Practical Founders Podcast

#6: Self-Funded his 3rd Venture to a Big Exit in 18 Months – Steve Gelley of wemlo

Steve Gelley created two successful businesses and learned important lessons before he and a cofounder self-funded a third startup that was acquired in only 18 months for a big prize.

Steve started his entrepreneurial journey by buying, improving, and then selling CPA accounting services firms in the Eastern U.S. Then he grew his first VC-funded tech startup, Xendoo, to innovate in the small business accounting services space.

He exited Xendoo and worked with a partner to fund and create a new startup called wemlo to automate the manual process of processing mortgage loans for mortgage brokers. Only 18 months from starting, including four strategic pivots, Steve and his co-founder, David Rogove, sold wemlo to a strategic buyer owned by RE/MAX.

Steve says, “Nobody tells you that founders end up spending so much time on funding and the optics of the dog and pony show that no one’s running the business. It’s actually counterproductive.”

In this episode, Steve explains:

  • Why he sold his interest in his first startup when the company achieved its first VC funding
  • How he and his cofounder built a market-leading solution for a massive industry with a small team
  • What the true opportunity cost of raising VC funding is for founders growing vertical software companies
  • The simple math that showed him raising big funding would not be better for the founders
  • What it takes to design revolutionary software with automated processes that revolutions
  • Why he says “timing is the luck factor in a business,” especially when you exit a business
  • Why money from investors won’t solve all your problems and often make things worse

wemlo Company Facts

  • Founded: 2019
  • Software Type: Mortgage process automation for mortgage brokers
  • Funding: Self-funded with proceeds from his previous VC-funded exit
  • Acquisition: Sold wemlo to in 2021
  • Number of Employees: 15 at time of acquisition
  • Office Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida


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Greg Head recorded this on episode on July 28, 2022 for the Practical Founders Podcast see all of the episodes.

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