Q&A with Max Scianna, co-founder of I Am The Agent

  • Monday 13th November 2017
  • by Crowdcube

Data-driven property hub, I Am The Agent, charges property owners fixed-price online sales and rental packages, leading to average cost savings of £5.5k+ on sale fees, £1k per property let. Launched in 2011, the company has served over 150,000 clients, achieving nearly £700k revenue (-£106k EBITDA).

We spoke to Max Scianna, co-founder of I Am The Agent to find out about his background, role and future plans for his company.

Tell us about your background?

I've been a web programmer for almost twenty years - I started out with a small agency, Syrox eMedia, in Kingston upon Thames where I learned my trade. I was there for 10 years and worked my way up to Technical Manager, which involved running a team of designers and developers, specifying projects with clients, managing budgets and timescales as well as hands on programming. While I was with Syrox I worked with various high profile clients such as Getty Images, FIFA, Ted Baker and MTV, creating everything from one-off competitions to grow audiences to multi-million turnover ecommerce sites to completely bespoke digital rights and asset management systems.

After a couple of years as tech manager I decided to strike out on my own and, around this time, I met Rebecca via a recommendation from an old client. Rebecca told me about her nascent project and I could immediately see the potential in her plans. I've never liked the traditional estate agency model and the opportunity to shake things up with a new online model was too good to pass by so I jumped on board as a co-founder.

What is your role at I Am The Agent?

I am responsible for the website and all the various bespoke background technology that connects our systems to our partners and allows us to provide a truly scalable, automated, efficient and cost-effective service to our clients.

My role includes building the website and services, managing our small in-house development team in maintaining our systems and delivering new features, coordinating with design and marketing, and generally supporting the day to day activities of the business, clients and the customer services team.

What impact will this investment have for you and your team?

We have done a great job with the resources that we've had available so far but the thing with online is there are so many ways to innovate that you can always do more. We've got loads of ideas to make things even easier for clients to add and manage properties, communicate with enquirers, manage viewings and generally help them get their properties sold or let in the shortest possible time - unlike a traditional estate agency our costs are directly tied to the amount of time a property is on the market so we do everything we can to ensure a fast and successful sale or let.

What impact does this have for future growth?

We've been collecting masses of data over the past few years about landlords and vendors, but also about tenants, buyers and the property market in general. This has enabled us to better understand and even predict the needs of our clients. And this data also offers the opportunity for additional revenue streams. For example we have a property management app at wireframe stage just waiting for the resources to bring it to market.

What excites you about the future of I Am The Agent?

The potential to be truly disruptive in the estate agency industry and to empower homeowners and landlords to really take control of their properties. Also, from a nerdy perspective, the opportunity to use the latest technology to deliver an innovative digital platform which makes a difference in people's lives.

What about the technology?

From the beginning Rebecca and I realised that we'd need to build everything we needed from scratch as nothing suitable existed out there in the proprietary or open-source software worlds. Rebecca was seeking someone to do exactly that and I was up for the challenge so we got stuck in.

Going the completely bespoke route has allowed us to build scalability in from the start, integrate with partners efficiently, and build a customer journey and functionality that doesn't have to fit a preconceived notion of how something should work.

This has translated into practical savings on things like IT infrastructure and hosting costs without compromising website performance for clients, allowing us to scale easily and cost-effectively as we grow. It's also enabled our customer services team to handle a much larger number of clients than more traditional Client Relationship Management systems, which again puts us in a good position for growth.

We've been able to tailor our offerings based on client feedback rather than being stuck within a defined framework from an off-the-shelf product and we also own all our own IP and as a result won't run into licensing issues in future as the business grows.

All in all going the bespoke route has kept us in control and put us in the best possible position to capitalise in this growing sector of the estate agency market.

You can find out more about I Am The Agent and invest by visiting the pitch page today.

Investments of this nature carry risks to your capital. Please Invest Aware.