In general, I think disruptors are good, even if it’s just an idea that forces you to think about something differently. That’s what leads to innovation, looking at something and coming up with a better way to get it done.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Clint Lotz, Founder of TCRO Systems, where he has developed the leading platform for the Credit Repair Industry, including consumer products and outsourcing services for business clients.
Most recently, Clint and his team launched TrackStar.ai, a new, predictive API designed to help enterprise level banking/lending/mortgage institutions offer better and more accurate loans to customers — all based on information in lender’s existing databases. The company’s API, built on a proprietary credit dataset, predicts what credit items could be disputed/removed in the future and based on that data, the API predicts when a consumer’s credit score should rise, enabling lenders to immediately qualify said consumer for lending products. This predictive machine learning helps lenders make better decisions about qualifying loan applicants and ultimately lowers lenders’ cost of consumer acquisition and their reliance on outside partnerships for leads.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I’ve always been the geeky kid, more likely to join the band instead of on the football team. When I was younger, I always felt like I stuck out, but computers and the internet changed all that. I found my calling and it came in a metal box and drove my parents nuts…namely due to a borrowed dial-up account.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
To put it simply, TrackStar.ai, finds errors in credit reports. This is something that’s never been done before, that is using machine learning and AI to help a consumer’s credit, not just to market to them.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I miscalculated a time zone, when I started with TCRO (I was an employee first before I bought the company in 2013), as it was the first time I had clients in different time zones. In Arizona we don’t observe daylight savings time, so our clocks stay the same when the rest of the country moves forwards or backwards.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
The biggest business mentor I had was my Uncle Bill on my Father’s side. He started washing cars at a dealership at 18. He put himself through college and built an empire to include a dozen or so dealerships and a construction company along with many other investments. He was the one who drilled it into my head the old adage, ‘work smarter, not harder’. That really opened my eyes at a very young age, as I was probably 10 years old at the time. He was a great mentor, as we used to sit at his kitchen table every Christmas Eve and read The Wall Street Journal, particularly what was happening on the New York Stock Exchange and how to read and understand all of it.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
In general, I think disruptors are good, even if it’s just an idea that forces you to think about something differently.
That’s what leads to innovation, looking at something and coming up with a better way to get it done. For example, in American history we can cite several examples with democracy being the first. But even after our nation was we’ve had amazing disruptors come along and change the course of the country. On a local level, I remember when I was a kid, AOL started buying up all the local ISPs in my town and by doing so they disrupted the market. Back then, it wasn’t as scrutinized as it is today. But just like democracy, so same thing happened — they came in and disrupted the industry and became a game changer for internet access to many Americans. Later, broadband and telecom companies would disrupt AOL’s business model and provide better, faster, cheaper access to the internet., allowing for the first-time consumers to be able to be online at all times from their home. These types of disruptors that change how we interact with technology the world at large and have always been considered leading innovation.
The only thing negative about disruptors is that sometimes it leaves people behind, usually the skilled workers whose positions just got eliminated. I experienced this at the bank I worked at when we replaced our proofers with proofing machines that simply read the information on a check and fed it to our mainframe.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Work smarter, not harder.
Always make a decision,
Don’t drink at lunch,
For the third one, when my Uncle started running the Cadillac dealership with his business partner, one of the first things he did was go to the auto auction to buy inventory. The story he told was about how everyone was warm and welcoming, congratulating him on his purchase of the dealership — a small celebration for the car washing attendant turned dealership owner. So, he met a few guys for lunch and had a couple ‘Buds’ (Bud Lights) as he called them and after bought a Buick at the auction, perhaps one that he might not have wanted. The moral of the story is alcohol impairs your judgement and gets you more relaxed, which is not a good combo when you are bidding thousands of dollars on automobiles for your business’ inventory. Needless to say, he overpaid for that Buick and every day that it sat at the dealership was a reminder of how he had failed his business. So, enjoy yourself as much as you want, just not when you’re required to make decisions about your business.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
It’s not a strategy, it’s a way of life. We treat all of our referral partners with the greatest care, transparency, and prompt payment for anything they earn. In my mind, that’s the way it should be. At TrackStar we automate it and provide online accounts to everyone to satisfy transparency in the program. Once you have a solid foundation to support leads, you should continue to build out your lead sources and cultivate them. Treat them like little profit centers and each lead they send like it’s gold.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Well, the sky’s the limit for technology if you’re in the right sector and I think we are. Artificial Intelligence is being used everywhere by everyone and those that can view and analyze the data the best will be the most successful. My goal is to have TrackStar right ranked with some of the best AI tools available.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
The truth is, there is no one book or podcast. There are many and I think learning about opposing views is critical to making informed decisions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Thinking again of the ‘work smarter, not harder’ quote, I have to say that for a young boy that means many different things. As an adult, I now realize it’s all about critical thinking and coming up with solutions to problems. My Uncle once told me, “I’ll never get upset if you make a wrong decision, I will only get upset if you don’t make any decision at all.” So that taught me that I needed to be quick on my feet, educate myself on what I had to work with so I could quickly make an informed decision. Hard lessons for a 10-year-old, but that advice, paired with the work ethic my parents instilled in me, gave me a good recipe for success.
Being a kid born into a low-income home and being exposed to such a successful mentor at a young age isn’t something everyone gets. I’m lucky and I acknowledge that not everyone has had these benefits I have experienced, but I alone am aware of the struggles it took to get here. This type of motivation and my respect for the underdog has really led my career from the very beginning.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I don’t believe that I alone have the power to change the world. I know it takes a movement and yes, that movement has to start with someone. I prefer to dedicate my free time and resources to organizations who are already making a difference in the world. I have my cause, but I support the causes of others as well, even if it’s behind the scenes.
How can our readers follow you online?
The best way to keep tabs on us is to follow us on Twitter @trackstarai or our site https://trackstar.ai/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!