With our next PropertyTech dinner on the horizon, we thought this was a great time to share our catch up with James Harrison, who attended our last PropertyTech dinner back in May. As the founder of BillHub, James is changing the way tenants live together. By bringing utilities into the 21st Century, they offer a digital solution that better fits the needs of the modern housing market. Find out more from James in this week’s #BusinessSpotlight:
What’s the elevator pitch for your business?
We’re revolutionising the way housemates live together. The technology behind our platform redefines convenience, transparency and security for renters. It’s free to use and perfect for housemates who are looking to simplify the process behind shared bills. The housing situation in the UK is fundamentally changing the way we live together and one area that has seen massive growth is shared accommodation. Currently, there’s a void in the market for products and services that adequately fit the needs of these types of renters, and that’s what we’re changing.
What were you doing before you launched the company?
I was a commodities trader, specialising in energy. It was a great job and certainly suited my entrepreneurial personality. The pressure was immense and the hours were long, however, I can’t say much has changed since.
If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?
Carlos and I met through a friend. At the time, we were working in a similar area of the City. He was working at a bank, developing high frequency trading algorithms for the energy markets, among other things. Although we were working at opposite ends of the trading world, we were both engaged in the same markets, so we started going to lunch, mainly comparing our views and different perspectives. It didn’t take long for us both to work out that we wanted to do something different.
What’s your biggest hindsight moment?
Before our recent name change, we shared a certain part of our name with an unnamed multinational company. Over the last two years, we’ve proved exceptionally popular; unfortunately this has put us in the spotlight, somewhat. After lengthy discussions, spanning more than six months, we decided to change our name.
What will the rest of 2015 bring?
We’re working hard to develop some great new features for September, which is a busy time of the year for our student market. We’re in a rapidly evolving industry within the property rental/utility market. There is so much opportunity for tech innovation that the possibilities are endless.
We’re also really interested to see how the property market moves forward post election. We think a BoE rate increase towards the end of the year would be good for the rental market as mortgages increase, although this seems unlikely until early 2016.
One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Just start. Whatever you want to do, there’s no time like the present! And don’t let the word ‘no’ stop you.
Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
No one likes talking about bills. We don’t want you or your house mates to have to think about bills, let alone discuss them. We make sure you’re getting the best deal for you and then we consolidate all your household bills into one. More free time for what you love.
What’s your favourite startup in your sector?
I love eMoov. I’d say they’re among the leading companies behind the property technology movement at the moment.
What’s your favourite London restaurant?
Shake shack, no doubt about it!
What’s your favourite meal?
Pizza. I’m slightly ashamed to say I’ve had my fair share of ‘Two for Tuesdays’…
Find more of our #BusinessSpotlights here. If you’d like your business featured on our blog, email email@example.com with the subject title: I want to be a #BusinessSpotlight!