Magilla is a search engine for mortgages and business loans

If you’ve ever needed to take out a mortgage or a loan for your business, you probably know how difficult it is to find the right terms or borrower to work with. Magilla Loans is seeking to change that by providing a search engine designed to connect borrowers with banks that might want to lend them money.

The key to Magilla is that borrowers remain anonymous and don’t provide personal information until they decide to choose a loan. That way they can compare options without being spammed by banks or having their information sold to third parties.

By answering a series of questions based on their borrowing needs and financial situation, borrowers can receive multiple loan proposals from FDIC-insured banks in just a few hours. They can then easily compare the terms and conditions of those proposals before choosing the lender they want to work with.

But to make that work, the search engine needs to understand the underlying underwriting used by banks to determine the rates and terms they would offer to borrowers based on the information they provide.

Magilla has more than 100 bank brands represented, with coverage across the United States for a variety of loan options. So far, Magilla has helped connect borrowers with $1.8 billion in loans, just a year and a half after it launched.

Magilla was founded by Dean Sioukas and Chris Meyer, who both come to the startup world after running their own commercial enterprises. Sioukas is an attorney-turned-real estate developer, while Meyer owned a group of funeral homes.

Both faced the challenge of finding providers and comparing loan options, so they hoped to take the friction out of the process while also ensuring they were able to pick the best option for their businesses. “I didn’t have time to leave my business and go bank by bank,” Sioukas told me by phone.

So instead, he built Magilla. When they began, the website asked users to complete a digital form that was similar to the type of physical paperwork that borrowers fill out in a banker’s office. But they have simplified the process by moving to a series of questions that adapt to the business objectives and financial situation of the borrower.

While Magilla started out as a kind of Kayak for mortgages for real estate owners and developers, the company has expanded its offerings to include different types of business loans for specific industries. That includes medical and dental offices, as well as restaurants and heavy-equipment owners.

“We have a team that will use our resources and connections to find loan officers or lenders to serve them,” Sioukas said. “If you’re the first borrower, you’re the pioneer but the next one is easier.”