Startup Spotlight: Properly CEO, Anshul Ruparell, is Renovating the Housing Market by Putting Homeowners First
A full service company designed with clients in mind, Properly offers home buyers and sellers a one stop hub where they can list, sell and purchase property hassle free from the comfort of their home desktop or on the go with their smartphone.
With Toronto’s housing market on the rise, keeping up to date with the value of your home and the constantly fluctuating buying and selling patterns can be a full time occupation. CEO, Anshul Ruparell, created Properly with his partners Sheldon McCormick and Craig Dunk as a way to simplify the overwhelming process of acquiring a home.
We sat down with Ruparell to discuss how he approaches need based business ventures and what him and his team do to continue striving for growth, customer satisfaction and innovation.
Can you explain Properly for anyone who might not know? How does it operate?
Properly is a technology company that enables homeowners to buy any home in the market and to sell their current home to the rest of the population in one simple process.
With properly, you can get a free instant valuation on your current home. What we call our “Proper Price”; and you can sell hassle free to properly at that price. We then help you find your dream home… and since we go by your schedule you can avoid inconvenient staging and showings and combine up your closing dates to avoid overlapping mortgages or moving twice. As a company, we’re based in Toronto, but we have operations in both Calgary and Ottawa.
What would you say is the defining unique characteristic about your company that no one is doing? What’s your core potency and competitive advantage here?
I think it’s difficult to pick one thing because I’m building a company that is able to transform the experience of buying a home. The home requires some complexities and a couple of demands. The first is in data science and predictive modeling. And so we’ve built a machine learning model that can predict the price (the home) would sell for, with about 99% accuracy. And we then rely upon that to inform the price that we would purchased the home for…and so that’s a pretty powerful tool that we’ve created and that actually allows us to operate not just at the level we are today, but at scale across many cities.
Describe how it came together and why it came together, what was the moment where you decided you wanted to create a solution to a problem that you identified?
I think my co-founders and I came to realize through personal experience and familiarity with the industry that selling or buying a home is one of the most important milestones in your life. And yet for most people, this process is complicated and it’s time consuming and it’s stressful. You’ve got to perfectly time the person’s sale date. You have to manage two incredibly complicated and stressful processes and whether you’re in the buyer’s market or seller’s market this can feel all consuming and disruptive. And I began to realize that it just doesn’t have to be. That there’s an opportunity to take one of life’s most significant transactions or milestones and to make it empowering. So we decided to commit ourselves towards creating a company that would help people navigate this process in a way that, that delivers on those things.
For most people that own a home, it represents the majority of their net worth. It’s one of your most significant financial assets and understanding what it’s worth and being able to check your home value like you check your stock portfolio is a pretty powerful tool to provide people with.
How have you been able to stay nimble and agile in an industry that can be volatile, and so dynamic in the tech industry as well?
So there’s a couple of things that come to mind… the first one would be just trying to focus all of our energy and attention on our customers and on truly understanding what their needs are and making sure that we’re focusing our efforts on designing a solution that best meets those needs. And by designing and thinking with the customer, at the heart of everything that we do, it allows us to create solutions that tend to have strong initial traction. We’re able to ignore the history of the existing industry and the things that people have done before because we’re less focused on what’s been done in the past and more focused on what we can do in the future to deliver an experience that our customers want.
When you were building your company, what were some of the biggest challenges and roadblocks that you experienced in your entrepreneurial journey?
Some people have characterized there being a distinction between the lean start up, those start with really basic products and have all the capabilities and they’re not a fatter startup that requires a broader set of initial capabilities just to get off the ground. In the case of our business, we had to have a pretty significant amount of capital available from day one in order to be in a position to actually buy these homes. They needed to have a product that has set a predicting model that allowed us to predict a home’s pricing so that we could provide both the consultant solution to our customers but also not lose a lot of money to if we were to get those predictions wrong.
And then we needed to have the local operational capabilities to manage. A really complicated and intensive process beginning to end, selling a home, has more than 150 steps involved in it with up to 10 or 15 third parties. And so if you’re a homeowner going through that process, obviously that’s quite difficult to manage. And if you’re a company like us trying to manage that at scale, we need to have our systems and processes very well designed and established at a very early stage. And so I think that getting all those things up and running from day one, was quite difficult to do. And I think our ability to do so is what’s allowed us to cement an advantage in this that nobody else has.
What questions do you think all entrepreneurs, business owners, people in leadership should ask themselves before building a company?
I think that there’s a set of questions that any successful entrepreneur will have himself before starting a company. Um, and the first is, am I solving an actual problem that people have? And so if you’re solving an actual problem in a big market and have a strong team, then there’s a very high degree of likelihood that you’ll eventually find your way into some version of your product or service that will, that will resonate strongly and allow you to grow and scale the company.
How do you measure success overall? On a micro level, what are some specific KPIs that you track to measure that success?
Really there’s a couple of things,
Number one is how satisfied are our customers? At properly it’s our Net Promoter Score. It’s the fact that we take a measure of how likely our customers are to refer their friends and family members to us. And our NPS is about 93% today, which compares to companies like Amazon and Costco that are in the 40s and 50s and 60s. I think it’s just an indication of the level of value that Properly is providing our customers.
The second is, are we growing profitably as a company? And so we look at how many homes or customers are we interacting with and what’s the total net dollar revenue announced that we’re transacting at any point in time.
And then the third is are we building the right team and is our team fulfilled at work. And so we look at our employee engagement and satisfaction scores to make sure that we’re not just in pursuit of a successful outcome, but that we’re creating a company that is enabling people to be the best version of themselves
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned about yourself from your journey as an entrepreneur?
I think the one thing that I’ve come to realize is that when I reflect back on all the best moments of the last couple of years and build them properly, the things that come first to mind aren’t the, you know, accolades in the press or the revenue growth we generate, but it’s almost always examples of people that we’ve been able to impact. And those are our customers that might be going through a really difficult situation in their life, and we’re able to alleviate some of that stress by taking away the work associated with this…
It’s (also) the impact that we’re having on the lives of our team members. They’re getting a chance to grow as leaders and as individuals and to contribute to something bigger than themselves.