Our special series about tech businesses founded in 2020 highlights tales of resilience, remote relationships and pivoting. No.10: Property.xyz
Rob Jones has a mission to build the world’s most intelligent property platform to provide property investors, buy-to-let landlords, agents and property suppliers with everything they need to make informed decisions about buying and selling property.
He launched property.xyz in Macclesfield in August 2020, delayed from his original Q1/Q2 target when the pandemic hit.
“We’d been ready in March with what we classed as a minimum viable product, but then new-build developments stopped and a lot of the property market went into hibernation, so we were in flux,” he says.
With the team working remotely anyway, it meant the business could continue to operate, taking the extra time for user testing before August’s beta launch.
The platform allows investors to search through residential properties, listed by investment agents, estate agents, auction companies and new-build developers, using postcode and investor-specific data to allow them to find opportunities.
Properties can be filtered through things like house price growth, buyer demand or rent yield, bringing together information that would previously be available from visiting multiple sites, Jones says.
His eventual plan is to use machine learning and AI to curate the user experience to enable investors to make the best choices.
“It’s been an unusual marketplace to launch into because of the timing, but feedback has been good and traffic has increased,” he says, adding that the new ways of doing business brought about by the pandemic have actually been of benefit.
“Because of the acceptance for holding meetings via Zoom, it’s meant that we aren’t restricted by geography in where people are based.” Jones’ co-founder left a stable job in government to set up the business, which could have been risky during a pandemic, but Jones says the business is well placed to grow.
Establishing a business is about more than the numbers, and Jones says creating a company culture through a screen creates challenges, but regular virtual meetings ensure everyone feels part of the team.
One key quality has been in adaptability, particularly important when launching during such a delicate time. “We’ve always been quite hot on forecasting so we have plans in place for the next six months, three years and five years, but you have to be nimble to enable you to change these plans as the situation changes. “It’s important to have a plan A, B and C so you have a best case, worst case and middle case scenario.”
Moving forward, the business intends to bring on a data scientist and look for angel investment to enable growth. The pandemic, says Jones, has not hindered growth so far. “We’ve had a lot of conversations and approaches that might not have happened if COVID hadn’t happened,” he adds.CoronavirusCOVID-19