HousingWire's annual Vanguard award list was published today, which celebrates the top C-level leaders in the housing and mortgage industry. The HW Vanguard Award recognizes leaders of businesses contributing to the growth of the housing economy and its various sectors, including lending, servicing, investments, and real estate. They come from diverse backgrounds, and may run established companies or start-ups, but share one common trait: an unmistakable impact on the industry at-large.
Thomas Sponholtz’s focus is clear at Unison, and it’s changing how people buy and own homes and lowering the barrier to homeownership.
In 2004, Sponholtz founded Unison, where he invented home co-investing as an alternative to debt-only financing, which brings investors together with consumers to solve both of their problems.
The goal Sponholtz had in mind when beginning Unison was to launch a company whose model was focused on aligning the interests of consumers with those at the source of their capital. Sponholtz led the company’s change to a direct-to-consumer business model. This inspired the company’s brand re-launch.
In 2018, Sponholtz led Unison to a 370% year over year revenue growth, and a 308% year over year growth in customer transactions. Also in 2018, Sponholtz raised a $40 million Series B funding round for the company, which was the first time it had to seek outside investor funding since its launch.
This year, Sponholtz expanded Unison’s HomeOwner and HomeBuyer services to eight additional states in the nation to introduce the advantages of home co-investing to over 5 million more homes. As of July 1, 2019, Unison has helped more than 5,000 people and families, with a total of $3.5 billion invested into homes.
Sponholtz’s idea of “enlightened capitalism” and Unison’s “secret sauce” of patient capital provided by larger fund managers from pension funds and endowments enable Unison to design products that are in consumers’ best interests. Unison was designed to have interests fully aligned with its customers.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to truly believe in your mission. I have seen this advice come to life since launching Unison. There are many ups and downs when launching a business, and it is essential to be passionate and remember why you started initially.”