Getting to know you: James Davis, CEO and founder of Upad

We talk to James Davis, CEO and founder of Upad, about his inspirations in business, and find out what advice he’d give to someone just starting out.

What do you currently do?

Upad is the perfect resource for landlords to manage their property portfolio. I am the CEO and Founder of Upad, the UK’s largest online letting agent and recent winner of the Best Online Agent award at the ESTAS.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

My inspiration was the two million landlords in the UK who were getting a very poor service offering from the traditional channels. I carried out an experiment where I mystery shopped 10 letting agents on a Saturday morning i.e. the time when most tenants are wanting to organise their property viewings. Of those 10, 7 never came back to me and of the 3 they either emailed me days later to ask me to call them back to organise a viewing or alternatively asked me what my inside leg measurement was before wanting to organise a viewing! That demonstrated clearly to me that the current offering for landlords was not right and that the new world had to come about.

What defines your way of doing business?

Upad puts the customer at the heart of everything that we do and everything is catered towards who a landlord is. We further endorse that by all the teams within Upad sitting alongside each other so that the tech team can learn from the sales team and so on. The business from the top down has the persistence for excellence.

Who do you admire?

There is no one person that I admire, but I take a lot of admiration from a variety of people and businesses, whether this be how some bloggers have created a massive following through to Amazon’s virtuous circle model which Upad follows similarly.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have taken more calculated risks and I would continue to invest a lot of time and effort in driving excellence rather than doing something half-heartedly.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Believe in your gut instinct.

Be thick skinned – you will need to manage all of the advice that you are given – to be a true leader to excel at what stance you should be taking.

Invest in an excellent team around you and recognise your weaknesses. The cost of taking on an A-class employee and a B-class is minimal, compared to the additional value add an A-class employee will bring to you.

Be as stubborn as you can be.

Finally, do ‘dirty pilots’ (i.e. just try things in a quick and easy way rather than striving for excellence and testing it with your customers).