Online Marketplaces: Please, tell us a little bit about your company.
Ben Davis: PropertyHead is a UK-based property social network and we're actually the property social network that's actually trademarked. What we've done effectively is build a property portal but integrated it with a social network and when we did that we realized that it would be quite nice to have a sort of property company marketplace on there as well; it's mostly for tradesmen, builders, electricians that we've combined put it all together. The idea being, anyone in the UK with any issues or problems, all having to do with property, should be able to find the answer on Property Heads or find the person that has the answer and collaborate with them on the network.
OM: When was the company established?
BD: The company was established at the start of last year (2018) and really throughout the life of the company to date, we've just been developing the product. As of three months ago, it was ready to show people, so we have been getting companies on board. We're up to 8000 UK property businesses on the platform and very shortly we're going to be launching to the consumer.
OM: Are you one of the co-founders?
BD: There are three of us, I'm the majority shareholder, Property Heads was my baby, it was my idea, I came up with it several years ago. I teamed up with Steve who's a fantastic full stack developer as the other co-founder, and he's been doing a lot of the work on the development side and leading the development team, actually building the product. The third co-founder is my brother, he helps me a lot and I on the business side of things.
OM: This year's conference themes "Disrupt or be Disrupted", which applies to Property Heads?
BD: When you say "disrupt," I think of someone who is doing something slightly different, I think many of the products we are trying to sell, they are not currently available, so in that sense, we are creating new markets as well as disrupting ones already in place. So, if you look t the property portal side of the business, we don't charge agents to list properties, and we never will. But because we have integrated this social network, it gives us a lot of other potential revenue streams from agents so, for example, we should have a lot of data on our users, and we can use that data to put the agents' properties in front of the right people at the right time, and that's a product we can sell. We can expand or contract the agents' visibility on the site and their reach on the social network can be monetized.
OM: What sort of advice can you give other startups who are just starting out?
BD: I'm not sure we are far enough to be giving advice to others, but I guess the biggest hurdles we've come up against to date have been that we didn't realize the scale of the project we were taking on when we first started, so it's taken us longer to come to market than we initially would have liked, and we also left the capital raising a bit later than would have been ideal. Also, don't approach established companies that you intend to have as clients until you're ready. I always had a great vision of what PropertyHeads would be and I think that now we're pretty much there but speaking to several very well known and prestigious real estate agents six months ago when it didn't look very nice was a bit counterproductive.
In my previous life I raised funds for private equity hedge funds I raised probably over a billion euros over my career. The raising money isn't the issue for Property Heads, getting the right partners on board is at this stage, I think raising the money will not be a problem but because we're a new name in the market, it's about getting the right shareholders on board to give us the added credibility.
OM: Since this is your first Property Portal Conference, what are your expectations?
BD: I'm here to learn. 18 months in, we are still relatively new in the industry, there are obviously more seasoned professionals than me; I know the UK market very well, but it would be interesting to see what people are doing overseas and obviously meeting potential investors and partners at the same time.
Over 230 attendees are expected at our next event - the Asian Property Portal Watch Conference in Thailand. The Conference will be held in Bangkok from 26th to 27th February 2020, and it will run for two days, featuring expert Industry Speakers, Innovative Companies at the forefront of the online real estate industry. The Asian Property Portal Watch Conference also offers amazing Social Events, a perfect opportunity for networking.
We hope to see you there.
Join us February 26-27 for the Property Portal Watch Conference Bangkok 2020.