Real estate disruption
Real Funds is a fast growing financial technology startup. A property development peer-to-peer lending platform providing alternative finance to small and medium-sized house builders. Through Real Funds’ platform you can invest as little as £10.
Founder Arya Taware shares:
In 2013, I worked for a small developer. We would go around seeking development opportunities but could hardly get finance to build the proposed housing schemes. Banks are reluctant to fund small-scale projects and would only back major house builders and big projects above £10 million. With the rise of fintech I saw an opportunity to fill this gap in the market by making alternative finance available to small and medium-sized house builders through a combination of crowd-financing and technology. For the past year and a half, I have been developing Real Funds, working on the business model, meeting with industry experts and building the team.
People make or break a company. I spent a lot of time approaching industry experts on LinkedIn, and meeting them to share my idea. The initial stages were challenging: you have to imagine a young entrepreneur venturing into an industry of established businessmen, very traditional in many ways, where deals are still agreed upon in pubs; and here I am telling them about a platform that will drastically transform the way property development is financed.
I believe gender does not affect being an entrepreneur overall. But when it comes to the real estate and construction industries, it is true that they are very much male-dominated. Being a woman breaking into these industries is definitely unconventional, but since Real Funds is itself unconventional, I see it as an asset.
Very early on, I knew our business would need a combination of senior property experts and young tech-savvy entrepreneurs. At this stage, half of our team is made of the latter, and half is senior talent. We are currently recruiting three more team members: a CFO, a Property Head of Investments and a Due Diligence Officer.
We are closing a £1million seed round. This investment will enable us to be Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)-regulated, and finalise our peer-to-peer lending platform. We are gearing toward launch at the beginning of 2016.
I do strongly believe that more women can be encouraged to work in the construction and fintech industries as a diverse workforce creates innovation. The CEO of Lux Reality Marta de Sousa collaborated with other industry experts on the Built by Her campaign, encouraging women to work in construction.
If more people recognise and support these campaigns, it will create a more productive industry.
My background in urban planning inspired me to see the impact mankind can have on our surroundings. My dream would be to reconnect people with their surroundings by providing them a way to directly influence how cities are designed as well as financed. I imagine a future where everyone will have the possibility to decide and fund projects in their local communities, making cities financially self-sustainable and less dependent on foreign capital.
I am also very excited to promote models of shared ownership and would like to introduce this in future development plans.