Practical Founders Podcast

#45: Bootstrapped Founder Still Creating Big Industry Impact 30 Years In – Dave Savage

Dave Savage was a top-producing mortgage loan officer in the early 1990s who used computers and software to help him sell more. He became a software entrepreneur by creating a new software solution for loan officers to help them educate their clients and sell more. He sold $120,000 of Mortgage Coach on stage at a conference on their first day, which started their 25-year growth journey in the software business. 

Mortgage Coach helps loan officers transparently present loan options and educate their clients about the financial impact, which differentiates the loan officer and helps them increase sales and referrals. It started as Windows software then eventually transitioned to the web and mobile devices.. The company grew steadily until the mortgage meltdown in the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2010 caused its sales to plummet, but it didn’t kill the company. After 2012, they started selling to large lending companies, not just individual loan officers. 

Mortgage Coach was a growing and profitable software company with no outside investors when a majority of the company was acquired by private equity investor LLR Partners in 2021. Dave is no longer the CEO of the new company called Trust Engine but he is still is part-owner and an active executive leader helping to grow the impact of the new company. 

Best quote from Dave:

Unfortunately, I did not use an investment banker to help us sell our other company, SmartReply. I did that on my own. I’m sure I could have doubled or tripled what I did and even negotiated a number of details better.

“When we sold Mortgage Coach, I hired an incredible investment banker. I interviewed a lot of folks and he really understood what we were trying to do. When you look at how much time selling your company takes you out of the game of growing your business, that’s real money.

“An investment banker that you trust and connect with can create much more leverage by driving a process and the transaction. He paid for himself and he allowed us to continue to really operate the business. I would never, as an entrepreneur, try to self-represent myself again.”

In this episode, Dave explains:

  • How he was a top-performing loan sales rep that used computers and created software tools to help other mortgage loan officers
  • Why he started another software company called SmartReply and how he missed a big exit opportunity
  • How he and is technical cofounder bootstrapped the company and grew profitably
  • How they transitioned the technology to the cloud and focused on big lending companies in 2013
  • How Dave educated and inspired loan officers as a popular speaker and YouTube podcast host
  • Why they sold most of the company to a private equity investor that acquired complementary software and renamed the company to TrustEngine

Mortgage Coach Facts

  • Founded: 1997
  • Employees: 40
  • Description: Mortgage Coach helps mortgage lenders and loan officers to provide advice, not price, to increase production and profits. Thousands of banks and lenders rely on Mortgage Coach to turn borrower education into a competitive advantage. 
  • Funding: Bootstrapped to start and then customer-funded with revenue growth.
  • Acquisition: Private equity investor LLR Partners acquired a majority of Mortgage Coach in 2021 for an undisclosed amount. Mortgage Coach was a growing SaaS company with roughly nearly $10 million in ARR.
  • Headquarters: Irvine, California



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Greg Head recorded this on episode on May 12, 2023 for the Practical Founders Podcast see all of the episodes.

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