We spoke to Stepan Dobrovolskiy, about his roles as CEO and co-founder of Mashroom, the end-to-end community lettings platform and CEO of emoov – the hybrid estate agent.
What do you currently do?
Mashroom is a unique end-to-end community lettings platform that connects incoming tenants with departing ones directly, instead of using traditional agents. It combines technology and community to deliver an efficient way to let, secure, and maintain your property. We reward outgoing tenants with up to one week’s worth of rent for liaising with prospective renters and carrying out viewings, while landlords minimise void periods and save on expensive high street fees, making renting easy. We are currently building the platform and will be launching it to customers in the next few weeks.
In December 2018, Mashroom Ltd acquired the branding and technology of online estate agent Emoov after it went into administration, and we relaunched the company in January 2019. As the CEO of the newly launched emoov, I am responsible for the running of the company with a focus on cherishing the customers that were let down by the previous Emoov brand. As well as new branding and a fresh website, we have been making further changes to our technology to further enhance our customer’s experience.
We have a vision to create a 360-degree property services marketplace based on community and technology.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Previous to becoming a startup founder, I worked as a partner at Kite Ventures, a venture capital firm, for six years. Whilst at Kite Ventures I was always fascinated with the property industry and was looking for the perfect PropTech startup with a sustainable business model to invest in.
Working at a VC, I recognised the wealth of opportunity and space for disruption in the property space. Property startups typically had low exposure to VCs, something I likened to the food delivery space and companies that are now booming such as Delivery Hero and Deliveroo. After struggling to find the perfect PropTech startup to invest in, I left Kite Ventures to found Mashroom.
Who do you admire?
Having worked for a venture firm previous to my role as CEO of Mashroom, I have huge admiration for our investors and their support of the product we are building. They believed in both myself, my team, and our vision, which is invaluable to help us scale and grow. Their backing has also enabled us to create a unique product that will change the world of renting and property management, truly disrupting the market as it looks like today. I also have huge respect for my team – their tenacity and drive are incredibly inspiring and we would not have achieved the development and milestones we have reached today without them.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
Looking back at our journey to date, there are some things that could have been better optimised from a product point of view, but this only comes from experience – hindsight is a wonderful thing!
These bumps in the road have allowed us to learn from our mistakes, and therefore grow and improve in the long run.
What defines your way of doing business?
Keeping the customer at the core of everything we do. As a business, we have seen and learnt that it is detrimental to not put your customer’s needs at the centre of everything you do.
At emoov, as well as Mashroom, we aim to make our customers lives easier and offer assistance throughout every step of our customer’s journey’s. As online services, we are able to provide our users with first-hand help from dedicated and experienced property agents.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
If you are about to embark on your own business idea or startup, it is essential to identify a problem that needs solving, and ensure that you do your market research. By sharing your idea with as many as people as possible, you are able to receive indispensable feedback. Many founders get scared that by doing this, their idea may be copied, however, the idea itself does not cost anything, but how you implement this idea does. By having feedback on your idea, you will be able to make a weighted and thorough decision on what areas to pursue, which to perhaps dispose of, as well as if there are any other areas you have not yet explored.