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Agent Provocateur: The thrills and spills of starting a new business

When you start something it’s exhausting, nerve wracking, exciting and frightening.

If you’re young it’s all of the above and probably involves someone else’s money, but when you’re not it’s double everything, and probably IS your own money.

There’s so much that’s new at the moment, and if one had the luxury of sitting back and watching, it would be fun but still something of a lottery.

For any start-up there’s the challenge of getting off the ground and on to the first step, and it would be fair to say that after nine months of blood and sweat, despite knowing we had something worthwhile, we are arguably on the first step – i.e. just off the floor.

Two funding rounds for Viewber have elicited far more than was envisaged and a real appetite to support something that many agree genuinely fills a service gap.

Resistance is to be expected, but my experience, and the reason it exists, was that people often despair at being forced to fit viewing times into an agent’s schedule – and increasingly that’s not acceptable – especially in such a fast-moving environment when a missed viewing is followed by a dozen properties in their morning inbox to distract them.

“Just try to get a weekend viewing….” I was told over and over and over again. I know, I’ve tried.

We’ve had some stern tests over the course of thousands of viewings, agents deliberately giving us remote locations to service, keeping a close eye on the quality of those we’re sending to do viewings, giving us shorter and shorter notice, early morning requests, etc.

Many have been from hardened agents, initially inured to change, where the possibilities were obvious but who were determined for it to not work for them. But so far it has.

It helps that the service is no longer an idea but is now an easy-to-use tool guaranteeing a service at the click of a mouse.

Many have their own arrangements, including part-time staff to help out, but for the very first time all agents everywhere have access to a huge network of sensible vetted locals via the sharing economy requiring no management input at all. This must surely a good thing from a service perspective even if only used for overflow.

Do I miss what I used to do? Yes, but the excitement of what I’m doing now has more than made up for it and as I sit here and write this, whoever wins the latest bit of political interference, in this case the General Election, isn’t going to liven up London property any time soon.

I’m expecting the usual negativity below, but I’d ask those with an alternative view to call me as I’m genuinely keen to provide what agents (and what I would have wanted when running an office) want – or even better, try it out and make your own judgement. You never know, you might like it.

BTW – congrats to Nick, Ros and everyone for their award, well deserved.

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