How Sundae Came to Be: A Love Story

When Josh Stech met Andrew Swain in late 2014, neither expected the way their relationship would take off. California native Josh and Welsh-born Andrew held leadership roles at their previous company in sales and finance, respectively. Rather than competing as sales and finance co-workers sometimes do, they quickly formed a bond.

“What surprised me about Andrew when we first met was how hard he pushed me,” recalls Josh. “From the start he was a strategic partner, urging me to think deeply and encouraging the growth of my team.”

Josh Stech and Andrew Swain

Working together on the executive team at a company specializing in hard money lending to property investors, both were already thinking about doing something bigger and more meaningful. But it wasn’t until they started trading ideas that they discovered their unique chemistry and shared future vision that would evolve into Sundae.

Aligned against a widespread problem

Helping bring the two of them together was the realization of a housing industry rife with predatory behavior that takes advantage of regular people. Working behind the scenes to lend money to real estate investment companies, Josh and Andrew both became aware of some of the telltale tricks used by unscrupulous buyers to maximize profits at the seller’s expense.

“It’s kind of the dirty secret of bad actors in the home buying business,” says Andrew. “They make a ‘vanity offer’ to reel you in, then conduct an inspection that turns up bogus issues so they can reduce the offer price. By this time, the seller has wasted days or weeks and is in a compromised position where they sell for way lower than what they should.”

The worst part about it, Sundae’s founders agree, is that this shady behavior targets people who are going through the worst times in their lives. Whether it’s foreclosure, divorce, job loss, or a death in the family, people looking to sell a house fast are often facing desperate times. Addressing this problem was a motivator for creating Sundae, and family values played a part in that.

“My grandfather made a modest life for himself fixing and building houses back in Wales, so the home renovation business is kind of in my blood,” says Andrew. “What drew me to Sundae is not just how massive this industry has become, but how big the opportunity is to make it better for homeowners. When I realized how often sellers get exploited, I wanted to do something about it.”

Josh has a similar perspective. “Working with my father when I was younger taught me some important lessons about how I want to be remembered,” he says. “Honor your commitments because your track record is everything.”

A foundation of complementary skill sets

Another mutual experience strengthened Josh and Andrew’s connection. They both spent time in hyper growth environments, where success depends on being scrappy, creative, and collaborative. Both leaders felt these were environments where they could thrive.

Josh brought operational know-how from several startups, where he picked up hands-on experience in real estate investment and private equity. Andrew meanwhile worked in fast-pace environments at Intuit and Airbnb and learned invaluable lessons in managing teams and building digital marketplace platforms. A key to their eventual launch of Sundae, both also spent time in the world of raising venture capital for new businesses.

“Our skill sets are very complementary and gave us the perfect combination of experience to start Sundae,” says Josh. “But more importantly, we both wanted to make a difference for people. Both of us believe that what matters most is what our customers think of us.”

This is the fundamental value that drives Sundae. Focused on homeowners who don’t have the time or resources to get a house market-ready, Sundae set out to change the industry for the better by helping customers get the best outcome when it’s time to sell. This has become the company’s mission statement, and it’s a direct reflection of the positive impact Andrew and Josh want to make.

What does ice cream have to do with real estate?

A common question people ask Josh and Andrew is why they named the company Sundae. In short–absolutely nothing.

“Our business has nothing to do with ice cream, just as some of the world’s largest and best-known brands have nothing to do with their names,” says Josh, citing Apple and Amazon as examples. “But our name helps to differentiate us with a positive, consumer-friendly connotation. And everyone loves ice cream.”

As the story goes, Josh always wanted to name a company Sunday–like the day of the week. It generates a feeling of nostalgia along with time spent with family and friends. He later found out that getting “Sunday” as a domain in addition to other logistics made him pivot. Josh recounted that:“Funnily enough, I was just searching away at GoDaddy for related names and GoDaddy suggested Sundae with an E…it evokes a lot of the same emotions as Sunday the day does for me. It brings you back to your childhood, it’s relatable and familial, and it’s disarming.”

Both Josh and Andrew went on to test it with their wives. Judging by how things are going today, it’s clear that the name Sundae passed with flying colors.

Getting Sundae where it is today

After an eventful few years characterized by rapid growth, Josh and Andrew say Sundae is still in the early phases of its journey. In the summer of 2021, the company announced its series C financing. That $80 million jolt has enabled the “small” business to grow rapidly to over 400 employees and growing.

The business model has also transformed. Sundae’s Marketplace connects homeowners and real estate investors on a single platform. This offers homeowners the potential to receive multiple offers for their properties. As of January 2022, Sundae is helping homeowners and investors connect in 23 markets across a variety of states. It’s no wonder that Forbes named Sundae as one of the next billion dollar startups.

Starting with heart when it comes to customers

Founded in late 2018 and officially launched in January of 2019, Sundae still operates with a mentality of relentless customer focus. This commitment to helping provide a better experience for its customers is at the very foundation of everything. After all, this was the shared philosophy that launched Andrew and Josh down a fateful path together as friends and business partners.

“What drew me to Sundae is not just how massive this industry has become, but how big the opportunity is to make it better for homeowners.”

-Andrew Swain

Josh and Andrew set out to create a company that doesn’t just respect and prioritize the needs of customers but also treats every house with the love and care it deserves. We’re committed to helping homeowners get a fair price for their house, as-is. Hearing what our customers say makes us proud that our team lives up to this tagline every day.

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Kyle Spearin

Kyle is Sundae's Real Estate Editor. As both an investor and content marketing professional, Kyle combines his passion for real estate investing and educational background with his love of helping others. His experience with real estate tech companies, including contributing to BiggerPockets Pro, gives him insight into markets across the United States.