Starting young – student launches PropTech platform for investors

30 September 2020 | Investment

A 20-year old university student has founded a PropTech startup which aims to improve the investment process for property investors.

Below, Property Investor Today carries out a Q&A with Miles McAuliffe – a Biomedical Engineering student at Aston University – to find out why he established Directly Sourced.

What is Directly Sourced and how old were you when you started it?

Directly Sourced is an online platform to provide investors across the UK (and across the world in the near future) access to a range of secured and vetted property investments in the UK from estate agents, property sourcers and private sellers/landlords.

Starting young – student launches PropTech platform for investors

The platform has been developed to make the process of finding vetted property investments more efficient, accessible and secure than anywhere else. Alongside the search portal functionality, all users have their own profile, creating a collaborative environment. We like to see ourselves as Rightmove + LinkedIn, but specifically for property investment. 

I started Directly Sourced in the spring of 2019, while I was 19 years old.

Why did you decide to establish it?

I’ve always had a huge interest in property investment, and property as a whole. Early last year, I began researching more into property investment, and realised there was huge lack of innovation in this industry compared to the finance industry, for example.

I then began brainstorming and came to the idea of creating a networking and advertising platform for property investment. It was all well and good me thinking this was a great idea, but I needed some market validation.

Starting young – student launches PropTech platform for investors

I arranged a number of calls and meetings (pre-Covid), with investors, estate agents and property sourcers across Birmingham and Milton Keynes, where I live when I’m not at university. They loved the idea. I got to work, and through a family friend was able to get help from a web developer, and small tech team, who developed the platform to where it is today.

What does it offer property investors? And what makes it stand out from other property platforms?

Property investors have access to the following features:

  • Access to vetted and secured property investments, from multi-million pound developments to small rent to serviced accommodation units. There are properties to suit all investment strategies

  • Access to joint venture opportunities from other verified investors

  • Network with fully verified investors, landlords, sourcers and estate agents

  • Custom profile and personalised dashboard

  • Inbuilt secure messaging between all users

Our platform is the first of its kind in this industry in the sense we verify all of our users, including: ID checks, company checks, UK bank account number, etc. Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn don’t do this.

Secondly, as our users are all verified, this makes our site perfect for advertising for estate agents and property sourcers, as our users are already verified and are looking to invest. There are no window shoppers, as such.

The profile element is also a feature that separates us from other platforms. Giving all users their own profile helps to create a safe, regulated and collaborative environment.

For estate agents, property sourcers and private sellers, we also charge absolutely 0% commission on deals sold. We will only charge a cancel anytime, small membership fee for our site. 

Have you been approved by regulatory bodies so you can reassure users that your platform is entirely safe?

We are registered with the ICO (legal requirement) and are looking into getting registered with the property ombudsman, too (not essential, more for reassurance). We have a great set of T&C’s and a privacy policy which clearly explains how we operate and how we process user information, too.

Starting young – student launches PropTech platform for investors

We did look at FCA regulation, however the property investment industry as a whole, even more so as an online platform, makes it very hard to get FCA regulated. We do, however, ask for proof of FCA regulation for larger developments listed on the site, where more than one investor will invest in the project.

All estate agents and property sourcers are required to present the required legal documents, e.g. TPO, AML, ICO, company details, etc, to become a member on the platform.

What is your mission statement or main goal? And where do you see Directly Sourced being in five years?

Our mission is to create the new standard for property investment and to ultimately be “The platform for property investment”. 

We have three main values at Directly Sourced: Innovative, Supportive, Collaborative. In the next five years, we want to have a user base of 250,000-plus investors across the world, with estate agents and brokers also based worldwide.

We want to have begun incorporating blockchain into the platform to make the exchange of documents far easier and safer. We’d love to get to the point where you can buy a property on Directly Sourced as easy as it is to buy a watch online. And we will continually innovate until we get there and beyond.

You can find out more here.

This post has originally been featured in Property Investor Today.