Getting to know you: Ben Grech

What do you currently do?
As part of the founding team within Uniplaces, the global student accommodation platform, I spend as much time as possible working on the company vision, making sure our team and strategy are aligned to that. I also work a lot with investors and am always on the look for talented people to join our team!

What is your inspiration in business?
I take inspiration from many places, especially from positive, ambitious people who want to make things happen and bring a vision to life. It is always interesting to learn from entrepreneurs who have been successful. Their stories are interesting, even surprising and there are often of commonalities which can be applied to our journey with Uniplaces.

Who do you admire?
I definitely admire more people now than I used to. That’s a great part of being involved in a growing business. You get to meet and work with loads of interesting and talented people – there are many people within Uniplaces who I admire, including our investors and advisors. Alex Chesterman has been a great role model for us.

Looking back, would you have done things differently?
I think I would have invested more in marketing sooner. In the startup phase there is so much to do and everything is important – marketing almost feels like a luxury. I see a lot of startups who say “we got X traction with $0 spent on marketing” – including us. I don’t think it proves anything because every business will invest in marketing to scale. You need to understand that part of your business from early on and you need to be growing as fast as you can.

What defines your way of doing business?
Think big, start small, move fast. And, do it from the heart. Quoting a fellow entrepreneur “you can start a charity, or an aggressively commercial business with a good heart”. I like that.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Firstly, make sure you do something that you feel strongly about. People talk a lot about passion but I think a lot of entrepreneurs are passionate business builders. It is important to believe in what your company does enough to commit a significant chunk of your life to it.

Have a clear vision, talk to people about it, get feedback, refine it. Understand the business you want to build and assemble the right founding team to make that happen. Look for people with all the necessary skills to launch an “MVB” (minimum viable business). Have a plan for stage one – what is it that you need to prove first? Resource for that and execute. Be adaptive as you progress, but always keep your vision in mind.