Startup Diary from the UK: I Never Look Back on Corporate Life
Roshni Assomull, co-founder of Stumble Abode, describes how she left the corporate world for a more entrepreneurial path
It all started about a year ago when I started thinking about investing my savings in property. I’ve had this stubborn idea in my head about always wanting to be a landlady. After college I set myself two goals to reach by the age of 25: I wanted to have a property in my own name and be earning a six-figure salary. Two years after graduation, my aspirations have somewhat changed.
I used to work in investment banking. I got the job straight out of college, having done the internship the summer before, and thought that I was set. I felt like the perfect career path was ahead of me, that I’d climb the corporate ladder and would soon be having power lunches in my power suit. A few months into the job I realised how wrong I had been. I was working like a crazy person and was starting to become one too. I hardly slept or ate and was constantly moody.
My personal life started to fall apart and the last adjective that I thought suited my life was ‘successful’.
Others coped better than I did; perhaps I had unrealistic expectations of work life. I hated that I never felt inspired and started to look for something that could satisfy this need of mine.
The idea for the website came to me as a prospective first time buyer, eager and ready to leap onto the property ladder. Sadly, despite my enthusiasm, I encountered a several difficulties in finding my perfect home. Working at a bank, my free time was limited so viewings were a nightmare to schedule. I remember one phone conversation with a particularly pesky agent trying to convince me that he worked late...until I told him what time I finished work. That shut him up quite quickly. Already nervous about the amount of money I would be parting with for the down payment (99% of my savings), I felt very uncomfortable being pressured to ‘Buy, buy, buy’ by a man I'd just met, who had spent all of 5 minutes showing me around the 300sq ft studio I was looking at.
Back at the office, thinking whether the investment would be a good idea or not, I saw several of my colleagues splitting their screens between Excel and estate agent websites. I started to notice many of them whining about agents too, the frequency at which they moved due to fallouts with roommates, girlfriends etc. and the struggles they had in scheduling viewings themselves. At a pub one day, I casually mentioned the idea to a friend who happened to have great tech skills, and Stumble Abode (www.stumbleabode.com) was thus created. Our site puts private sellers and landlords directly in touch with renters and buyers, bypassing the need for estate agents and their extortionate fees.
At first it was just a side project, I never thought I was capable of making this full-time job.
I knew I wanted to leave banking and was obsessed with this notion of being inspired, so I started to apply to jobs at companies whose startup stories I loved.
I applied to Net-a-Porter, Google and Asos but unfortunately they thought I lacked adequate experience. After one final rejection, I decided that perhaps it was a ‘sign’ that I should dedicate my time to Stumble Abode and maybe start my own amazing startup story.
Over the past few months we’ve worked to create something that addresses all the problems we encountered while on our property search. It's a daunting task, taking on the London property market, but we know we’re doing something worthwhile. We decided thatStumble Abode should be about bringing a more human aspect to property searching. Our philosophy is ‘making property personal again’. We want people to get to know whom their buying or renting from and we want people to get involved with their community and be proud of their neighborhood.
We’re working on developing integrated partnerships with local homeless and shelter building charities across the world to implement our cause.
Finding shelter is a universal need – for some of us it means the quest for our perfect home, but for others it simply means locating a dry place to rest their head. Our site gives you the opportunity to combine property and philanthropy. The first two months have been more of a testing period to see how the public interacted with our site. We are now building various features to really incorporate our community message. When a user creates a property listing they will have the opportunity to either list for free or select one of our donation options. Each option will correspond to a specific benefit for the homeless and will earn them a ‘medal’ on their listing to show their generous donation. Different levels of medals will also earn the user added perks on the website – a featured listing, additional photos, etc. We’re hoping that this gameified version of donating will help users both engage with the site and their community.
I’m so glad I made the decision to do this. I haven’t looked back on banking once.
Some days I have no idea what I’m doing and I freak out as to whether I’m doing the right thing but I finally have that inspired feeling that I longed for.
It’s not easy, not at all, but I can’t stress enough how much it’s worth it.
Roshni Assomull is the Co-Founder & CEO of Stumble Abode. Tired of constantly shuffling her weekend plans for viewings and being inundated with emails from agents, Roshni decided she wanted to create a place where you could speak to sellers directly and view a property without the fear of being harassed thereafter. Thus Stumble Abode was born. Roshni has a degree in Economics from Brown University and formerly worked in Investment Banking at Citigroup.
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