Interview With Rajdeep Dosanjh
Describe your product or service:
“Lead generation platform for [real] estate agents.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“[We] provide our agents with quality leads, enabling them to expand their business and revenue.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“Self-funded based on a previous career in investment banking.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“I am the sole founder; we have a team of four consisting of operations, marketing, and finance.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I always wanted to start my own business from an early age. After graduating at the peak of the financial crisis, I managed to secure a role at Deutsche Bank. At the time, it was a no-brainer. Throughout my 12 years in the industry, I created a few side businesses that unfortunately did not take off due to timing and a lack of time. Fortunately, my latest side business Rentround has taken off, and I was able to exit the banking industry. I always wanted my own business due to the fact I never really enjoyed the 9-5 world. I knew that if I didn't succeed in creating my own business, I'd be working until retirement age in an industry I didn't enjoy.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“I was actually looking for a letting agent/property manager for my own properties. I found the task cumbersome and confusing. This gave me the spark I needed. I created a quick prototype of the platform to see if there would be any interest, and there quickly was. I was providing landlords a solution to compare agents and [providing] agents a new source of leads. As the momentum gathered, I then threw more funding on the platform, and it's been growing ever since.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“As I wanted to keep the initial spend[ing] low, I was looking for any domain with the word 'rent' included. Most good ones were taken or very expensive to buy. I thought Rentround had a nice ring to it. However, I have kind of shot myself in the foot with the name as we've since expanded Rentround to comparing selling agents. But it doesn't seem to be causing an issue for the growth of that stream.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“The greatest challenge was doing my 9-5 and starting Rentround simultaneously. I'd get queries from agents about Rentround, but I'd be unable to answer them until after my day job commitments. That hampered progress significantly in the early days.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“The service is made for firstly landlords and sellers looking for their ideal agent. However, the revenue comes from agents, who pay a fee to be featured on the platform, with the objective of getting leads to grow their business.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“The strategy is focused on PPC to ensure we get enough sellers & landlords using the platform to satisfy agent demand. Simultaneously, we've had an aggressive SEO strategy to build organic visitors and agent sign-ups. 30% of our leads are now obtained organically through search traffic.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“The initial outreach was done manually, cold calling agents. This provided little success. Purchases [via] email lists also fell flat due to low response rates. By far the best method to obtain the first 100 customers was through influencers and bloggers talking about Rentround. I'd offer cash incentives as well as free research to be featured in certain articles and posts.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“For Rentround, the fundamental metric is Target Cost Per Acquisition. We must be able to obtain leads at a certain price to ensure we make a profit from our agent subscriptions. A close second is our monthly lead volume. There is high agent demand for our leads, and we need to hit certain monthly quotas to ensure agents hit their own growth targets. Keeping costs per lead targets while trying to grow volumes is an ongoing challenge.”
What's your favorite entrepreneurial book and podcast?
“‘The Real Deal: My Story from Brick Lane to Dragons' Den’ [by] James Caan is a book that I really enjoyed and took a lot of tips from. It talks about his early days and how he created multiple businesses from scratch.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?
“I have learned to actually enjoy the journey. I initially wanted Rentround to pay my mortgage. Once that was achieved, I had financial targets, which now appear to increase every few months as the last target is accomplished. Although this mindset creates growth, it does cause stress levels when revenues or profits see decreases. It's important to take a step back and look at what's been created and how the company has changed over two years.”
Who is your support system?
“I am close with two other entrepreneurs that have their own online businesses. We bounce ideas off of each other regularly as well as create new business together which are now in the pipeline.”
How do you stay motivated?
“I always think back to how I didn't enjoy my 9-5 role; the tasks, the long commute, the environment. Don't get me wrong, I was grateful for my career, [and] I met some great people and learned a great deal, but it just wasn't me. I think back to those days, and it helps me appreciate my business and push me to continue its growth.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Making something happen is key. In some periods, the business can seem very quiet apart from admin tasks. During these periods, you need to make something happen. Whether it be creating a new piece of research, checking in with agents, or developing a new stream for the business, during quiet periods, it's easy to rest — but I see these as the times to try out new things.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“The work-life balance I've created [for] myself. I set myself a minimum number of hours to work a day, however, around my own schedule. I may start later and finish late, but most days, it's on my own schedule. There are of course days when things happen where I'm at my desk for 15 hours, but these are few and far between.”
More on Rentround
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Rajdeep Dosanjh of real estate startup Rentround that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.