Entrepreneur Interview – David Tollemache

December 1, 2019

This month, we had the pleasure of getting to know David Tollemache, Founder and CEO of Helmsmen, a data-driven matching tool so you can find the best performing agent for the property you’re selling, letting or buying.

 

  1. Where did your inspiration come from to start Helmsmen?

There are 18,000 estate agents across the UK and they all claim to be the best. The countless letters, boards and calls I received, made for an overwhelming market and that is before the added confusion of the relatively new online models.

However, I knew from experience that there are a handful of great agents, who consistently achieved better results for their clients, but were being drowned out by the rest.

Helmsmen was created to empower these great agents to help them stand out from the crowd; impartially showing who will achieve the best result when selling or letting your home.

 

  1. What is unique about your business in the market?

We uniquely present performance information on each individual agent, so rather than just giving you stats on the company performance, we drill it down to the agent and you can see who you will actually be working with. This is important because agents move companies and bring their expertise with them. We have also seen a trend of agents performing well for certain types of property, so depending on your particular property details, our matching algorithm can be very specific about who will achieve the best result, even within the same office.

 

  1. What has been the hardest barrier to overcome whilst setting up the business?

Information is king and the estate agent industry has traditionally been structured towards the opaque. It has taken an unbelievable amount of work to break through this and compile the data we need.

On top of this, persuading estate agents to embrace this information publicly and build their online profiles was another major barrier. Fortunately, the good ones could see the benefit it would have to their business and we had a few well-known early adopters.

 

  1. What are the biggest trends you are seeing in the property market currently?

The property industry is finally being renovated. Property-technology companies received more investment than any startup sector last year, and that looks to be the same again in 2019 with over £10bn already committed. This is paving the way for a host of new products that will shape the way we transact property. Moving home is also said to be one of the most stressful moments in life and this trend will lead to a very positive outcome.

 

  1. What’s your background prior to setting up Helmsmen?

Straight out of university I joined the opening team for a 5-star country house hotel. An incredible experience transforming vision to reality and learning a huge amount on the job. I ended up staying there for 3 years before looking for a completely new challenge in property, where I worked in development and launched a property website dedicated to interior design and architecture, listing the most beautiful properties around the world.

 

  1. What are your hopes for the future of the business?

We’re aiming to be at the forefront of the property industry transformation. It is still very early stage for us, but we have now matched over £100m worth of property to the right estate agent. Residential property transactions were valued at £200bn in 2018 and we would like to facilitate as much of that decision making as possible.

 

  1. What advice would you give to any other entrepreneurs starting up their own business?

Finding and surrounding yourself with great people. I take heart from almost every business book I have read telling me mistakes are vital and the best way to learn, but having the right people advising and working with you will make all the difference.

 

Quick Fire Questions:

  1. What is something you could eat for a week straight? Sushi
  2. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be? Peter Thiel
  3. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Norway for the Northern Lights
  4. What is at the top of your bucket list? I have only seen 2 of the seven wonders of the world and I love travelling, so completing this (slightly unoriginal) list would be incredible.

For further information about Helmsmen please visit their website – https://helmsmen.co.uk/

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