Meet Britain’s youngest self-made millionaire

Building: Ruparelia turned down a place at Oxford University to build his estate agency business.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur? Akshay Ruparelia was just 17 when he set up his online estate agency — it is now worth millions. He talks The Day through his extraordinary journey.

“What’s that famous phrase: ‘keep it simple, stupid’ — that’s probably one of my favourite pieces of advice,” Akshay Ruparelia says. No wonder, it’s a principle that has brought him stunning success.

Set up when he was just 17, Ruparelia’s online estate agency Doorsteps.co.uk was built on a simple vision: sell houses while charging the lowest commission possible. He sold his first home while completing his A-levels. Now his estate agency empire is valued at £12 million.

“You need to have broader motives then just money,” Ruparelia insists. “Once you motivate yourself with a passion that comes from pleasing staff, pleasing a customer, and having a team spirit… that’s the exciting stuff.” Nonetheless, Ruparelia’s approach still made him the youngest person on this year’s Rich List.

When Ruparelia first started out, he was reluctant to reveal his age to staff and clients. “It was all about presenting myself confidently,” he says. “I had members of staff and people who didn’t know my age that assumed I was 24 or 25. When it came out people were like: ‘oh, you’re young’.”

But when it comes to the hard work required, age makes no difference: “It’s pretty constant. It’s a 100 hour week and I don’t think it will change any time soon, but I kind of like it that way.”

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

On the market

“Test your idea cheaply, that was a big one for me,” Ruparelia says. “Don’t go out and spend lots of money or raise lots of money if you’re not sure that it’s going to work. For me customer feedback was my paramount thing on which the business depended.”

“Never stop learning too. People learn about different areas within the sector, so learn from other business people — that’s really important, never stop learning.”

You Decide

  1. Is money a good guide to success?

Activities

  1. Ruparelia’s business takes a traditional industry and provides customers a cheap alternative which is run entirely online. Can you think of any other industries that you could change by using the internet? Discuss your thoughts with your classmates.

Some People Say...

“You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.”

Richard Branson

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
High street estate agents are still bigger players in the market than online estate agencies. In the third quarter of 2018, high street agencies completed almost 270,000 transactions.
What do we not know?
How quickly online estate agencies will grow in the future. In the first quarter of this year there were just under 15,000 online sales, growing to 20,000 by the third quarter.

Word Watch

Commission
Money earned which is a set percentage of the sale of an item.
Rich List
Published each year by the Sunday Times, it ranks the wealthiest individuals in the UK. It also runs a separate list detailing the richest under 30s in the country.
Came out
Ruparelia’s story has been the subject of much media attention, including interviews on morning TV and in national newspapers.
Paramount
More important than anything else.

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