John Aitken & Bryce Angell: Young lending entrepreneurs

In the space of three years, young entrepreneurs Bryce Angell and John Aitken have turned $20,000 and a credit card into a $12.6 million mortgage-lending business, Bryco Funding Inc.

Their downtown San Francisco office looks almost like a stock-trading floor, staffed by 20-something young men — of 135 employees in that office, 67 are loan officers whose average age is 27. They also have a 15-agent real estate office and a five-member South Carolina office.

The loan job appeals to people not afraid to take the risk of working on 100 percent commission, they said, though they provide benefits and hourly wages for officers, the latter of which comes out of their commission once they have sales.

“We’re very, very motivated,” Angell said.

The pair met while working as loan officers for the Mortgage Center in the East Bay. Angell, who’d already had a career as an entertainment lawyer and had his real estate broker’s license, realized that mortgages were earning him more monthly income than senior partners at his old firm. He saw even greater money to be made in opening up his own shop. He approached Aitken, a Bay Area native whose father owns the Peninsula Swim School in Redwood City.

“We had the most in common,” Angell said. “Second of all, he was the best salesman in the company. We both at that time realized we had the same goals.”

Their firm targets sub-prime lenders. To get it started, Angell moved in with Aitken, slept on the couch and convinced his credit-card company to up his limit from $10,000 to $30,000. They added that to their own $20,000. They had no other investors and made work calls with their cell phones. Angell convinced a bank to give them a $3 million credit line. Now they have $30 million to $40 million in warehouse credit lines available.

“When we call up [a potential mortgage buyer in a cold call], we can say, ‘We’re the lender,’” Aitken said.

To find the best talent, the pair are willing to hire loan officers with no experience in the field but who demonstrate sales skill, and then put them through intensive “Bryco University” training and pair them with high-earning mentors. Sales is a demanding profession, Aitken said.

“Your whole character’s put on the line every single day,” he said.

The pair also provides good earners with a manager training program, enabling them to become “team leaders” of other lenders, earning a percentage of their commission.

The pair hope to go public within a few years. The company recently was approved to lend by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, enabling them to lend in all 50 states.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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