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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Millionaire online agency owner says: 'Don't worry about exam results'

Akshay Ruparelia, the 21 year old who founded the online agency Doorsteps while he was still in sixth form, has called for a change to the “monotone grading system” as shown in this week’s school exam results.

Doorsteps was launched in 2016 when Ruparelia was a 17 year-old A-level student. 

A carer for his parents - who are both deaf - Ruparelia became involved in running the household as a child, including navigating the sale of the family home, which inspired him to launch an agency with a £7,000 loan from relatives.

Ruparelia has pledged to make Doorsteps the biggest estate agency in Britain.

It currently has some locally-based field agents and fees starting at £99; it claims to have saved customers £4m in fees so far and lists over 2,000 properties.

Ruparelia says Doorsteps is the 10th largest UK agent, is aiming for a 1.9 per cent market share this year and targets a turnover of £6m by the end of 2020.

Now the agency owner has turned his attention to education and says: “I think we need to change, culturally, away from the constrictions of a simple, monotone grading system and start to understand that we need to develop young, bright, well-rounded individuals – whether entrepreneurs or not.

“The grading system does not capture more holistic soft skills – communication, leadership, and so on. Schools alone can try to harness this through extracurricular opportunities to reach beyond their comfort zones and offering more opportunity for kids to fail and learn from the failures, in the safe ecosphere that they’re in.

"If you don't achieve the grades you want this year, don't worry. Employers have become much more receptive to skill-sets and varied experiences; in some cases, prioritising this over your university degree (and whether you have one). We are lucky to be in an era of openness and experimentation which some of our previous generations didn't have, and endless possibility with the internet."

  • Andrew Stanton Estate Agency Insights Strategies

    I want to start by saying that I admire anyone who gets off their bottom and tries to do something, as in the case of hardworking Ashkay. But, I think the words 'endless possibility with the internet' is a truer reflection of what is now gripping the business sector, as there is an awful lot of misdirection and as Mr Trump likes to put it fake news out there.

    For a kick off - I do not think Ashkay is a millionaire, and I am sure he will not mind me saying this, he has sold shares in his jointly owned company for over £800,000, and he and his family member retain a substantial amount of shares. But the company is not listed on the stock exchange or the AIM so the shares he holds are without value.

    Regarding the present value of Doorsteps, I think the annual accounts are due in September so I reserve judgement as to what profit has been made in the last year, but I would be surprised if it has made any profit. Which means that Ashkay has lots of shares in a company that does not make any money and is propped up by crowdfunding.

    What I am trying to convey is that - a lot of harm has been done to estate agency, because the outside perception of the general public is that property professionals are millionaires, when in fact most are for the hours they work on a minimum wage. Perhaps, then, people in the public eye such as Ashkay, would be better off encouraging the 'youth' to focus more on having a solid education, rather than dreaming up the next big thing on the internet, which inevitably these days seems to be funded by numerous individuals who dig into their own pockets and fund enterprises which never make a profit or give a dividend to them. Personally, having qualifications and a degree, back in the day when only 5% of the country had degrees, opened doors for me, so I still think that as a back up in case the internet does not bring riches … get as much education and learning under your belt.

    Algarve  Investor

    I agree that education is still vitally important, but I think the point he's trying to make is that the current system is flawed - with too much focus on high-pressure exams which don't really give a good indication of a person's capabilities past their ability to retain information.

    I think a similar argument could be made for interviews - where the intention often seems to be to catch people out, to put them in unlikely hypothetical scenarios and ask them to problem solve unlikely situations. Some people interview superbly, and then aren't up to the job; while some people might be nervous interviewees but terrific at their job.

    What's more, so many more people now go to university, which means degrees have less sway, prestige and influence than they once did. Still important, and a good marker, but unlikely to open as many doors as they once did.

    There was an interesting documentary on the BBC the other day about breaking into the elite, and how difficult it is. Britain is still a closed shop in many areas of life, with a who you know culture and top positions dominated by a cabal of privately-educated, Oxbridge folk. Estate agency, for all its faults, is actually fairly meritocratic and a profession which gives the opportunity to anyone, from any background, to achieve - as Ashkay has proven. The millionaire thing is a bit of window-dressing - and a press-friendly soundbite - but you have to admire his gumption and nous to create a whole business at such a young age.

    More power to his elbow, I say.

     
  • Algarve  Investor

    I agree with Ashkay about the exam/grading system - it could do with a revamp to ensure people aren't judged on academic ability alone. As he says, soft skills are just as important - especially in the world of work - and different people have intelligence in different areas.

    I, for example, am useless when it comes to anything practical - and would be completely lost in the running of my properties without those who are. I'm relatively academic, but how many things I learnt at school way back when now help me in my day-to-day life? Very few. Algebra, for instance, rarely comes in very handy.

    University degrees are also not the be-all and end-all - they help, but people again shouldn't be judged on these alone. Being a successful worker, businessperson or entrepreneur is about so much more than how good you are at exams and, in many cases, remembering and absorbing stuff. Life skills are just as vital - more so, in fact.

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