Secrets of Success: Ben Ridgway & Jamie Cooke, co-founders of iamproperty Group
Disrupting an industry and solving problems with tech has been a vision for these co-founders.
Award winning iamproperty Group was founded in 2009, with a clear vision to modernise the property market with innovative, tech-enabled solutions. From its market leading auction service, iamsold, to the UK’s first end-to-end onboarding and sales progression platform, movebutler, the Group works with over 3,500 Partner Agents across its network to drive speed, security, and compliance within the industry through its products and services.
Co-founders Ben and Jamie share their secrets of success with Business Matters …
What products or services do you provide?
Our mission is to modernise the property market and we’ve worked hard since the business was founded in 2009 to make big changes in our industry. Our digital solutions and services work together to add real value to Estate Agents and their customers by delivering speed, security and transparency to all methods of residential property sales, modernising the market to benefit everyone.
We are the UK’s largest property auctioneer and market leader in online auctions, having pioneered the Modern Method of Auction in 2009 to bring much needed speed and security to property transactions, meaning faster timescales and higher completion rates, and offer consumers more choice in methods of sale, aligned to their circumstances. We have just enjoyed our best year to date for our auction services in what was an extraordinary year for the industry.
In 2020 we also launched an industry first Private Treaty solution, iamproperty movebutler, which is the UK’s only end-to-end onboarding and sales progression platform. The platform helps agents to save time and generate revenue and gives consumers a swifter and more seamless experience through access to more information up front, increased transparency throughout their transaction and access to essential moving services at a time that’s right for them.
What type of businesses do you work with?
We work with forward thinking Estate Agents across the UK, with over 3,500 agency branches in our Partner Network.
Our network has grown year-on-year as more and more agents want to take advantage of our growing range of products and services and offer their clients more choice by adding auction services to their portfolio, this is backed by increasing consumer demand and people seeking the right method of sale for their circumstances. Our solutions are created with Estate Agents at the heart, helping them to win new instructions, stay ahead of market drivers and satisfy growing consumer demands.
What problem does your company solve?
The industry is tired of continuously having to ask the same questions over and over in the property transaction process, the process is slow and disjointed with lots of duplication and many antiquated processes.
We have a team of almost 300 people cross the UK, so it’s not just about technology, our people are what makes us special. We take the time to really understand what’s driving agents and their pain points so that we can support them in the right way, seamlessly partnering our digital solutions with our expertise and commitment to service excellence. We solve problems by joining more parts of the process together, by making more information available up front and creating quicker and more secure journeys for buyers and sellers. For us it’s about looking at the process as a whole and working out how we can help agents to offer more services, save time, make money, stay compliant and delight their clients.
For consumers, buying a house isn’t always an enjoyable experience, it takes a financial and emotional toll, and we want to help make the experience better. Whether that’s through more choice or by removing duplication, reducing delays, and providing better communications platforms, that let them feel more in control.
What is your USP?
We go first, we were the pioneers of Modern Method Auction in the UK and have continued to innovate to bring industry first services and solutions to the market. We’ll always keep trying to solve problems and make a positive impact in our sector.
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so, how have you dealt with it?
Our values have been the same since we founded the business, they are our foundations, they drive our decisions and are a big part of how we build our team. Our values are to be pioneering, collaborative, effective and customer focused. It’s important to us that everyone in the business understands our values and embraces them. We want our whole team to feel supported when it comes to being innovative, focused on achieving great things for their customers and with their teammates and to work together to develop solutions that will change the industry.
We’ve always been really focused on building a great culture, and no matter how big the business gets that will always be front and centre. As founders we’ve always been accessible and right there as part of the team, but during the last 18 months we’ve spent even more time with our team. Listening and learning and keeping them informed as we moved through the pandemic. We had to lead on that continued communication throughout and made ourselves more accessible to the team than ever, prioritising honesty and talking about where we were getting it right, celebrating the successes and putting our teams wellbeing at the heart of that. It kept our culture alive even when the whole team were remote working and that feels like a huge achievement and something we’ll always focus on. We have grown a lot in the last year, brought in a lot of new people, developed and launched new products and it’s our team that make that all happen and we’re incredibly proud.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
Absolutely. We now offer hybrid working to everyone, and it’s up to them to choose what works best for them. Because of our type of business, we are we still find that a lot of people want to be in the office, it’s our hub and there is lots of collaboration. We also have a lot of people in the team working all over the UK remotely and in smaller teams and so for us it’s about supporting the way our team want to work and making sure there are options to suit everyone as we continue to grow.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
At the beginning of our journey, we took a leap of faith and took loans totalling of around £10,000 from family and friends to get going, which included a £5,000 investment from a university friend. This may have been considered risky, but the timing was right, and the market was ripe. Within 12 weeks of starting from our living room, we had made a profit.
I think the advice we would give is to have a clear business structure, with contingency plans. If you do take a loan, don’t get in over your head. Don’t think of your money as certain, the market can change quickly and ruthlessly. However, I would always say to take calculated risks, it makes the rewards much sweeter.
If you have passion, find the determination to succeed. It was in no way an easy journey, but with drive and an appetite for success, we have made our vision a reality.
Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
We want to keep making big changes in our industry. We’ve celebrated some amazing successes over the years and we’re incredibly proud of everything our team have achieved. Not just for our business, but for our Partner Agents who share in our success, we’ve paid record fees to our agents this year and it’s a testament to the relationships the team builds and their passion to do a great job. We have big plans so watch this space.