Clint Lotz is the President and Founder of 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. Prior to launching TrackStar, Clint founded TCRO Systems, where he has developed the leading platform for the Credit Repair Industry, including consumer products and outsourcing services for business clients for over 15 years. Prior to joining the credit industry, he introduced the first digital mortgage application for a community bank and pioneered a digital first mortgage. Clint is an optimist who believes in the opportunities technology can create for a business and has a B.S. in Computer Studies from Robert Morris University in Illinois.
Where did the idea for TrackStar.ai come from?
Before starting TrackStar.ai, I was initially an employee at a credit repair company called TrackStar. In the early teens, however, the owner of the company died in an untimely fashion and in the aftermath, I ended up buying the company. So out of 15+ years in the credit repair industry and my background as a programmer came the birth of TrackStar.ai – a melding of both worlds.
TrackStar.ai, is a new, predictive API designed to help enterprise institutions offer better and more accurate loans to customers – all based on information in the 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.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Since most of my team is East Coast-based, I start very early. Usually, I read the Wall Street Journal and/or New Your Times before I even get up from bed, as it helps me be informed for the day’s conversations and it’s a great way to get going in the morning. Make no mistake, this usually only last a few minutes before I’m interrupted, but that’s part of the deal and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Those early mornings are usually the most productive, conference and Zoom calls of course, then sales reviews, code reviews, budget meetings, and the normal day-to-day aspects of running a business. After the day quiets down, however, I can really get some work done. These late-night hours give me and my development team the uninterrupted time needed to get the technical tasks done for that day. Some days it feels like I get more work done after five o’ clock but the truth is, you’re never off the clock. As an entrepreneur, I wake up invigorated and terrified all at the same time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The shortest answer is trial and error, as I generally have many ideas that never get off the ground. Those that do were the ones that I put more thought into and researched its application in the real world. In most cases I discovered someone has already thought of that idea, but that’s ok because I am not them and they don’t have my experience, which is what brought me to this idea anyway – my experience. I find that if you can improve the experience or effectiveness of something, follow through and write down the concepts and dependencies required to create this idea. Then run it by countless experts and others in that field to determine if the idea is something that’s appealing and gets constructive feedback. If most of the people around you tell you it’s great all the time, then you might need to get a new crew, because you need real-world application data to understand how you can bring this idea to life, from honest people who understand it. Once you’ve established that this really is a good idea, build it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
This may sound cliché but Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (which is being widely adopted) is probably one of the most exciting trends to me. I don’t mean the creation or the achievements that have come our way, that doesn’t excite me because as a society we are always innovating and some of the algorithms we use today were invented in the 1950’s. What excites me is that this technology is finding its way into our everyday lives outside of our cell phones. It’s not just big business that can interpret the benefits, anyone and everyone can now see how technology is changing our lives at a break-neck pace. Our world will change more over the next 10 years than it has the last 50 in my opinion, simply because we are getting better at adopting technology.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit that makes me better is listening, plain and simple. Listen to your clients, listen to your employees, listen to your advisors. Take in as much information as you possibly can, as there’s always room to learn more. Over the years I learned that there is no better way to truly understand someone else’s perspective and make them feel content then listening to them. It’s extremely powerful and shows you care about what they have to say.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to take the leaps. Even when I did take a leap of faith founding the company, after having failed before, I wasn’t sure I would succeed. Know that you have the ability to change, both yourself and everything around you to make success happen. And don’t ever think you’re done because this is just the beginning.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Anything can be accomplished, if you don’t have the money you’ve got plenty of time. If you’ve got all the money you need, there’s never enough time. Success will always be a balancing act.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keeping an open mind. I read books about topics I want to learn more about – whether that be Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, Security or tips on leading a work-from-home team through a pandemic. Keep learning, keep reading, knowledge is power and can save you more than you realize.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
A strategy I’ve learned that has also helped grow my business is getting in front of the right people. You can spend all day cold calling, or you can research and network to get a meeting with the person you need to be speaking with. Being on the bleeding edge of fintech means that not everyone is willing to take a look, so I’ve had to learn that the hard way. The most challenging part is getting the opportunity to talk about our value proposition and as time goes on, you learn which people are going to hear you out which is worth it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I was probably 10 years old, I wrote a promissory note for the $10 that I loaned my sister. It clearly outlined the interest, fees and repayment schedule, so there was absolutely no reason she wouldn’t pay me back, right? She’s six years and one day older than me, so she has always been my big sister. Well, she didn’t see the need to repay me the $10 plus interest and the weeks went on and the interest and late/penalty fees were starting to rack up, so I confronted her about it. She appropriately dismissed my argument as frivolous and this was my first failure as an entrepreneur. I was out the $10 plus interest, penalties, and fees of course, so I had to come up with a better way. I’m dating myself, but this was before wide-spread internet access, so I asked the adults close to me that I felt were successful about it. One person introduced me to leverage, so the next time my sister wanted to borrow money, I held her favorite pair of shoes hostage until she paid me back, which she did. With interest.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Not everything has to be a huge endeavor, so I would start a side gig teaching people online how to do basic computer skills. Start out by obtaining certifications in the technology you want to teach and go at it! When the pandemic hit, there were hundreds if not thousands of companies looking for someone to teach them how to use Zoom. People today are very willing to shell out a few bucks to get the knowledge they need to be more productive.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Considering I haven’t really left him house all that much in the last year or so, the best $100 spent recently would probably be stock. I’ve been getting on some of these SPAC IPOs and doing well and with small amounts it’s also not stressful. If you have an extra $100, invest it, don’t just blow it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Being a software guy, this answer could go on for days. But the best software I can recommend is the password keeper app and my other two factor authentication apps. Nothing else matters if you can’t access it or if it gets hacked.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
That would have to be ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. The original is a bit dated in technology, but the principals are still valid today. Treating people with dignity and paying attention to details will make you a better leader than anything. He talks about how important it is to have an approachable leader.
What is your favorite quote?
“Work Smarter Not Harder.” – Allen F. Morgenstern
- Use trial and error to bring your ideas to life
- Listen to people to not only grow, but to connect with them
- Don’t be scared to take the leaps, especially early in your career
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.