Stumble Abode: Roshni Assomull
The co-founder of the online private rental network says getting the first property listed on the site was the hardest part
Name: Roshni Assomull
Company: Stumble Abode
Staff numbers: 2
Date launched: 11/02/2013
Tell us what your business does:
Stumble Abode puts buyers and renters directly in touch with sellers and landlords through an online platform. Our site aims to add a more human aspect to property searching so people can get to know the people to whom they are selling and letting.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I wanted to invest in a small flat that I could rent out. I tried to schedule viewings but had constant issues since I worked late and lots of agents didn’t want to do weekend viewings. When I finally saw a flat the agent spent less than five minutes showing me around and then gave a small speech on why it was the time to buy. He then passed on my details to a mortgage broker who called me incessantly for a month. I knew there had to be a better way.
How did you know there was a market for it?
After my personal bad experience with estate agents I started to notice many of my colleagues grumbling about agents too and the frequency at which they moved flats. We all worked long hours and didn’t want to waste time scheduling appointments that were constantly rescheduled or sometimes wouldn’t even take place. From then on, I knew there was a market for change.
What were you doing before starting up?
I used to work in investment banking at Citigroup. I was there for just over a year and a half. Towards the end of my time there I started working on the site with my business partner, Vikas Ranganathan, on weekends. When I finally left the bank I knew I wanted to work on it full-time.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Initially, I started applying for jobs in certain companies which had amazing start-up stories. Then I realised that I had an idea and could have a start-up story of my own if I followed it through.
How did you raise the money?
At the moment our site is self -funded. We will start looking for investment once we have more data on our market and once we have refined our business model.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Getting the first few properties on the site was really challenging and I’m sure we have many more challenges ahead of us. I drove all around London collecting local newspapers and called people with property classifieds. No one wanted to be the first person to post. Finally one person came through. We sent him and our other first ten users a box of chocolates as a thank you for believing in our site.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Our site is currently free to use but once our user base has grown we will start charging. We are working on developing an app and will also develop a personal service for the less tech savvy landlords where we will go in to homes, take photos and add the listing for which there will be a fixed charge.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Getting the first few listings on the site and positive feedback from landlords really meant that we were doing something well and that we were onto something. We’re now working hard on marketing to make sure the landlords that had faith in us are well served through our site.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with positive people. Ignore the pessimistic types who knock the idea and mock your courage for wanting to see it through. Spending too much time with negative people will just make you doubt yourself. You need all the encouragement and positive reinforcement you can get to achieve your dreams.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time we hope the site will be international and a household name when it comes to property. We hope to eliminate the role of the estate agent and show people that they can save time and money by taking a more proactive approach to property.