When property investor Jakub Rzeplinski bought his first house, it wasn't the fantastic experience he had hoped for. He faced a lot of bureaucracy, months of pulling together documents for the mortgage application in just the right format and, to make matters worse, the bank messed it up internally. What should have taken three months took nine and left him feeling on edge. It got Jakub thinking about the whole process of buying a property and ways to improve it, which sparked the idea for On To The Ladder.
Right now, two-thirds of Millennials can't afford to buy in London. Worse still, one in three will never own their own home, predicts Thinktank. On To The Ladder's Rent-to-Own home platform will let buyers choose a home from its listings and move in with just a 1% deposit; it also aims to cut bureaucracy and transaction times from months to mere hours. Buyers pay a monthly rent, with the option to pay more to grow their share in their home.
Jakub knew he had hit on the right idea – Renter Buyer and Proportunity are two other platforms also tapping into this new trend – but he needed help getting his idea off the ground. With two previous start-ups behind him, he looked to The Founder Institute (FI), a 14-week step-by-step start-up launch programme offered in multiple cities. Workspace teamed up with the business accelerator earlier this year to offer one lucky competition winner three months of free co-working space, worth £900.
Jakub says, "FI has a great reputation and has helped many big companies get off the ground. I thought, "Let's try a more structured process that is a proven model, to get the company from idea stage to full-on execution.
"The biggest benefit is you are kept accountable and expected to work hard to push your business forwards, making measurable progress on a weekly basis. If you don't, they kick you out. Only 30% of companies that apply finish the programme, so you have to stay on top of the ball. That’s all in addition to tapping into Founder Institute's network of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors, that is the biggest sell."
The Founder Institute condenses a year's worth of work into three months; it held a number of workshops on topics like product development, fundraising and measuring customer validation. These were held at Workspace centres – including Cargo Works in Waterloo, The Record Hall in Hatton Garden, and The Frames in Shoreditch – to introduce attendees to a thriving, entrepreneurial environment.
Jakub says, "My favourite Workspace centre is China Works. The beautiful brickwork and cool interior made this a really unique place to work." China Works dates back to the 1800s when it was the Royal Doulton factory; today the Grade II-listed building is home to hundreds of fast-growing enterprises.
Jakub says, "If you don't complete them, you're out. One guy got three of these special assignments on top of the regular weekly ones; he really pushed himself to achieve them! They are designed to be difficult to test you. At the end of the day, you learn something about your business. They are really designed to make you re-think your business model and see if it's sustainable."
The London Founder Institute semester came to an end on 12th June, producing twelve graduates spanning the worlds of technology, sustainability, gaming and more. They got to meet the FI's CEO Adeo Ressi, a firm fixture on Silicon Valley's entrepreneur scene, at the graduation ceremony in Soho.
So how did The Founder Institute help Jakub on his journey to launching On To The Ladder?
He says, "It has taken it from an idea on a sheet of paper to where we are at today. The platform is being developed and we are at the "Proof of Concept" stage. We are talking to multiple institutional investors to raise our seed fund and we have a potential deal in the works. Our crowdfunding campaign will launch in January 2020. "
Founded on the principle of providing flexible space for SMEs to flourish, Jakub says Workspace is the ideal environment from which to grow his business. "Once we achieve significant traction and grow our team, I would love to keep developing my business from a Workspace business centre like China Works. The fantastic design, entrepreneurial co-working environment and flexible lease make it a great place to build up Onto The Ladder."
Do you need flexible co-working space to help turn your dream business into a reality? Workspace has 20 co-working locations like China Works across London with flexible memberships, discounted meeting rooms for pitching presentations and educational workshops that foster start-up growth. Find the right space for you and your business today.