We talked to Robert Jones of Property Investments UK on how he helps property investors from around the world find their perfect investment property and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Robert Jones: Everyone is well and healthy, thankfully. It’s been an ‘interesting’ year for sure. Our family has been working from home and our two children have been homeschooled for large parts of the year. Working from home has been normal for me as an individual for many years now, however it’s a different thing when you can’t visit places, have in person team meetings and have all members of the family at home and working at the same time, so it’s been a learning experience.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Property Investments UK.
Robert Jones: I’ve been involved in UK property investing since 2005 when I purchased a buy to let property in the North West. Having worked in the industry as an estate agent, property sourcer, landlord and developer I’ve seen most phases of the buying and selling process as a client and a business. In 2012 I created https://www.propertyinvestmentsuk.co.uk/ which was a property education company focused on content and media for people looking to get started in, and grow a UK property business. The learnings from growing this business seeded the idea of what could be possible if you looked at the whole property buying and selling process through the lens of modern technology, algorithms and machine learning potential. A new way of searching and researching properties to find the right properties for any buyer.
So in 2018 I met with different colleagues, in the tech industry, looked at different models and ways of doing things and created the vision statement of ” Building the world’s most intelligent property platform ” https://property.xyz/ was then born and started in September 2019 with development of the first version of the product.
How does Property Investments UK innovate?
Robert Jones: We are solving long standing problems for buyers, sellers and agents of UK residential property by using technology and access to new and existing data.
Old solutions focus on in person ways of selling or communication, or basic online search portals and fragmented data sets. Our solution innovates across all of these and is phased. The first phase is bringing all data into one platform as a research and search tool. As a platform this allows us to focus on all data sources, by partnering with best in class proprietary data sets and government data sets to bringing all data into one place for a user so their search is simplified and very fast. The next phase will be curating, using machine learning an enhanced user search experience, to search for the very best properties using criteria suited to modern property buyers and investors.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Robert Jones: We started development in Sept 2019 before the coronavirus was known and had a clear plan of development and growth. When the pandemic hit and the first lockdown started in the UK in March 2020 this meant we had to move quick to make key decisions on the business from work from home plans to product testing, key features focus and launch.
As our industry, property, was essentially closed for a few months, with all companies impacted, ranging from suppliers of new build home materials impacting build dates and timelines, to estate agents, showhomes and conveyancers offices closing, launching a new property search portal to a closed market meant delaying our plans.
What we did do very early was create multiple plans and business forecasts so we could develop a best case, worst case and expected case scenario for the company to weather any changes, whether that was in the UK property market or local lockdown restrictions, so it made our risk planning more robust,
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Robert Jones: Yes we did unfortunately. Primarily these we’re around launch date, key hires and investment raising. As the timeline impacted all of these.
We still progressed just with a different approach and time.
The key lesson learnt was being ready to make quick decisions and acting fast rather than hoping things would simply change or go back to normal
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Robert Jones: Personally I’ve changed my day to day habits, starting each morning with exercise as a way to gain clarity and win the day. As a company and team reducing stress and anxiety was key, this came with bringing in certainty wherever we could in a seemingly uncertain world. Communication was key. It’s an unusual time for everyone. Very early on we realised that keeping in touch with everyone we work with from team members to clients and suppliers regularly was very important. Having a clear strategy that everyone knows and can focus on was a part of this. Regular team meetings that had a clear tempo was very important to give the team quick wins and goals to aim for, otherwise it’s very easy to feel like there is no momentum as working from home always gives different experiences and views on how a company may be growing.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Robert Jones: We have launched with fantastic feedback from both property investors and agents. We’re adding new features and data sets every month and have some really exciting partnerships in conversation with other proptech companies, angel investors and strategic partners. The future is looking really strong there and the pandemic has created an environment where reaching out to new companies for partnerships has been welcomed by many. We have some large indirect competitors but lots of blue ocean to go after with new market share,
Your final thoughts?
Robert Jones: Very few planned or foresaw a pandemic impacting everyone across the world in such a way from taking people’s lives to shutting down whole industries and countries. It has truly impacted lives and livelihoods in devastating ways. Taking any positives from such an experience can seem difficult, however with the news of vaccines, changes in people’s behaviour and care for community, planet and environment, we are seeing a seismic shift across the world to new ways of doing almost everything.
There is light at the end of what has been a year to forget for many and with the rapid adoption of technology, community togetherness and new ways of living and business, I truly believe there are shoots of positivity for 2021 and beyond.