Written by Andrew Seale
Manny Kandola was in the last leg of a major investment in a commercial building, an eight month process requiring diligent paperwork and careful number crunching, when his bank informed him they’d be changing the lending terms.
“The final details started to come out, they said ‘this would be your rate, we can’t do what we promised you,’ ” recalls the entrepreneur. “They made me feel that I went through a bunch of paperwork in the past eight months and really they just started looking at the deal just three weeks I was about to close.”
It was an emotional time, jeopardizing his investment and forcing Kandola to re-think his relationship with the financial institution he’d been banking with for over a decade. But he didn’t let the news paralyze him.
“In about three hours, I got competitive prices from (several) branches,” says Kandola. “That's when I started to think: why shouldn’t shopping for a financial product be like this all the time?”
Shortly thereafter, he founded InterestPiggy.com, an online platform where consumers plug in their desired scenario – be it for a mortgage, loan, savings, or GIC – and banks, alternative lenders, credit unions and brokers compete for the consumer’s business by offering desirable interest rates. It’s all done confidentially and anonymously, empowering the consumer to get the best rate.
A year and a half since launching, Kandola is adapting to the world of running a startup. He has 17 years experience in IT for businesses both big and small but being at the helm of a FinTech company with teams in Toronto, Calgary and India is a new feeling with a steep learning curve.
“It's a fantastic space to be in, I would not want to be anywhere else… I feel I'm at prime,” he says. “What I've learned in the six months and what I learned in the last five years on the corporate side is night and day.”
And the Toronto ecosystem has propped him up along the way.
“The competitive side is not there, it's ‘how do we grow together?’ and brainstorming around that,” says Kandola who admits, like all entrepreneurs, his life can get overwhelming at times. “I've got two kids – one that's two and a half, one that's eight months old, I’m doing it all at the same time.”
That means balancing family life with midnight to four a.m. calls with InterestPiggy’s team in India.
“I think if anybody shares that experience, they get that it's a lot of hard work… it takes a lot of dedication,” he says. “Anyone whose run that full gamut is worth knowing, keep them close to you.”
Although they have aspirations to launch in both the U.S. and U.K. markets in the future, Toronto, says Kandola, is home. “When it comes to financial service providers, all the innovation labs are here – our partnerships start with banks through their innovation hubs.”
And he has no interest at the moment in selling out InterestPiggy to a single financial institution.
“We've got a big social cause, we're disrupting the way people borrow and save… it’s empowering,” he says. “We want to help Canadians first.”