“Our vision is to make it easier and less risky to decide who you want to do business with, hire or be hired by.”
Jonathan Heavens | Founder

From Backpacking to Start-Up...

I initially started out as an accountant and worked up from an entry level accounts position to Finance Director in 9 years. From 2015 to 2019 I worked as a Financial Controller and then Finance Director, coming in to build up the finance department of a comparison website for airport parking. The company sold in 2018 and I exited in December 2019 with vested share options. The plan following this was to go backpacking during 2020, and then come home and build a company. I made it to Thailand, Laos and Vietnam before coming home in March due to Covid-19.
I’ve always had an interest in property, I bought my first buy to let a few years ago, have been to several PIN meetings and have read a bunch of property books. During lockdown I started joining property investment related facebook groups, and some whatsapp groups. I began researching investment strategies that would best utilise the money I’d made from exiting the startup. It’s more than some have, but realistically it wouldn’t go far in property.
The strategies I was most interested in were Buy Refurb Refinance Rent (BRRR) and Flips. BRRR deals would allow me to recycle the money I did have, and could act as an opportunity to gain experience in the process of refurbing properties. Flips could also be a route to expanding the available capital, which would provide more flexibility when looking at BRRR’s.

Spreadsheets, spreadsheets, spreadsheets...

Naturally, I opened up Excel and started creating spreadsheets to help me with the numbers side of things. I was following several people in the community and looking at the kinds of deals they were posting about, and was working back from their numbers, to understand the formula to then build out my spreadsheet some more. I wanted a process where I could arrive at the max offer price for a property, based on filling in the pieces on the revaluation, refurb cost, rental potential etc. As I was networking with more people, I was becoming more aware that the refurb cost and the revaluation number was hard for me to arrive at with confidence. Due to my inexperience on the refurb side of things, as well as the uncertainty around how exit options would look I decided to take a step back. What would realistically happen is that I would end up putting all the money I had into one BRR or Flip, I’d fall over and learn lots of mistakes, I’d have my money tied up for 6-9 months and I’d be unsure on how things would turn out down the line. This for me (shock that I have an accounting background) would be too much risk. I decided to take a step back, have the mentality of stick to what you know, and continue learning by networking and listening.
I was having a number of calls with sourcers, and was thinking that if they could help me find a property that exactly fitted the criteria of what I was after then this would be great. I was also looking at platforms that existed where there were sourcers who were listing deals, and investors who could assess the listings and then commit to making contact with the sourcer. This sounded great, however, when I was assessing these deals, as well as other strategies like R2R and R2SA, I wasn’t getting enough confidence from the due diligence process to want to commit some money
In addition to the numbers, it’s also very important to consider the sourcers as people. People are often the biggest risk, and it can sometimes be difficult to know who you can trust. If a person submits a mortgage application with a lender, there is a set criteria in place. The overall objective is to assess the risk so they can then adjust what they have to offer so they’re managing that risk. Within property, our processes when networking and deciding whether to work with or hire others isn’t the same. One question is whether it should be the same as the mortgage application process, or should it be similar, or is it just okay to do our own thing and decide for ourselves what we think is acceptable, and then see if things work out. Most of the time, they should work out right?

Take a step back...

So, when taking a step back I really got thinking about these kinds of interactions. I was looking a lot at these platforms for investors and sourcers, and I made contact with Gary, who was the head of the web development team at the previous startup. I wanted to have a conversation about what was needed in order to build a platform for people to interact with each other within property, and to help with the due diligence process on others. After numerous conversations with Gary and over 200 zoom calls, whatsapp or facebook messages (when networking in the community) it became clear to build an online platform that was centered around enhancing trust; to make the due diligence process easier when assessing levels of experience, professionalism and trustworthiness.
As we were fleshing out the idea and how it may look, we needed someone who could bring my appalling doodles to life and that’s where Dan came in. He was the creative director at the previous startup and the one that’s good with photoshop! Things snowballed from there and it's currently an ongoing feedback loop; taking my drawings and turning them into concept designs that Gary could then use to build out the platform.
In November we decided on TrustMix as the name and registered TrustMix Ltd with Companies House in December 2020.