Startup Stories: Brodie Haupt, Co-Founder & CEO at WLTH

We had a great chat with Brodie about what inspired him to launch WLTH, evolving his role as CEO, building a remote company culture and avoiding burn-out.

by hao-nguyen on October 14, 2021

Brodie Haupt is the CEO and co-founder of WLTH, a Brisbane-based startup, digital lending and payments provider.

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Hi Brodie, great to have you back chatting with us. Last time we spoke, it was about how you managed your work-life balance as co-founder and CEO of WLTH. For those who may not know, can you tell us about WLTH and what inspired you to launch the business?

WLTH is an Australian digital lender and payments provider changing the lending and payments experience to a more positive one. We aim to provide Australians with a smarter, sustainability-focused solution to financial products.

With over two decades of combined experience in the financial industry, my brother Drew and I were quite frankly, disappointed in the level of service that was being offered to customers. We thought we could do better, thus, the journey to provide a better service began in 2018. Our offering revolves around a fully-digitalised application process called the ‘Lending Loop’ so anyone can apply for their home loan in five easy steps and be done in less than 15 minutes.

Our purpose is to primarily provide clients with low rates and great service as we understand how burdensome a mortgage can be. WLTH aims to provide quick and hassle-free applications and strives for faster approval times. And, while we are extremely passionate about lending, it goes hand in hand with an even deeper vocation – sustainability of our oceans. We’re immensely proud to be partnered with Parley for the Oceans to clean up 50m² worth of Australian oceans and coastline for every loan settled.

Some may think this an atypical partnership, however, I don’t really see many companies in this space commit as much as we do. I believe it is another aspect of WLTH that really sets us apart from incumbents in the industry. Admittedly, conservation of our oceans was not initially a primary purpose of WLTH. But, after further research into what’s happening around the world, it has definitely become a focal point and driving force for our business.

How do you think your role as CEO has evolved over the past couple of years, especially factoring in the pandemic?

My role as CEO certainly needed to adapt as our company continues to grow at a rapid rate. Initially, I needed to know what everyone was doing, and I was more involved in the day-to-day activities. It worked well as the business was still in its infant stages and the team was small. 

Of course as the team expanded, I needed to let go a little bit more and put more faith into my executives. As most businesses do, we put great importance into setting up our reporting practices. As much as I’d love to be a part of everything going on in the business, these days I focus more on the vision and direction of WLTH.

The WLTH team has expanded quite a bit over the past year, you now have staff distributed across different states in Australia. What are some of the strategies you use to build and maintain a company culture?

I understand that rapport is built amongst team members when walking to and from meeting rooms, or when you bump into them in the kitchen, not when you jump in and out of online meetings. So, building up and maintaining company culture can be a bit tricky when we are not all in the same office. Nonetheless, we try our best to keep it front of mind.

We hold a company wide team meeting once a week where each team of the business can talk about their progress. Everyone is encouraged to speak, and we use this time to celebrate any wins in their work, personal, or family life.

In addition, the company has an entire Slack channel dedicated to fun stuff only. Puzzles, riddles, where they were for the weekend or children winning first place at the swim meet all frequent the channel. It is beautiful to see everyone so engaged.

A team member even suggested we hold an online trivia night where we split into teams to compete for $100 gift cards to their local winery. It gave staff a chance to work with colleagues from other teams across different states that they wouldn’t normally work with. It was a huge hit and something we can host again in the future.

Trivia night is always fun. We’ve done a few ourselves at Nudge and they’re great for a laugh. Turning the spotlight on you now, as a CEO of a fast-growing start-up, do you have any routines to ensure you avoid burning out and stay operating at a high level? 

My fitness routine is a crucial aspect of my life. It does seem counter-intuitive as logic would tell me that exerting more effort into my training means less energy for other things. Yet, in reality, I find that the more I train, the more energy I have to operate at a high level in work and spend time with my family.

What have been some of your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur and what key lessons have you learnt from them?

Always trust your instincts. Back your own judgment.

With the WLTH expanding, when you’re hiring new people for the team, what sort of skills and traits stand out most to you?

When hiring new staff, we primarily look at culture fit. We opt for good communicators and those we can bring energy and enthusiasm into their role.

One last question before we let you get back to WLTH. How would you describe the start-up working environment for someone who isn’t familiar with it?

I would say working for a start-up can initially be less formal than bigger corporations. There may not be structured training sessions and you can instead be thrown into the deep end of the role where you are given a chance to prove yourself right from the start. 

Start-up environments usually also mean a smaller team so you are forced to get a deeper understanding of the different teams and how they operate. The environment also induces heavy collaboration between every individual and everything you do can make a big impact to the business as opposed to feeling like just another ‘cog’ in the system of established companies.

I love that answer! Thanks so much for your time on this Brodie, it was great to chat with you again. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on your WLTH journey! 

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