MY WEEK: George Spencer, Rentify

In the two years since George Spencer started his property management site, it has grown to 25 employees. Here, he talks burglaries and acquisitions.

by Josie Dent
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
On Monday, the offices of my property management website, Rentify, was burgled. They got away with £15,000 worth of computers, which was slightly painful.

The thing about the burglary is that you’ve got to make sure people don’t have their work disrupted. The first thing we did was to go out and buy exactly the same computers again, and then restored them all from backup, so people only lost about three hours of their day.

Now I have to deal with insurers, file police reports, and have alarms fitted in the office. But it’s more important that I do it than disrupt other people’s work and time.

We also tied up a big acquisition deal. It’s the first acquisition we have made: a company called Iigloo who are one of the incumbents in our market and we brought across all of their users, which was amazing! We signed off on the deal on Thursday, and got all the paperwork done on Friday. That was probably the most boring part of my week, but it was fantastic to get the deal done.

I identified the opportunity for Rentify when I was managing properties for friends and family. I realised the model that letting and estate agents have is the opposite of what a landlord wants. Estate agents are all about quantity, and landlords really want quality: they want good people in their properties.

We founded the business in 2011 and raised about £350, 000 in seed funding to build a software platform for landlords, to help them market manage and make money from their properties. Then, at the end of 2012, we raised £2m from Balderton Capital. That money was to grow our reach and expand our team, which is now 25 people, with a view to growing. We hope to have 40 people by the end of the year.

We work pretty long hours and are in the offices from 7.30am until 10.00pm or 11.00pm at night. But it’s worth it, we’re one of the biggest letting agents in the UK, competing with the likes of Countrywide and Foxtons, with a fraction of the number of employees.

For breakfast, I eat Weetabix while doing my e-mails. I used to have a job in advertising, and I worked on the Weetabix account, so it’s stuck with me that I always buy that cereal.

When I’m not working, I’m trying to do something not at all like work in any way: I don’t sit around the house and read a book or surf the Internet. I like to go on walks, play football or go out for dinner, so I go out to restaurants a lot.

I really like La Trompette in Chiswick, and Pizza East is great because it’s really close to our offices in Shoreditch, and they do a good pork belly pizza!

When you’re in a startup you don’t have the resources of a huge company: the really hard part is having the courage of your convictions, and to say ‘this is the right thing to do’, even though you are doing something that’s never been done before.

It’s also a tough task persuading people to join you on your journey, but it’s satisfying when you manage it, and we’ve done a great job of it here.

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