Solicitor-turned-entrepreneur Andrew Gardiner outlines his business journey founding proptech start-up Property Moose in 2013
Name: Andrew Gardiner
Location: Liverpool and London, UK
Date launched: February 2013
Number of employees: 13
What does your business do?
We provide an online investment platform which allows members the opportunity to invest in a range of properties from £10. With properties available throughout the UK, we pool investments together to create an individual limited company and acquire properties through this without the use of any mortgages or loans. Investors then receive shares in the limited company in proportion to their share of the property, giving them direct interest and control in their property investment.
We also offer fixed-term secured loan notes, which adds to our product offering.
With complete visibility, it’s a hassle free way to control and grow a diversified property portfolio, as well as an alternative way to invest.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Three years ago I saw a gap in the market for a simple platform that would democratise property investment and offer UK investors a fully integrated crowdfunding experience in the property space to allow them to get around large cash deposits, banks and mortgages. That’s when Property Moose was born.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Crowdfunding in the UK was in its infancy, but the US market was much more developed and significant in size. The precedent from overseas, combined with the dissatisfaction of the public with their traditional financial services providers, and the genuine need for an alternative, meant I knew we could establish traction.
How did you raise funding, and why?
When it came to raising capital, we looked to crowdfunding and launched a campaign with CrowdCube. We became the fastest ever pitch funded at the time and raised 280 per cent of our target, further proving that there was an appetite for our product. From there we have continued to grow from strength to strength and have completed three additional fundraises and have received venture capital backing from an institution.
Describe your business model in brief
Interested investors log on to propertymoose.co.uk, complete their profile (this includes an identity check and appropriateness test), and then choose a property or loan that they wish to invest in. They can then invest online in just a few seconds.
We provide all of the available information about the opportunity and also have an interactive investment calculator to view projected returns and key information, so this can be researched ahead of any investment.
Once the fund amount has been reached, each property is acquired by an individual limited company. Investors then receive shares in the limited company in proportion to their share of the property, giving them a direct interest in the property. Once the property is tenanted, monthly income is paid into the investors’ accounts, and when the property is sold after the fixed-term, any capital growth, along with the individual’s initial investment, will be returned.
For loan-notes, returns are paid at the end of the fixed term, which is typically just 12 months.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
We cross milestones each month so it is difficult to keep track, and we are guilty as a business of not recognising some of the amazing things we achieve!
Having members in more than 50 countries is one of the statistics that I bound around – I find it humbling that the technology that we have built and the products that we offer are being used at around the world. We don’t market ourselves anywhere, so this is incredible validation.
The first milestone would be raising enough investment to fund our first project – with just 36 members of Property Moose at the time. We now have more than 14,000 members, but I will never forget the importance of the first fundraise and thinking ‘it’s working!’
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
In light of the above – don’t forget to enjoy the journey! It is very easy to get bogged down in daily tasks – answering emails, modelling, designing and managing a team – and forget about the things that you are achieving along the way. Do not become desensitised, take stock of your achievements, and recognise the wins of your team, whilst continuing to look forward.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years we want to be a household name continuing to provide a genuine alternative to traditional financial institutions and products. We are working hard to achieve this goal each and every day and we are confident that the appetite is such, and with a lot of hard work, that we will achieve our aims.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
Before starting Property Moose, I worked in the City as a corporate solicitor so I think I’d still be there!
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
I am a firm believer that you have to pursue your dreams sooner rather than later – there is diminishing returns the longer you leave it, and who knows, it might just work!