The Silicon Review
“We ensure we’re continually investing in our products to make the experience of comparing financial products easier.”
Most consumers are used to comparing flights and hotels to find deals on travel, but that’s not the case when it comes to comparing financial products such as mortgages and insurance. Enter rate comparison companies, which are aiming to make comparing to find the best deals a way of life in the financial marketplace.
One such firm which helps customers save money by guiding them to compare insurance, mortgages, credit cards, and more is LowestRates.ca.
Lowestrates.ca allows Canadians to compare rates for free. With its technology, the customers see, at a glance, what rates companies are willing to offer you on the product you’re looking for. LowestRates. is always adding more products to its roster, having recently expanded into home insurance and personal loans. The company compares the largest banks, brokers and insurers in Canada so that consumers can find the best prices online without having to call those financial institutions themselves.
In Conversation with Justin Thouin, LowestRates.ca CEO
What was the reason behind the genesis of LowestRates. ca?
The company was set up after myself and co-founder Cliff Ritter returned from working in the U.K., where I was introduced to rate comparison websites — which are a way of life in the U.K. However, when I returned to Canada, I walked into my bank branch to get a mortgage. I tried to negotiate a better deal than the one that was offered to me, but the mortgage agent wouldn’t budge.
I then ended up calling dozens of other brokers to find what they were offering. Eventually, I brought those offers back and got a better offer at my bank. I felt this was a terrible consumer experience and worked with Cliff on launching LowestRates.ca so consumers could compare without the hassle of phoning up providers themselves.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
The biggest challenge was just getting people to our site. In the first year, we essentially had no traffic, and that created all sorts of problems. If you have no customers then you have no partners, either. We worked on a number of fronts to try and get the word out there, from trying to land our name in the press, to running contests, to creating compelling content people wanted to read.
This was especially tough because we were bootstrapped. We didn’t have additional funding. So if the idea didn’t work, we would have to shut our doors. Becoming profitable before we ran out of cash was our biggest challenge by far. Working our way towards our first $1 million in revenue was far tougher than everything since, but doing it without raising money also set us up to have a healthy, sustainable business. We’ve scaled up in a controlled way, and it’s led to a company that’s a lot more profitable than many of our competitors.
“Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?
This is an idea close to us here at LowestRates.ca. Whether through our content or calculators, we’ve invested in hiring the best and doing things well. We firmly believe in paying for talent. A lot of the world today has shifted toward doing things cheaply and quickly, but we believe in doing things well. The results speak for themselves.
How do you manage to resist/serve the needs of a highly volatile market?
Challenges are always going to emerge. Whether it’s a partner wanting to buy fewer leads or a change from Google that hurts our rankings, you have to be prepared to adapt. Our business is becoming increasingly diversified and that’s one way we adapt to volatility. While auto insurance in the past had been by far our biggest vertical, we’ve grown considerably in home insurance, mortgages, life insurance, and personal loans. This diversity and new revenue streams help us sail more smoothly when the market becomes volatile.
How do you maintain your customers’ trust and loyalty?
We ensure we’re continually investing in our products to make the experience of comparing financial products easier. We recently partnered with Canada Post and iClarify to launch a new home insurance quoter that we believe is the easiest and fastest way to compare insurance quotes in the country.
Traditionally, you’d have to look up information about your home to get a quote. Some of that information — such as how far you are from a fire station or the square footage of your home including your basement — wasn’t always readily available. With our new quoter, we pull this information and auto-populate a form field for you. It saves consumers a lot of time.
As well, we’ve invested in an experienced editorial team of journalists to create informative content about the financial products we compare. It shows our consumers we’re not just trying to sell them something. We also aim to educate and inform — that helps us build trust that we’re out there looking to help people save money and not just make a quick buck.
What factors make your company ‘lead’ the current market?
We’re dominant in SEO. We rank at the top of Google for key financial search terms such as insurance, often ahead of more established companies such as the major banks.
Do you have any new products ready to be launched?
We’re always launching new products. Within the next few months, we’ll be launching a brand new personal loan quoter that will allow consumers to quickly and easily compare the best rates on personal loans.
The Pre-eminent Leader behind the Glory of LowestRates.ca
Justin Thouin, Co-founder, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of LowestRates.ca. He is an EY ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award finalist and under his leadership, LowestRates.ca has ranked in the top 20 on Maclean's/Canadian Business' Growth 500 list of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies for the past two years, most recently placing 15th in 2019. The company also ranked 22nd on Deloitte's 2019 Technology Fast 50 and was awarded ‘Startup Canada’s High-Growth Entrepreneurship’ award due to its exceptional revenue growth.
“Whether through our content or calculators, we’ve invested in hiring the best and doing things well. We firmly believe in paying for talent.”