UIC Engineering Alum Martin Logan featured in Crain’s 2017 Tech 50

Martin Logan of Guaranteed Rate

When Guaranteed Rate decided to build the first fully digital mortgage-application, it turned to Martin Logan.

The Orbitz veteran had been working in Seattle for Amazon, where he was working on a consumer cloud-storage product for the Kindle, Fire TV and other devices.

Logan certainly had the geek cred, having built teams at Orbitz that tackled mobile and search-engine challenges. The University of Illinois at Chicago computer-science grad also had found time to write a textbook on the Erlang programming language.

Logan dug in quickly after signing on at Guaranteed Rate in 2014. It rolled out the new digital mortgage application the following year, ahead of competitors, Logan said. His to-do list included rebuilding the software architecture to handle greater scale, as well as upgrading the talent.

The idea of an online mortgage doesn't sound like a stretch, but Logan says it's harder than you think to allow a customer to do everything digitally, such as provide all documentation required. A big part of the challenge happens behind the scenes since mortgages are served up to investors on a huge variety of factors.

"The big hurdle to making the digital mortgage work was the sheer complexity of the mortgage process," the 40-year-old says. "There are thousands of products across hundreds of investors and each customer is different."

It paid off. The new technology sparked a big increase in business at the already fast-growing company, which gave its profile a major boost last year when it bought the naming rights to the Chicago White Sox stadium on the South Side.