Estate agency industry disruptor Nested’s just had it full media launch, but its founding team and investors include a list of entrepreneurial luminaries; they’re backed by Passion Capital and Google Ventures partner Tom Hulme, and founder Matt Robinson launched GoCardless.
We talked to Robinson to find out how they want to change the way we buy houses and why sometimes your development process isn’t as lean as you think.
1. What is your investment status?
Nested has already raised £3m from some of Europe’s most successful entrepreneurs and investors, including Passion Capital, Indeed founder Paul Forster, and self-made billionaire brothers Oliver and Alex Samwer.
2. Describe your business in one paragraph; what’s its vision and what problem does it solve?
Nested is an online service that aims to help homeowners sell their houses at a time when it has never been harder to sell a property in this country. We offer to sell a house within 90 days or lend the seller the money for their next house purchase interest-free. The aim is to bring liquidity to the market and to remove the stress, cost and time out of selling a home. Our goal is to revolutionise the way houses are sold.
3. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The idea originated from our own experiences. We hated the fact that a chain buyer might see their dream property and either miss out or end up having to pay over the odds to secure it ahead of cash or first-time buyers.
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Similarly, we heard stories of people who needed to sell quickly having to sell at below the fair market value, and we felt like something could be done. Nested was the solution we came up with: a service that allows sellers to get a guaranteed fair offer from day one without having to compromise on their final sale price.
4. What’s your addressable market?
UK estate agency fees alone are £5bn per year and we believe this product is transformative for roughly one in five home sellers, so there is a multi-billion-pound business to be built here.
The kind of people we want to help are those in a chain and likely to miss out on a property they want to a buyer in a stronger position or have to increase their offer; or people who need to move on a particular timeline whether that be for a positive reason like a new job or a new baby, or a negative reason like death, divorce or distress.
In either situation, we allow them to sell their home quickly without compromising on price, so they can focus on the things that matter in life.
5. What’s great about your team and do you have a mentor?
We believe this product is transformative for roughly one in five home sellers, so there is a multi-billion-pound business to be built here.
We have a fantastic team on board, with experience of building successful technology companies. I co-founded GoCardless and still sit on the board of the company; Phil our CTO was previously CTO of Songkick and has a PhD in Machine Learning from the University of Cambridge; and James Turford, our COO, trained as an architect at Aedas before moving to McKinsey & Co and then private equity firm PEP.
6. What key challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Finding a way to advance the money, so the customer can get it after 90 days without putting the money at risk. We came up with some cool, but very simple legal jiggery pokery.
7. How have you funded your startup and why did you choose this route?
We have already raised £3m from a variety of private investors and VCs, including: London-based seed fund Passion Capital; Tim Bunting, a partner at VC firm Balderton; Tom Hulme a partner at Google Ventures; Paul Forster, the founder of jobs website Indeed; and Germany’s billionaire Samwer brothers, founders of venture builder Rocket Internet.
We chose this route because the business is incredibly capital intensive plus we wanted to get a strong team of advisors who can help us build a big company.
8. How do you market your business and how successful has it been so far?
It’s been a combination of word of mouth, great contacts, and PR, including our media launch in September. We were being approached by homeowners looking to sell before we went live, which is a nice problem to have.
9. What are your plans for the future?
To roll out the Nested service nationwide. To grow the team, and ultimately to become one of the UK’s leading estate agents, having revolutionised the way that agents treat their clients, offering honest, impartial advice and giving a fantastic service.
10. If you started again, is there anything you would do differently?
Not bitten off quite so much with the first version and got the product launched sooner. You always think you’re practising lean development principles but somehow you never are!
11. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that are starting a business?
Give yourself time. It’s really hard and things take much longer than you expect so make sure you save up enough money to have at least 12 months of runway. Anything less than that and you could find yourself having to give up before you’ve ever really given things a fair go.