New Tech Founder Spotlight: Megan Graf, Co-Founder and COO, Homepace

Each week in the New Tech Newsletter we feature a Spotlight Q&A with founders, angels, New Tech alumni presenters, and other people or companies in our community we believe you’d like to learn about. Reach out if you’d like to recommend a startup, founder, angel, accelerator, or New Tech alumni presenter for us to spotlight for the PNW tech community!

In this week’s spotlight we caught up with Megan Graf, Co-Founder and COO of Homepace

Megan Graf

Why do you do what you do for a living? 

Wealth is empowerment. I firmly believe financial stability is required to support a happy life, and I am personally empowered by financial independence. Helping others build the wealth they need – or use the wealth they have – to support a healthy, happy, and enriched life gets me up in the morning. Every job I’ve held has been in service of clients and their financial welfare. 

Incorporating technology into traditional asset classes, such as fintech and proptech, has allowed me to scale my efforts to more people. Most importantly, technology has allowed me to help companies provide wealth management services to people who haven’t traditionally benefited from the services and tools typically available to very wealthy people. The startup world has offered me all kinds of opportunities to help. Additionally, the speed of decision-making and development required in fintech has always kept me excited about my work. 

Why did you start your company? 

In traditional wealth management, the home a client owns is largely ignored when developing their financial plan. It’s not considered a tool to build usable wealth, because the value is tied up in the beams and foundation you’re living in – all things you can’t rip out and use to pay for things. 

HomePace gives homeowners and homebuyers the same tools that large institutions use to break apart a physical asset into more usable pieces of wealth. We’re democratizing savvy wealth strategies for the everyday person. With this tool, homeowners can pay down debt, start a business, invest in another home, or pay for things that are most important to them.

For HomePace specifically, I knew that I was getting in with the right team early on. All three co-founders bring very different skill sets and focus to the company to help homeowners unlock their home equity. 

What is one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned from being a co-founder? 

So far, my biggest lesson has boiled down to maintaining confidence in times when I don’t have it. I’m an operator – I love problems. I love talking about problems. I think in terms of risk management, process, and structure. I work from the worst case up to the best case – not the way you think of a typical co-founder who leads from a place of constant optimism and with an eye on the future. 

I’m still learning how to project the confidence I have in what I know, while staying true to my own voice and perspective, which tends to be on reality, the day-to-day, and where the problems are. 

What is the one piece of advice you would share today with your younger self before you started your company?

Do everything you can to read and stay up to speed on your industry, ideally weekly, if not daily. Read the news. Find industry podcasts. Get your hands on anything you can to learn, even if it doesn’t feel like it directly ties to the problems you’re solving today. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much some of my early learnings that didn’t feel particularly helpful or applicable at the time have benefitted me as time went on.

Even if your industry is not related to finance, as a founder you should be staying up to speed on the broader financial markets and trends in finance. Those markets greatly impact VCs and investors you’ll engage during fundraising. Staying close to how they think, their appetite for risk, and what kinds of financial performance they need will help you better pitch and respond proactively to concerns.

What is something interesting and unexpected that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a huge Washington wine fan. I was born and lived in Northern California for most of my life until moving up to Seattle, and spent a lot of time in Napa. While I’m a Californian at heart, I’ve become so passionate about the wines from our state and love to share new finds with friends and family back home (and they always love them!).

What appeals to me most about Washington wines is the winemaker culture. It’s a region of innovation and collaboration – even in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve seen so much growth and the region continues to grow in importance. After traveling to Walla Walla each year, the area I’m most excited to explore more is in the tri-cities. Red Mountain cabs are our favorite, and the wineries around that AVA have done an incredible job building tourism and a great wine culture for folks traveling in. 

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