The Entrepreneur: Frazer Fearnhead, The House Crowd
Having sold his previous property business for £2m, real estate entrepreneur Fearnhead is making major in-roads with his latest venture. So, what has entrepreneurship taught him?
Founder: Frazer Fearnhead
Company: The House Crowd
Description in one line: The world’s first property crowdfunding platform – helping people take control of, and build, a better financial future through investments secured by property.
Previous companies: The Armchair Property Investor
Turnover: £1.2m (this financial year)
12 month target: £2.5m
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
- The House Crowd is a property crowdfunding platform.
- We help people take control of their finances and invest for a better financial future.
- The House Crowd delivers predictable, consistent returns, secured by real bricks and mortar.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
The House Crowd continues to lead the way in the highly competitive property crowdfunding industry. We continue to focus on pursuing innovative products and have achieved significantly more growth than others, despite very well-funded competitors entering the market.
What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
Investment raised, number of new investors and visitors to the website.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
We have clients worldwide and are actively seeking partnerships with overseas platforms. This is going to be a key growth focus over the next 12 months.
Describe your growth funding path:
We began with seed capital in 2012, raising £130,000 from our own clients in 2014, in line with a company valuation of £3m.
In 2016, we raised £1m from our own clients, in line with a company valuation of £20m.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
MailChimp and Infusionsoft have been instrumental in helping us market what we do effectively to large numbers of people.
Building a website for your business idea is easier than you might think. Our online tool ranks the top website builders that offer free trials.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
I would like The House Crowd to raise £100m a year for its projects, and to attract increased institutional investment in our products.
We also want to partner with a number of overseas platforms in three years’ time.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
To overcome the fallout from the financial crisis, where I personally lost about £800,000 in revenue.
As developers went bust, I didn’t get paid the commission that I’d earned. I went through a few very difficult years getting back on my feet.
What has been your biggest business mistake?
Trusting the wrong people. I always tend to see the good in people, rather than being suspicious, and it has got me into trouble at times.
Thankfully my wife and my business partner are more adept at spotting those people we should avoid and they vet everybody before we do business with them.
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
There’s too many to choose from! I believe in a small government with minimal interference in business affairs. The government’s function should be to protect people from fraud, dishonesty and violence, rather than introducing more bureaucracy that over-complicates everyone’s lives, forever increasing the tax burden to pay for it.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Some entrepreneurs think that because they have a good idea, others will be as excited as they are. There are also entrepreneurs who invent products that don’t actually solve a problem. For example, why do I need to be able to turn my shower on with my phone? I don’t really get the whole smart home concept, or maybe I’m a crotchety old Luddite – who knows!
How will your market look in three years?
It will be at least 20 times bigger than it is now. The banks already perceive crowdfunding as a major threat, and it’s likely to become a viable mainstream alternative to traditional finance within 10 years.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Do the right things every day, however small, to move towards your goal. You’ll reach it quicker than you think.
My F-Type Jaguar. I get jealous of people who drive behind me – it’s got such a good-looking rear!
Executive education or learn it on the job?
I trained as a lawyer which had its uses but my own reading and experience has proven much more valuable.
What would make you a better leader?
Being less emotional and more patient.
What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?
That none of the problems that you lose sleep about really matter. In fact, I wish I could convince myself of that now.
One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:
Business: Google Maps is fantastic for getting a feel for a property and its surroundings.
Personal: Spotify is great, though I value music a lot less now that it’s so easily accessible.
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.