Be Street Smart: Adrian Sutherland and Alex Sullivan

The property platform co-founder discusses getting rid of agency fees by cutting out the middle-man, financial planning and how to win early adopters

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Name: Adrian Sutherland and Alex Sullivan
Company name: Be Street Smart
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 01/10/2014
Number of employees: 2
Tell us what your business does:
We’re a property marketplace matching buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants without the use of estate agents.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I’ve bought and sold property and been a landlord and a tenant, the agencies fees being charged don’t represent consumer value so I set the company up to cut out the middle man.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I wasn’t prepared to pay £12,000 to sell a property with an estate agent and I resented paying £2,000 to find a tenant for my property. As I work in the industry, I am able to talk with people going through similar fees and soon realised I was not the only one who rested them.
What were you doing before starting up?
I worked for a foreign exchange company selling cross border payment solutions but I have been working within the property industry since for a number of years. My first job out of university was as an estate agent and since then I’ve become a landlord.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, for as long as I can remember and you have to be somewhat entrepreneurial to be a landlord.
How did you raise the money?
The business has been funded by my business partner and myself to date, although we will be going through a fundraising round shortly to take the business to the next level.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
The business model is quite simple. It’s free for landlords and sellers to list and find their tenants and buyers, but we offer optional services which we charge for if clients need help with the transaction.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The main challenge has been getting properties on board as we are a new platform and therefore relatively unknown. To get our first few properties on board, we offered all of our paid for services for free in the first month. Offering an incentive really helps to encourage early adopters to your platform and then you just have to prove that you’re a winning service.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Definitely seeing people start to use the service – getting the first 10 properties listed on our site was the biggest breakthrough so far!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Do your research to understand your market and work out your financial projections based on worse case scenarios – this way you’re prepared for everything and you have the basics set up for a business plan and for if you go after funding.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years we want to have a 10% market share of the London letting and sales market, and be looking to replicate the model in other UK cities.

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