Akshay Ruparelia, the young founder and head of the online agency Doorsteps, has been shortlisted for one of the most prestigious entrepreneurial awards in the UK.
He is a finalist in the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, where the judges include Holly Tucker of Notonthehighstreet, Steven Smith of Poundland, and the former Dragon’s Den star and Emoov investor James Caan.
Winners of the award in past years include Darren Westlake of crowdfunding site Crowdcube, Matt Asman of computer firm Cisco, and Justin Basini who set up the credit agency ClearScore.
Last weekend Ruparelia appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Any Questions programme as a young entrepreneur, while he was also the subject of a feature in the Daily Telegraph magazine.
Ruparelia, who is still only 20, started Doorsteps after persuading family members to lend him £7,000; his agency originally operated while he was still at school at which time he instructed a call centre to handle enquiries.
Now he has a management team including former Rightmove Overseas chief Sham Golamy, and has had two successful crowdfunding rounds - the first, in 2017, aimed for £400,000 and received £550,000 while in the latest, just coming to an end later this month, also wanted £400,000 but has raised over £700,000.
“Our goal is to become the largest and best serving estate agent in Britain. We want to be the ‘go-to’ place to sell your home, with a blend of real-life agents and technology to offer fixed, fair pricing” Ruparelia says in his pitch to investors.
He has also hinted at expansion, mentioning in answers to online questions regarding his crowdfunding that he has family links with California where international expansion could be possible in the future; he says he has also spoken with brokers regarding a possible IPO for his company. However, both options remain on the table at the moment.