By NASH NUNNERY
Bill Rayburn is not known for mincing words.
The former University of Mississippi professor-turned-entrepreneur isn’t afraid to share his vision for the financial business or Oxford, his adopted hometown. Rayburn, who co-founded mortgage tech leader FNC and built the company into a banking industry standard before it was sold to CoreLogic for nearly $500 million, believes Oxford can be the next Austin.
For Rayburn, it’s not a pipe dream.
After all, FNC started when Rayburn, Dennis Tosh, Robert Dorsey and John Johnson – all fellow Ole Miss finance professors and consultants – identified a need to manage collateral assets in mortgage transactions. The rest is history – FNC became one of the nation’s premiere mortgage appraisal system companies before its 2016 acquisition by Corelogic.
“Making money is nice but my goal is to make Oxford, Mississippi the next Austin, Texas,” said Rayburn. “Within 20 years, we want to add 10,000 high-tech jobs. Oxford has a great cultural scene, Ole Miss, three tech companies and a large manufacturer in Winchester.
“If we are going to improve our state from being number 50 in everything, you must have a national perspective and aim high.”
Rayburn helped construct FNC on the company’s ability to create integrated mortgage processing for the nation’s largest banks. The challenges were numerous, including the fact that Oxford is off the radar when it comes to traditional technology centers. According to Rayburn, FNC’s advantage was that its investors were from the region, many of them former Ole Miss staff or graduates.
“Mississippi and Oxford were the perfect place for our company,” he said. “The naysayers figured we couldn’t survive in a small Mississippi town but our location was proven to be a blessing.”
Rayburn, a Petal native who ran track and played first-chair French horn in high school, grew up around real estate. His father was a real estate developer and builder in the Pine Belt. Rayburn chose to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned an undergraduate and a Master in Finance.
The reason wasn’t complicated for the younger Rayburn.
“I applied to several schools but my dad made the choice of USM simple,” said Rayburn, laughing. “He told me ‘I’ll give you a car if you go to Southern’. Made my decision really easy.”
Rayburn’s latest start-up evolved from the sale of FNC.
Mortgage Trade, or MTrade, was launched two years ago with the idea of streamlining the mortgage business into a better process with less manual data entry.
“CoreLogic didn’t want this part of the business, but I did and MTrade was born,” said Rayburn, who serves the burgeoning company as CEO. “Mortgage files are done differently by local banks and that’s a problem since the local banks more than likely are going to sell their mortgages into larger holdings.”
MTrade streamlines the information, saving time and virtually eliminating most manual intervention in the process. Based in Oxford, MTrade also has an office in New York City and boasts 135 employees, with 115 in Mississippi.
Still an avid runner, Rayburn says he’s driven to make a difference by creating jobs in Mississippi.
“We want to create new markets and new things,” he said. “I want to play on a national stage and that’s what I want for Mississippi.
“That’s how I give back.”
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