What motivated you to launch a property management business?
Being able to start from scratch and solve a problem in the best way possible. We were particularly excited to work with nascent technology and unlock its full potential to improve service delivery in the industry.
Why focus on property management in Australia? Property management is a $5 billion sector in Australia alone but has seen little change in 50 years. The sector is based on stratified and inefficient practices; it’s ripe for improvement and a new service approach.
We also saw the poor service our family and friends received from property managers not to mention the unfair, ever escalating management fees, inconsistent service and ever changing managers and account handlers.
We designed :Different so it’s easy and efficient for everyone in the chain to use.
Peace of mind for owners and tenants is paramount.
What differentiates your service from other solutions? We’re simplifying property management.
Property management has a lot of operations overheads like compliance and reporting. Many things aren’t digitized or stored in a central place. Seamless transfers are hard when papers can get lost or communication can be in 3 different formats.
Most property investors don’t want to be property managers — they want to be passive owners.
They want peace of mind and an assurance that things are operating well and efficiently.
We offer new features like free landlord insurance for the first year and a rent payment guarantee to take that hassle away.
These areas are ripe for automation. The trick is to simplify time-consuming processes. We want to see everything you need in one place.
What’s been the hardest part of the property management business to automate or crack? The hardest thing it always balancing technology and operations.
We recently automated our owner onboarding so a customer can transfer their property over to us on their mobile phone. Making that a really simple experience required several months of work! And it’s something we see all the time.
Making something really simple on the outside is actually the hardest thing of all to do.
We’re always striving for efficiency and simplicity so owners have the context they need but also so our team can easily support a customer at any time.
You’re known for your people-centric approach to the problem? Our company is rooted in the belief that a solution requires both great technology and great people. Our motto: “Let people do what people do best; let technology do the rest,” reflects that.
Ultimately I prefer to ask “How can it be done” rather than “Can it be done?” and build a team to do that.
What’s been your best startup experience to date? At every company, especially :Different, the best part for me is watching the user actually use what we’ve built for the first time.
The feeling of having created something from nothing and seeing how it behaves in the real world is like nothing else.
Hopefully that response is good! Even if it isn’t, knowing your product exists gives you the confidence it can be improved and iterated upon to create the best user experience.
What’s been the worst? The hard part of startups is always the roller-coaster of ignorance.
Anytime you’re working on something, you don’t know what you don’t know. Did ads fall of a cliff because the algorithm changed? Did people suddenly stop using the app because it’s got a massive error or is it just a holiday where people are busy?
When you’re monitoring every metric like a hawk, every change can feel like a fire drill, which can lead to massive stress and burnout.
Each person has to find their own way to deal with it but it’s important to keep calm and have a strategy!
What’s the Australian startup market like to work in? It’s smaller and newer than Silicon Valley. It’s often harder to find people or companies with specific knowledge in the area you’re looking for. That being said, the community is helpful and growing, so that’s a positive sign.
You’ve both got international experience. What brought you to Sydney? Australia has an incredibly strong property owning and investing culture, particularly in the big cities like Sydney. Ruwin grew up here and we both felt it was the best place to build :Different!
How did you make the transition from your previous careers? Well, we took the opportunity to do some extended traveling in 2017 to be fresh and focused for the new challenge ahead.
At this point, it feels like our careers to date have been the preparation for :Different. We’ve worked to scale big technology operations. Both of us are Xooglers. Ruwin was also at Softbank and Mina ran product globally for Uber for nearly 4 years, starting when it was just 20 people.
How has your network helped your business? Our Silicon Valley network has been extremely helpful to us both in terms of hiring and access to opportunities to build our company and its brand.