Russell Quirk of eMoov
eMoov founder Russell Quirk explains the story behind the business and shares his top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.
What is it the company does?
We are changing the way that people sell houses. We’ve turned the traditional estate agency business on its head and our approach is predicated around three core elements:
What does your role involve?
My responsibility is to ensure that our vision is delivered upon and that I hire the best team around me and raise the money needed to ensure that we grow into that vision. I also lead the culture within the business and, together with my co-founder on the product/technology side, push for innovation in everything that we do. One of my favourite aspects of my role is the opportunity to advance our brand via PR, which we run in-house very successfully.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
In 1984 I left school and joined the family estate agency business, Quirk & Partners.
Unfortunately, by 1986 my father had sold the business and encouraged me to follow him into the motor trade where I began a career selling Mazda cars.
In a quest to advance, I then landed a role selling Porsche and Ferrari at Lancaster, part of the Jardine Matheson group. In 1995 I sold a Ferrari to a City broker who persuaded me to learn the foreign exchange broking trade, which I hated and returned to Lancaster two years later and where I subsequently won awards for sales performance.
In 1999 I had the opportunity to buy an estate agency office with my father and cousin and I jumped at the prospect of rekindling the family estate agency business. We grew aggressively from nothing to six branches in six years and enjoyed a great lifestyle until the financial crisis of 2008 where we all went our separate ways as we had different ideas on the direction that we thought the business should take.
This was a pivotal time and pushed me/inspired me to launch eMoov and which I launched in mid 2010.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Adaptability. Conviction with humility. To listen. Utter determination. And the ability to encourage people to come with you on the journey.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Fundraising. The novelty has well and truly worn off for me now and whilst it’s a buzz to raise a seven figure cheque, after the third time or so, the toil, admin and wasted meetings wear you down. I just want to get on with running the business.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I don’t tend to feel stressed even when the chips are down. I tend to have a number of contingencies running round in my head that give me comfort if ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work out and so that helps a lot. In all though, my four kids put the angst of commerce into perspective and make me laugh. They mock me relentlessly (in an adoring way of course) and are really endearing. They’re all clever, sporty and so on and I’m desperately proud of them.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I am the son of an estate agent’s son. I grew up in and around the family estate agency empire and when I was five I used to play ‘estate agents’ in my bedroom with spare window cards and a phone from my grandfather’s office. Pathetically sad, but true.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Untidiness – I like our office to look smart and to be a slick environment for our 60 or so team. I also can’t stand mischief making gossips that want to air their petty grievances about colleagues and display jealousy toward those that are more successful than they want to be. Bad apples definitely poison a barrel and we work hard to mitigate against that type of person and behaviour. We’re a happy ship.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Listed on the Stock Exchange and with a 5%+ share of the entire estate agency market.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Be prepared to accept that growing a business is about 10 times harder than you think it is. Seven day weeks, long days, aggro, money worries and disappointment are par for the course. But when you get through that, the rewards are worth it as is the freedom to do your thing, your way. It’s the old adage… never give up (unless your idea is truly rubbish of course).
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I wish I’d had advice from someone with no vested interest and that could have guided me through what a growth business is and how to gain access to a broad contact base of investors. I had no idea how to start and execute on a fundraising process originally and definitely made mistakes.
In contrast, I’ve since had a fair bit of bad advice and so it’s important to know your own mind whilst also taking account of other opinions and suggestions but you ultimately have to be decisive. As a start-up, a quick decision and a failure that you then learn and move on from, is better than being afraid to make a decision at all.