1 July 2019
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and why Reposit started?
In all honesty, I was in a position when I was looking for a new place to rent and found myself questioning the system in the residential lettings industry. It was dated and seemingly ripe for disruption. There are, as with many things, two sides to the coin of course.
The lump-sum needed to move into a property is ridiculous, especially here in London. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it is there, but I figured there must be another option. I was moving from one property that had taken a deposit, one that I would not get back for almost two weeks, into another, which, again, I was going to have to pay five weeks worth of rent before moving into. For so many people, coming up with that money before getting the old deposit back is a nightmare. People have to pay that as well as the first month’s rent. At best, it is a financial burden, at worst, it is simply unaffordable and one of the biggest expenses to consider – the cost of a deposit can stop people from moving to where they want to be, it forces them to accept the second best. Stats actually show that for many, the bank of mum and dad or loans from friends, sometimes even payday loan companies, are taken out to move.
Deposits have been around for years, and although they are ingrained in society almost as an industry standard, they are not a necessity. Taking deposits is the norm, one which is not questioned. This, plus a lack of communication between agent, landlord and tenants, is part of the property industry’s ever growing platform of mistrust.
It is estimated that £4.5 billion is locked away in deposit protection accounts at any one time, accounts where neither the landlords or the tenants get any interest. I can’t help but think that that money could be put to better use, be it invested in an ISA, or even simply being happy. I know plenty of people that would be happy to have an extra grand or so in their pockets – that spending alone could be a noticeable change on our struggling high streets.
Reposit wants to change this by creating a process that helps all stakeholders. We want to make renting a fun and exciting process that isn’t slowed down by outdated processes.
What was your mission at the outset?
From the outset, the mission was to explore options and opportunities to take away the burden of such monstrous sums of money for tenants whilst providing a service that would keep landlords and their properties as protected, if not more protected, than the traditional deposits that went before.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Aside from being the only ones that can announce that we are the longest standing in the space here in the UK, I think we are different because of our focus on creating a modern process that is powered by serious technology. We continue to strive to create a system that helps all parties within the renting industry. We are also FCA approved, FSCS backed, and underwritten by Canopius – a Lloyd’s of London Top Five firm.
To what do you attribute your success?
A resilient mindset and being focused on creating and refining a product that makes sense for all parties and that is industry regulated. One that I have learned along the way is the ability to stop and take stock. Last year we could see there was a potential for learning, a time to stop and look at the bigger picture. We paused our sales operations, learned from what we had, worked hard, quietly. Several months later we came back with an adjusted product – one that we were confident was a market leader. It took some bravery to simply not plough on, selling as we went, but we have come out with a stronger team and product for it.
What is your view of InsureTech, in particular in London?
InsurTech and PropTech are possibly two of the most exciting sub-sections of the FinTech ecosystem right now with investment hitting new levels all the time. London is a melting pot of skills and events, find me another global capital that has both the financial district and the startup ecosystems flourishing, right next door to each other. For this sort of industry, it simply works perfectly for growth.
What are some of the most exciting innovations you have come across in this space?
I am super excited about startups that allow people to manage their money better. I have recently started using Yolt. Financial literacy isn’t taught anywhere near enough in schools so any product which supports this I see as a positive step forward.
What advice would you give to new start-ups about to raise investment?
I would say that it is important in the early stages to surround yourself with investors who can add real value to your company, and that you feel you can trust. There will be dark times during the startup journey, and you want people you can rely on to back you during those times.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned which have impacted the way you work?
Going through difficult times in the early days helped us build confidence and resilience. It also got us used to learning things quickly which requires continuous self-reflection and transparency that helped us not just when communicating with investors, but those are some of the key values we try to encourage within our team.
Which entrepreneurs do you respect and why?
I admire Elon Musk, his ambition, vision and work ethic are truly inspiring.
What would be your Technology predictions over the next five years?
AI and automation will begin to expand into every part of our lives and this will be seen not only in HomeTech and Healthtech, as we see now, but in all spheres of life.