Each week we catch up with a different entrepreneur to discover what makes them tick, their top tips and more. This week we spend five minutes with Dan Gandesha, Founder and CEO of Property Partner.
Hi Dan! Can you briefly explain what Property Partner does?
Property Partner is an innovative crowdfunding platform that enables anyone to invest in individual residential property in a simple, accessible and responsible way. Investments start at as little as £50 and so far, more than 5,000 individual investors have funded the purchase of 98 properties, worth over £15 million.
We’re also making things better for tenants and Britain’s small developers. We’re professionalising buy-to-let: setting fair rents, fixing problems quickly and upgrading our estate – because we know the best way to have properties full is to have happy tenants. And by providing much-needed cash-flow to small developers, Property Partner is also doing its bit to boost housing supply.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The idea behind Property Partner first came to me in 2013. At the time, my wife and I were looking to buy a flat in Putney, London. We had a reasonable budget, but it quickly became apparent that our money wouldn’t go far there. So we decided to hold off for a while, which left our deposit sitting idly in a savings account.
Then one day, while walking down the Upper Richmond Road in Putney, I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign and an idea popped into my head. I imagined a stock market ticker running on the outside of the house and asked myself why the property market couldn’t be a little bit more like the stock market. With the stock market, if I want to invest in a specific company, I can buy a piece of it rather than the whole thing. While I own it, I receive an income stream in the form of a dividend, and when I want to exit, I can do so on a platform at a price that reflects the underlying value of my asset. Fired up, I set to work on the complex task of bringing my idea to life – in other words, essentially building an online stock exchange for residential property.
What is your favourite part of your job and what is your least favourite part?
I love it when we deliver something totally new for our customers. We did that when we launched our globally unique secondary market, which has, for the first time, brought liquidity into the residential property asset class. We did it again when we made it possible for anyone – not just institutions and family offices – to invest in institutional-grade residential blocks through our platform.
I hate any kind of inefficiency, so the least favourite part of my job is when I’m called away from the office to attend an hour-long external meeting, only to spend the first 20 minutes talking about the weather. I’d like to remove every shred of time wastage from my working life, but I can’t.
What time does your day usually start and end?
My average workday runs from 7am to 11pm. Having said that I’m not in the office until 9.30am and I always try to leave by 6.30pm, so that I’m home to put my son to bed and have dinner with my wife. I work in the gaps inbetween – on the train to and from work, and into the evenings after dinner.
Do you manage to achieve a good work/life balance?
Not really, but to me that’s the wrong question. As an entrepreneur you’re always going to be working – evenings, weekends, 24/7, so work/life balance is impossible. It’s about work/life integration. For example, this Christmas I’ll be taking a holiday, despite the fact that it’s only a year since we launched. But as long as I have an hour each day on my laptop, I’ll be fine.
Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you learn from them?
We originally planned to launch Property Partner in October 2014, but delays with conveyancing our first property in Croydon meant we had to push it back to November. Then we realised that launching a platform like ours just before Christmas was a really bad idea, so we delayed again until January 2015. This process required a lot of ‘expectation resetting’ – for our equity investors and for the team. What I learned was that every launch in history happens later than you think it will. The important thing is, when you do launch, get it right.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone looking to start their own business?
Surround yourself with good people. I had no experience in property so surrounding myself with a team with the expertise I lacked was absolutely key.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have the backing of people like Ed Wray, the co-founder of Betfair, and Europe’s best investors including Index Ventures, Octopus Investments and Seedcamp. One bit of advice I would give anyone looking for funding is, don’t go after investors just for the money. As a sole founder building a marketplace, the support, guidance and mentorship I receive from our board and investors is absolutely priceless.