An Indian-origin teenager, Akshay Ruparelia, has become one of Britain’s youngest millionaires after his online estate agency business got valued at 12 million pounds in just over a year.
The 19-year-old juggled school work with negotiating property deals for his no-frills business that offers to sell properties for a fraction of the cost charged by established high street estate agents. This week “doorsteps.co.uk” became the 18th biggest estate agency in the UK – just 16 months after the website went live.
Ruparelia claimed he had sold 100 million pounds worth of properties since he set up his business. “After a couple of weeks the website was launched, a man in Sussex asked me to sell his home and a chunk of land he owned besides it. I had to pay my sister’s boyfriend 40 pounds to drive me to Sussex to take photographs of the house, as I hadn’t passed my driving test and didn’t have a car,” he recalled. The north London-based teenager was able to sell the property and land within three weeks, which set the ball rolling.
He started his company with 7,000 pounds, borrowed from relatives, and now employs 12 people. In the initial stages of his business, he hired a call centre to answer calls while he was at school and would return the calls after his classes. His model is based on hiring an ever-expanding network of self-employed mothers across the UK, who show clients around the properties he has been asked to sell.
The teenage tycoon believes his model is set to turn the property selling market away from agents in flashy suits. “Quite rightly people trust mums. Every mum who works for me will be honest and tell the truth. It is important. For the majority of people selling their home is the biggest financial transaction of their lives,” he told the ‘Daily Mirror’.
Ruparelia said he got the business idea after reading the biography Ryanair airline founder Michael O’Leary. “O’Leary began by selling flights for just 4.99 pounds. His point was that if you can offer customers something at a price they can’t believe and you deliver what you say you will, you hook people in and your business will work,” he said. The 19-year-old is now well on his way to support his two deaf parents, who he said were very proud of him. His father, 57-year-old Kaushik, is a care worker and mother, 51-year-old Renuka, is an assistant teacher for deaf children and a support worker for deaf children with Camden Council in London.
Ruparelia has got an offer to study economics and mathematics at Oxford University but has decided to put that on hold to grow his business. He began by paying himself 500 pounds a month from the profits, which he has increased to 1,000 pounds a month and is saving up to buy his first car.