Almost all business sectors see the rise of a maverick that turns the ballgame on its head once in a while. But rarely is that person a 19-year-old who also juggles studies and exams along the way. Akshay Ruparelia, however, is that new kid on the block, who is giving real estate giants in the UK, a run for their money. He became Britain’s youngest millionaire after his online estate agency business doorsteps.co.uk was valued at £12 million and became the 18th biggest estate agency in the UK in just 16 months since the website went live. The website claims to have already sold £100 million worth of properties. Though a British-born Indian, Akshay loves to embrace his roots and culture. “My father, Kaushik, was born in Kenya and my mum, Renuka, was born in London. They both originally hail from Gujarat. Like other Gujaratis in the UK, who came via East Africa, they had to work for very long hours and struggle to establish themselves. Those values of hard work, determination and self-discipline were inherent and helped me in achieving my goals. My culture also taught me to do sewa ie. giving back to the society,” he says, with a sense of pride.
The young millionaire obviously finds his achievement overwhelming but it was his foresight and labour that did the trick for him. “It was just a case of having a vision and working hard to pursue this goal of potentially changing the landscape of the industry,” he explains. The sewa tradition comes up again, as Akshay wants to save people from traditional estate agents, who charge thousands of pounds in commission to sell a house. He offers the same service for £99. “Doorsteps.co.uk was started to hopefully forefront the revolution of technological disruption into the property industry. I engaged in a lot of topical reading of creative disruption and property markets and similar industries while at school. It provoked a keen business interest within me. This was in preparation to read economics, so it was relevant. During school, it was about building concept and branding while ensuring time management was handled well alongside A-Levels. It all roots back to my sense of awareness in discovering unfair estate agent fees when moving homes as a family around eight years ago.” In a nutshell, it’s not about earning more money for him but saving hundreds of thousands of people, hundreds of millions of pounds in agency fees. “The goal is to become Britain’s favourite estate agent by doing good for the customers,” says the boy, who credits the biography of Ryanair founder Michael O’Leary for his eureka moment.
His focus on work is inspirational, and what is even more intriguing is that he did it all in the last leg of his teenage years. He thanks life experiences for that. “Having deaf parents means you have to become mature and responsible at a young age. This instills resilience to face challenges that one might face in a business environment and the work ethic otherwise. My older sibling, Anisha has been a very important part of my upbringing and then I always had role models like my hardworking parents around me,” he says but clarifies, “Socially and interactively, I am pretty much like any 19-year-old. I am a very outgoing person and enjoy the company of like-minded people around me.”
So, will he be looking to spread his business in India? “We are starting fund raising for our Series A round of investment of £5m. I am pleased to have had a number of enquiries from India recently. It would be great to have Indian partners in establishing and growing our business,” says the lad nicknamed Alan Sugar after business tycoon and Apprentice star Baron Sugar.
On a lighter note, we ask if he has been getting more female attention ever since he made headlines.
Akshay says, “Yeah, there have been a few interesting requests, but I have avoided distractions.”