The journey of an Islington entrepreneur
Last year Avin Rabheru decided to launch his own business in Clerkenwell after working as a venture capital investor for five years. He tells us about the journey of his start-up so far and gives potential entrepreneurs some useful tips
Avin Rabheru is the founder of Housekeep, another promising start-up in the landscape of East London’s Tech City. He identified one of the problems for young professionals in Islington – namely time to look after their homes – and now promises to give them precious time off with a new kind of online housekeeping service.
The 30-year-old entrepreneur has been in Clerkenwell for about eight years. He started out as a summer analyst before moving into consulting and then joining a venture capital fund in 2008. Since then he has also privately invested in early stage businesses, among them the minicab comparison app Kabbee. He has met more than 2000 entrepreneurs over the course of his career so far.
Housekeeping in Islington
“You start thinking about all those things that are a bit of a pain on Saturday mornings and ask yourself, is there a way to make that easier?” Avin says. To him, the dreaded task of housecleaning comes to mind first – a particular problem for busy, young professionals who have time consuming jobs but value their leisure hours.
“They are probably working quite hard and are also socially quite busy,” he says. Alongside this, there is a growing expectation that services, such as cabs and food, can be ordered within a few clicks online. Avin developed Housekeep in that vein, making it possible to go online to book a pair of cleaners for your house in just a minute.
For now, his business covers only Islington. “If you think about Islington, people tend to live within a striking distance of their office, whether in the West End, the City or Canary Wharf,” he says. They remain busy in Islington, an area that never switches off throughout the week and fills up with locals on the weekends. Avin himself enjoys spending his weekends in Clerkenwell, when the neighbourhood turns into what he calls a “village”, and he can enjoy a few beers at his local pub in Clerkenwell Green.
The busy day of an entrepreneur
Avin’s target market is often on the same overloaded schedule as himself. He says that entrepreneurship is a full-time job which takes up most of your time. “When you are in the pub, you will think about it; when you meet your friends, you want them to be customers – you will even dream about it, I guarantee you!”
On a typical day he starts around 9am and finishes some time between 7pm to midnight. During this time, he meets with the cleaning teams, communicates with customers as well as potential investors, and takes care of the administrative parts of his business like making sure that payments are done and the days ahead are properly scheduled. Some time is also taken to further develop the start-up and to think of other potential developments.
But surely he must take some time off as well? Avin keeps his Thursday nights free for some wine at the pub – in fact, he advises every budding entrepreneur to reserve one day in the week to switch off. Whether this means switching the phone off and not checking your e-mails, or just taking some time to reflect about the business and simply living for yourself.
6 tips for developing a start-up, from Avin Rabheru:
- Do it when it is the right time for you: “Some books will say begin when you are 16, some will say wait till you are 45.” Avin says that the best time to develop a start-up is when you are sure that you are ready to go and ready to work hard.
- Expect the “rollercoaster” effect: Developing a business is not without obstacles. There will be “good bits and bad bits”.
- Surround yourself with the right people: Talk to entrepreneurs and investors who know about your market. Have a team of people who are passionate about what they are doing; who are keen to adapt to possible changes.
- Don’t be too narrow: Avin stresses that sometimes you can have a lack perspective and be far too focused. Don’t hesitate to listen to people in the business who can lead you in the right direction.
- Don’t just go by your instinct, do some research: What you see as a product that people need will not necessarily be seen that way by others.
- Understand your market: You have to spend time understanding the risks and challenges that may come with starting up your business, and assessing what it is exactly that your customers require.
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