Let’s take a look at the bigger banks,’ and we were pleasantly surprised at how applicable the solution was bigger banks so we started going to banks like Suntrust. So this year we’re fully engaged in the big bank market as well. That growth will keep on continuing and we will add people to support that growth. Because we are so focused on innovation, reputation and speed we are building out a tremendous portfolio of additional products so that long term we would like to see an nCino application on every desk of every employee in every bank–that’s the goal. We want to take over the world [laughs] so that growth will continue in those two market segments. Our next step will be to start looking at international, but we’ll only do that when the time is right.
nCino is a privately owned company, but would you ever consider taking the company public?
My view is when you run a company like this it’s like a three-legged stool. If you take one leg out, the stool doesn’t work. In a three legged-stool you have three things you’ve got your employees –and you take good care of them– along with your shareholders and your customers and you have to stay in good balance with all of them in order to make your stool work effectively. You can’t overcompensate the employee because then your shareholders get mad because your cost is too high. If you pay out too much to the shareholders then you lack innovation and your customers get mad. So that is the perfect balance you have to maintain continuously.
That question we will consider when we’re large enough because you need a certain level of scale to afford to go public. Once we’re large enough we will evaluate if we need the capital and if we actually want to consider the overhead of being a publicly traded company. That decision we have a number of years before we make.
Right now we’re focused on our customers and on innovation, reputation and speed. That’s what we do.