Teenager who set up £12m estate agency… while still in the sixth form! Entrepreneur is already worth millions after selling houses during his lunch break
- Akshay Ruparelia, 19, wants to put traditional estate agents out of business
- As they charge thousands in commission, he says he can sell a house for £99
- In his firm’s early days, he hired call centre staff to answer his switchboard
- The entrepreneur would then call clients back on his lunch or after school
Most teenagers of his age spend their school lunch breaks playing football or chatting to girls.
But Akshay Ruparelia used every spare moment to sell houses.
The young entrepreneur – nicknamed Alan Sugar by his friends – set up an online estate agency while still at sixth form.
The teenager started his business after persuading family members to lend him £7,000 and already employs 12 people
And his clever business model has been such a hit that his company doorsteps.co.uk has been valued at £12 million in just over a year.
Now aged 19, Akshay has had to put plans of studying economics and management at Oxford University on hold because the firm he set up at school is expanding so rapidly.
In the early days he hired a call centre service to answer his company switchboard while he was in class and rang clients back after the school bell rang.
The website resulted in Akshay’s friends nicknaming him Alan Sugar after the star of The Apprentice
The confident teenager is now on a mission to put traditional High Street estate agents out of business because they charge thousands of pounds in commission to sell a house and he can do it for just £99.
His idea is proving so popular that this week Akshay’s company became the 18th biggest estate agency in the UK – just 16 months after his website went live.
The firm, which he started after persuading family members to loan him £7,000, already employs 12 people and is growing rapidly.
He recently raised £400,000 from investors on a crowd funding enterprise website in exchange for 3.25 per cent of his business. With the teenager and an uncle owning the remaining shares he is theoretically already worth millions.
The company pride themselves on low fees and good customer service.
It is recruiting an ever expanding network of mothers across the UK, who work on a self-employed basis showing clients around properties he has been asked to sell. They are already operating from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands.
Akshay hopes to put traditional high street estate agents out of business by selling people’s houses for a fee of £99, undercutting those who charge thousands in commission
‘I want to rip up the old-style way we sell homes in this country,’ said Akshay, who set up the business between lessons at Queen Elizabeth High School in Barnet, London, and still managed to get five A’Levels, three at A* and two A grades in maths, economics, politics, history and financial studies.
‘I soon realised people have had enough of being ripped off by High Street agents in flash suits and cars charging them a fortune, but actually doing not a lot to sell their home,’ he added.
‘Why give an estate agent a small fortune just for putting photos of your house on the internet?
‘Mums know a thing or two don’t they and quite rightly people trust mums. Every mum who works for me will be honest and tell the truth. That’s so important because for the vast majority of people selling their home is the biggest financial transaction of their lives.’
ounder of Doorsteps.co.uk Akshay says he was inspired to set up his business while reading a biography of budget airline boss Michael O’Leary
Akshay says his ‘lightbulb’ moment came while studying for his financial studies exams when he read a biography of Ryanair founder Michael O’Leary.
‘Mr O’Leary began by selling flights for just £4.99 and his point was that if you can offer customers something at a price they just can’t believe and you deliver what you say you will, you hook people in and your business will work,’ said Akshay, who still lives with his parents in Harrow Weald, London.
‘So I took that same logic and applied it to estate agency. Research showed some online estate agencies were still charging homeowners between £800 and £1,000. I knew I could do it for a fraction of that.’
After setting up the website his paid his sister’s boyfriend to drive him to Sussex to take photographs of his first client’s home.
‘I hadn’t passed my driving test and didn’t have a car. It was a five bedroom place with a swimming pool! I put the house on at £485,000 and the land for £185,000 on top, I’d sold it within three weeks.
The young entrepreneur says his website has already sold £100million worth of homes and its success has meant him delaying his university career
‘I was standing in the school playground and got an e-mail on my mobile from the vendor to say he’d accepted the combined £670,000 offer I’d got for him and that I was a “legend, an absolute star”. That was a sensational moment, the vendor was chuffed, I was just thrilled.
‘I’d proved what I said I’d do, I’d sold a house for £99, but I couldn’t go out and celebrate, I had to go home and revise for my exams. I got a Domino’s pizza in as a treat.’
Akshay says doorsteps.co.uk has sold £100m worth of homes and it currently has more than 1,000 properties for sale on the website.
Despite the success he is yet to cash-in personally.
He said: ‘At first I paid myself £500 a month, things are going quite well now so I’ve upped that to £1,000 a month. I’ve passed my driving test, but still don’t own a car, the insurance is so expensive. At the moment everything apart from my salary is being re-invested into the firm.’
His father Kaushik, 57, is a care worker and also does shifts in a Royal Mail sorting office to make ends meet and mother Renuka, 51, is a teaching assistant for deaf children. Money has always been tight in the family, but not for much longer it seems.
He said: ‘Of course my parents are very proud of what I’ve now achieved, but I lie in bed some nights and can barely believe it.’