Cofounder of Renti
Who Are You?
I’m Simon Julian, from Melbourne in Australia, mainly from my study at the moment because we’re still in lockdown, strange times! My business is https://www.Renti.co, a startup across Australia and New Zealand focused on solving the inefficiencies and difficulties around the end-to-end tenanting lifecycle for rental properties.
What’s the Story of Your Business?
Renti started in New Zealand, with insights borne out of another business that Russell and Claudia (co-founders) own and run (https://www.moovme.co.nz/) that deals with the connections side of moving house. We focus on both the tenant experience and also property management, with our main focus in the first phase of the business being improving the property management experience overall.
In practice this means building tools and services for property managers to make the process of finding, checking (ID, credit, references etc), choosing and then signing up a tenant faster, more efficient, less costly and more auditable, understanding their main pain points and assisting in solving them. This can mean some interesting marriages of tech and process (we have built some really nice OCR tech to allow us to do things like OCR’ing written tenancy applications, since one of the things that property managers do in a lot of cases is stick with written forms over online forms) – the ‘tech led’ approach would have been to try to replace the written forms with online-only (which we offer of course) – however, this would not have fit with current process and would have significantly lowered takeup – everything is a journey, try to remember that people need to come along with you for the ride!
What Has Been Your Biggest Struggle?
Lately this is an interesting question to be asking. For Renti, multiple lockdowns across Australia and New Zealand have meant that we’ve needed to be very smart on the way that we have approached business and very focused on growth and on where we could be the most effective. Lockdowns mean people don’t move, people not moving means property management agencies temporarily halt business etc.
Luckily because we’re across two countries and the lockdowns haven’t been full-time we’ve been able to continue to win business and grow in the meantime, mainly thanks to a very dedicated team and a product that people see the value in even in the midst of interesting times!
What Has Been Your Greatest Achievement?
Always a difficult question to answer. I don’t really think that you have one defining moment as far as achievement goes – there are many small achievements that build on each other over time to get you to a moment that looks like it defines you, but I think you’re far more heavily defined by the way you handle things along the way.
My biggest achievements are always in the teams I help create, the people I work with and how they grow and change over time and hopefully the positive effects I can have on people…I like to think that on balance I’ve come out way ahead as far as positive over negative in my career, that’s a big achievement!
Where Do You See Yourself and Your Business in 5 Years
There are huge international opportunities for a company like Renti as the issues people face in renting and managing property are similar the world over – Renti is already an international business and we’d love to see that continue and grow over time, more offices in more countries, more partnerships, more problems solved and better overall experience for those involved in the end to end tenanting process – that’s a big goal but a hugely rewarding one if we can get there as well.
As far as exit strategy, much too early in the game to think about that. If we do the right things with the product and business and add anywhere near what we want to as far as users and property management firms across Australia and New Zealand that would make us an excellent target for acquisition – I do think it can be good not to get too caught up on that too early though.
It’s always best to solve the user problem before you solve the acquisition problem…if you can get a big number of happy users and good growth metrics the exit should solve itself!
What Do You Wish You’d Known Before You Started?
Hundreds of things! No matter what you think you know before you start a new venture in a parallel space, you never know enough. On that one the advice I come back to is always test your assumptions against real users…they know what they want and the more actual customer engagement and feedback you can get on your product the better off you’ll be in the long-term.
Finally, Tell Us Something Interesting About Yourself?
Years ago I worked on a business so hard and for so long that I gave myself something called Hashimoto’s disease, which is an underactive thyroid.
It basically slows the release of hormones that regulate energy, brain function and lots of other fun stuff like that. When I finally found out that I had it, I had been energyless, vague and off my game for at least a year or more – it is crazy how you don’t notice something like that for so long if you’re in the midst of it. Suffice to say if you know it is there it is very fixable, I take a thyroid hormone daily to sort out the level and basically all is well). Moral of the story is work hard but also work smart and listen to what your body is telling you…no business is worth wrecking your health for!