London: An Indian-origin teenager has become one of Britain’s youngest millionaires after his online estate agency business got valued at £12 million in just over a year.
Akshay Ruparelia, at just 19 years of age, juggled his 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 claims to have already sold £100 million worth of properties since he set up his business.
“I got the website up and running and after a couple of weeks a man in Sussex asked me to sell his home and a separate chunk of land he owned beside it. I had to pay my sister’s boyfriend £40 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 recalls.
The north London-based schoolboy was able to sell the property and land within three weeks, which set the ball rolling. He started his company with £7,000, borrowed from relatives and now employs 12 people.
In the initial stages of his business, he hired a call centre to answer calls coming in to his work 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 attributes the idea to set up a small business to reading the biography of no-frills airline Ryanair founder Michael O’Leary. “Mr O’Leary began by selling flights for just £4.99. 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 schoolboy is now well on his way to support his two deaf parents, who he says are very proud of him. His father, 57-year-old Kaushik, is a care worker and mother, 51-year-old Renuka, is a teaching assistant 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 a month from the profits, which he has increased to £1,000 a month and is saving up to buy his first car.