- Akshay Ruparelia is the 19-year-old managing director of online estate agent Doorsteps He sold his first house while doing his A-levels The company is now valued at £12 million after only one year
Akshay Ruparelia from Harrow, North East London is a regular 19-year-old who completed his A levels last year at Queen Elizabeth’s boys’ grammar school in Barnet.
He’s also the millionaire managing director of online estate agent Doorsteps.co.uk, the “Uber” of the property world which was recently valued at £12 million after doing business for just over a year.
Ruparelia told Business Insider: “The commission estate agents in Britain charge is just unfair.” So he came up with an idea to provide good customer service at a fair price to people who are selling their homes.
Instead of the average 2-3% commission most property agents apply to a sale – which on an average London property equates to about £10,000, according to Ruparelia – Doorsteps charges just £99.
Ruparelia set the Doorsteps site live just over a year ago, and in a recent funding round it was valued at £12 million. He raised almost £400,000 ($530,000) with around 500 investors via Crowdcubein return for just over 3% of his business.
He sold his first house – a five-bedroom detached house with a swimming pool – while he was taking his A levels.
“It was an unexpected customer from East Sussex who had stumbled across our site. I went and took photos, and sold it for half a million pounds within three weeks, and he paid me £99. It proved our model works.”
Ruparelia told Business Insider that as he didn’t have a driving license or car at the time he had to ask his sister’s boyfriend Prash Thakrar to drive him to the house to take photos, and paid him £40 for his trouble. “I took it straight from the two £99 packages we earned through that seller,” he said.
He recalled getting the email saying that his seller had accepted the offer while on break in the playground at school. “He was a great, down-to-earth vendor and took a leap of faith when I explained it,” he said. “I saw the email and was overjoyed by the fact I had proved our concept and mission. He spread the word and it started growing slowly from there.”
The owner also decided to sell land next to the house through Doorsteps, which resulted in the company selling £650,000 worth of property for him in total.
But instead of going out celebrating, Ruparelia had exams to revise for. He eventually gained an A* in Maths, an A* in Economics, an A in History, A* in Politics, and an A in IFS.
So far, the business has taken on 1,500 homes and sold £120 million worth of property, saving customers over £1 million in fees in just over a year, according to Ruparelia, who said he found the inspiration for Doorsteps after reading Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s autobiography.
“Michael had a fantastic aim and mission of ‘delivering a product at an unbelievable price. Show people it works, and is real.’
“We’ve taken this and are trying to extend it beyond and become the best customer service agents too. We are already in the running for that, by industry leading reviews sites.”
On Trustpilot, Doorsteps already has over 200 reviews and a rating of 9.5.
Ruparelia added that spending much of his life as a young carer to his parents, who are both deaf but who handle two jobs each, has motivated him. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and ambition, whether it was selling sweets at school when I was 12 or 13, or something else,” he said.
“Being a young carer along with my sister gave me more responsibility at a younger age, which meant I developed resilience and maturity. It helped with my personal development and I learned to take risks.”
Doorsteps’ average sale time is 20 days, versus the nation’s 57, according to Ruparelia. But he concedes this shorter time scale is partially down to the areas in which he sells most homes.
So far Doorsteps’ bread and butter has been clusters of properties outside London, in cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.
“We’ve had good coverage in those kinds of cities, selling for example a three-bed terraced house in Liverpool, where property prices are a lot lower and the markets more buoyant. Word of mouth has been really strong for us.”
Here’s an example of one of Doorsteps’ properties:
However, the company also has some homes worth millions of pounds on his books, from £2 million pound flats in Notting Hill to a “humongous house in Torquay, Devon.”
The most expensive property he has sold to date was for £1.5 million.
This Old Street penthouse is on sale through Doorsteps for just under £2 million…
…And here’s another in West London. If sold, the owner will still pay Doorsteps just £99 in commission.
Ruparelia said he now works between nine and 11 hours in the office a day, and about three from home each day, seven days a week. He pays himself a flat rate of £1,000 per month.
In addition to his Harrow-based office of seven employees, Ruparelia employs around 15-20 “local agents” – who are also all mums – on a freelance basis to show around prospective buyers.
Ruparelia said that eventually he hopes to do some travelling and study economics at university.
For now, he’s focused on his business in the short-term. Doorsteps currently claims to be the 18th largest estate agent in Britain, and he said he aims to make this number one in the not-so distant-future.
“I’m going to keep a laser-sharp focus so that we can really boost sales growth and continue to deliver our mission of the best customer service at a great price,” he said.