Building a company from the ground up is one of the most challenging things we can do, and there are inevitable ups and downs throughout the journey. With a staggering 90% of all new businesses falling through, the odds are stacked against aspiring business founders. Paul Young, at Settled looks deeper.
Choose something you are passionate about
The most important, number one step, is to choose something you’re passionate about. Being a founder is tough and you will inevitably go through highs and lows throughout your journey. That’s why it’s essential that during those times, you are getting up for something that you’re genuinely passionate about improving. The drive to solve what you see as a problem will help shape your business and also help you find the right people to support you along the way.
For me, the interest in property came from my family, particularly my father and grandfather. My grandfather helped design his house and showed me the blueprints, so as a young lad, I naturally wanted to be an architect! My dad also had a keen interest in property, which meant that as a family we would always chat about houses.
After graduating from university, I qualified as a mortgage broker and spent time working within an estate agent. Six months in and the financial crash hit, which forced me to take stock of my options. From there I went into marketing, joining one of the big advertising agencies. It was during this time that I was inspired by technology and the power brands can have in creating change. During these years pretty much every industry was impacted by the invention of new digital solutions - except property.
After years of talking about how to solve this problem, me and my co-founder saw a gap for a customer-powered real estate transaction model. In 2014, we started building Settled - a property transaction platform for buying and selling homes that reduces the complexity in the home moving journey.
Here are a few key steps to help budding entrepreneurs succeed in their startup journey.
Develop your business idea
Spend time developing and putting your idea to the test and always work in MVPs (minimum viable products). It can sometimes feel a bit daunting getting your ideas out there, but the feedback from people is invaluable and will help you develop the best possible solution.
At Settled, we’ve had many challenges and had to consider what features to work on first. In fact, as a founder, the skill you need to get good at quickly, is saying no to the right things.
We started by connecting with real people, spending lots of time discussing and ideating what the ideal property transaction should look like for this generation. As a result, we worked hard on a technology and service that feels quite different to conventional methods. It’s been rewarding to see how empowering customers with the Settled product has had a direct impact on how successful a transaction is - we’ve halved the time for a typical sale period and increased the likelihood for completion.
Create a team that is passionate about your values as much as the work
A connected, collaborative and passionate team will fuel your journey and make things happen. Inspire your team by being explicit about your mission and the culture you are cultivating behind the scenes. No one succeeds in business alone, so choose your people carefully because they will be the one to bolster your success.
At Settled, we’re hugely passionate about our team and our collaborative approach comes from a desire to work together and create better solutions. We all feel we’re contributing to something meaningful, which can and does impact our customers’ lives.
To date we’ve saved homeowners around £6 million in estate agency fees, and I like to think we’ve also saved them hundreds of headaches and sleepless nights along the way.
Consider the right investment for your business
Finding the right type of investment is important, so spend time thinking about what the most appropriate funding model and investor profile would be for your business. Focus on building a track record that can help you attract the right investors.
As a business, we’ve chosen to take investment from some of the best funds (including American VC 500 Startups, Connect Ventures and Piton Capital). We’re all completely aligned and see the potential for a different, more technology focussed model in this sector.
Paul Young is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of fast-growing UK VC-backed proptech business Settled