Banking & Finance

Navigating NCino: Banking Software Firm Continues To Grow

By Jenny Callison, posted Aug 25, 2016
Pierre Naudé, CEO of nCino, has overseen the Wilmington-based banking software company’s rapid growth. (Photo by Chris Brehmer)

With a growth rate of 1,800 percent over the past three years, nCino is making strides toward its goal of being the dominant banking software provider on an international scale. The company also wants to enhance the appeal of Wilmington as a place to do business, and a place where important business is done.

It is making progress on both fronts, as evidenced by two recent rankings.

Just last week, Inc. magazine announced its list of the 2016 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., and nCino debuted on that list at No. 220, joining eight fellow Wilmington-based companies including N2 Publishing.

That recognition followed closely the announcement by Forbes that nCino was fifth on its list of the best enterprise software startups to work for in 2016. It was the only North Carolina company on the list, which is heavy with firms in California and Massachusetts.

nCino officials had applied for inclusion on the Inc. list, touting the banking software company’s rapid growth since its founding in early 2012. But the Forbes listing, according to nCino spokeswoman Kathryn Cook, was a total surprise.

That list, distilled down to 53 of recent top-funded startups, used information from data tracker CrunchBase on these companies’ financing and anonymous employee reviews on Glassdoor, Cook said. 

CrunchBase data reflected nCino’s five funding rounds that have raised a total of nearly $64.7 million from nine investors.

nCino was created after Live Oak Bank leaders realized that its proprietary bank operating software program could have significant appeal to other financial institutions. The seedling company remained a subsidiary of Live Oak until June 2014, when the bank divested itself of ownership in nCino. 

A year ago, the company moved to offices at 6770 Parker Farm Road in the Mayfaire area. Its 235 employees now occupy 40,000 square feet in that building. 

With a firm foundation of community bank and credit union customers, nCino has set its sights on large banks and multi-member credit union service organizations (CUSOs). In the past year and a half, nCino has added three CUSOs to its customer portfolio. 

Two examples of its enterprise customers are SunTrust Bank, with assets of $175 billion, and Bank of the West, whose assets total $72 billion. The company has recently signed on several banks in the multi-billion-dollar category, such as Yadkin Bank ($7.5 billion in assets) and Renasant Bank ($8.5 billion in assets).

In late 2015, nCino logged its first international customer, a London-based bank. Officials have not released the name of the bank, Cook said.

With rapid growth has come an evolution in the company’s goals.

“When we started the company, we were focused on the community bank market – making them more efficient and improving the interaction between the [bank] employee and CPAs, lawyers involved in the lending process,” CEO Pierre Naudé said. “We did that for two-and-a-half years. When we had about 50 banks as customers … we said we could take this upmarket. That truly changed the trajectory as well as the long-term growth prospects of the company.”

Gearing up to serve enterprise banks has not been a leap, according to Jonathan Rowe, nCino’s director of marketing.

“There’s an obvious scale difference between large and small banks, but we’re solving the same problems,” he said, adding that nCino’s expansion has been a step-by-step process. 

Once the company was confident its cloud-based software could address the needs of big banks in the U.S., officials knew they had the tools to serve big banks elsewhere.

That was the plan from the beginning, according to nCino’s CEO.

“We always had a bigger vision,” Naudé said. “We tackled segments in a very disciplined way. Now we can [serve] any bank in the Western world. We are first approaching banks in the Commonwealth [Commonwealth of Nations] countries and in Western Europe. There’s revenue potential for nCino of over $10 billion in the West. The target market we’re defining is big enough to satisfy our three-to-five-year strategy.”

As it expands geographically and from community banks and credit unions into large banks, nCino is also broadening its array of software products, all built on the Salesforce platform.

“Our wholesale banking solution is best of breed,” Naudé said, noting that nCino is taking that program “to Canada, the U.K., Ireland and beyond.” Now, he added, “our goal is to have products for every employee in every bank.”

Those products have been developed with customer input, Rowe said, an approach that not only helped ensure the value of the software to customers, but strengthened the relationships between nCino and those customers.

The approach has also gotten the industry talking about nCino.

“There is a measurement in our industry to gauge how much [people] talk about you and promote you in the market,” Naudé said. “Our net promoter score, measured by an
outside firm, is 85 percent. That momentum will drive our growth. Banks actively promote us.”

Employees moving from a bank that uses nCino software to one that doesn’t help sell their new employers on the products, Cook said.

Rowe said that “nCino” has become a skill listed on LinkedIn.

These factors, plus what Cook terms a competitive salary and benefits package, and a recruiting approach that touts the Wilmington area’s quality of life, have helped
nCino in the all-important task of luring new talent. The company is snagging some experts in their fields, according to Naudé. 

One such person is Tricia Price, nCino’s new executive vice president of product development, who came to the company from Salt Lake City, where she had opened a new office for her previous Washington, D.C.-based employer.

“My primary reason for coming to nCino was the company itself. I could see the growth trajectory they were on,” she said. “I knew how quickly they were acquiring new customers and moving up the chain to enterprise customers and felt Pierre and the rest of the executive team were
on to something.”

About one-third of nCino’s employees are University of North Carolina Wilmington graduates, in line with Naudé’s commitment to hire locally when possible. Spears Maus interned with nCino when he was still a UNCW student double- majoring in finance and computer programming and was hired by the company as a sales engineer in
January 2015.

Having grown up in Wilmington, Maus planned to find a job elsewhere but now considers himself fortunate to have landed at nCino.

“nCino gives me the opportunity to travel, and now that we are going international and have our first London bank, there is an opportunity to travel internationally,” he said.

Maintaining a creative, positive employee culture is just one part of increasing the awareness of Wilmington as a business magnet, Naudé said.

“I think – I hope – we’ve brought a different perspective of how Wilmington is seen as a great place to do business that happens to be at the beach, rather than the reverse,” he said. “We’re a software company that will grow over the long term, and the beginning of a software sector in the city. We hope that sector will encourage the starting of new companies and the creation of an ecosystem.”

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