Serial tech entrepreneur, Mayank Mathur, talks to Business Matters about his proptech company, The Urban Collective, which launches its Seedrs campaign to raise £250k today to fund the development of a ‘lettings robot’, about what advice he would give to anyone starting out.
I am the Founder of The Urban Collective. I’m also involved in advisory roles for cutting edge AI and Blockchain startups. The Urban Collective launched in 2017 to revolutionise the rental market for tenants, making the drawn out, painful process of renting quicker, simpler and more enjoyable. Our ‘Sherpa’ service and search app make finding the perfect home four times as quick – cutting the time it takes from 40 or more hours to just 10.
We’ve just launched a Seedrs equity crowdfunding campaign to raise £250k to help us develop an artificial intelligence ‘lettings robot’ that will streamline the rental search process even more and help us break into new markets.
When my wife and I were looking for a flat to rent in London, having relocated from abroad, we spent 75 hours searching for a home, having discussions with 13 – 14 agents and viewing over 40 properties before finding our perfect home – and that was before all the moving admin.
We realised we were facing the same challenges in our home search as we had faced back when we first came to London in 2002. We were confident that there was a better way of renting and that the process could be substantially improved, through the smart use of technology. We partnered with co-founder Octavian Pop. A former real estate agent, he was one of the very few agents we worked with during our search who really understood the challenges that tenants face.
Our goal is to make the renting experience more transparent, efficient and simpler for tenants. We work for tenants, searching through listings and off market properties, reviewing all the information available to find the best options for our clients. We do this through our team of local experts, our Sherpas, as well as by working in collaboration with our own network of agents and landlords. We work as completely independent advisors, on behalf of our clients, the tenants, which is why our fees are fixed (no index against a property’s rent value) and we do not receive any commission from agents or landlords.
In my nine years as a technology investment banker at Morgan Stanley and Citi, I had an opportunity to work closely with several inspiring entrepreneurs. I have consistently learnt from these entrepreneurs – how to go after big problems, create long-term plans while maintaining a sharp execution focus, take calculated risks, that lead to excellent results!
As an entrepreneur, there are always things that could be done better, faster or differently. I couldn’t pinpoint a specific moment, but I think it’s crucially important to reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t. I strive to continuously learn – it’s a never ending process for an entrepreneur.
Spend a lot of time early on understanding your target market’s challenges and frustrations, rather than applying a narrow solution to just a small part of the problem.