Interview with Ugo Arinzeh, managing director of Onyx Property Consultants
Find out how Ugo Arinzeh spotted a gap in the London property market for US-style real estate agents, and launched Onyx Property Consultants as a result.
What’s your career background?
I have an MBA in finance and was a real estate investment banker for over 10 years with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Along the way I have bought and sold property, done house renovations and taken interior design classes after my first major renovation project.
When did you get the idea for your business?
After moving to London to work for an architect as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), I was observing the London property market.
One of the things that struck me as odd, and a major flaw in the system was that most buyers were not being represented by an agent, the way they are in America.
I saw this as an opportunity to fill the ‘gap’ in the market and work with buyers, primarily foreign buyers and overseas landlords – I could help them find the right property and also look after it. After a few years, I joined Keller Williams and have been able to get into sales as well.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
My business is a service so after setting up the name, logo and website, it was a matter of working with my connections and sharing my offering. It was also about making connections and following up on introductions and suggested contacts.
What’s your USP?
Our USP is that we are a boutique, one-stop shop offering sales, buying, lettings and management for our clients throughout London. Really the most important thing is that we are relationship driven and create “tailor-made” solutions for each client.
Who’s your target audience?
Our target audience is foreign buyers looking for a second home or investment property in London, as well as local vendors and landlords.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I am very active on social media. Part of my USP is showing off London, the different areas and why it’s such a great place to live, so social media helps me do that. Also, I do a lot of networking.
Really the most important thing is to consistently create messaging and content that people care about and we do that through our email newsletter, social media and staying in touch with our database.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Developing and maintaining a mindset of persistence, belief and purposefulness is essential. Building a business from scratch is hard so it’s really important to see the obstacles as challenges and to never give up on yourself.
And your proudest moment so far?
I would say the fact that I am thriving and expanding my business in a challenging London property market has to be the thing I am most proud of to date.
Why is work so important to you?
I feel honoured that the work I do helps people during what can be a very stressful time of their lives. Buying and selling a home is often associated with other life events and people need someone that they trust and feel is on their side.
My work gives me a real sense of fulfilment. I want to do it to the best of my abilities and believe there is a space for me, given the way the traditional estate agency industry operates.
From a monetary perspective, my success allows me to do things to help my family and support other causes that I care about.
Who inspires you?
Lots of people inspire me but it started at home with my very strong and dynamic mother who raised four children while getting on with her own education and building a business with my dad.
In addition, famous people like Oprah Winfrey inspire me because their stories are not just about the success they are experiencing today, but more importantly, about what they have gone through and overcome to get to it. And they are constantly looking to learn, grow and be better.
How do you balance your business with your family?
It’s really hard. I give a lot of energy and time to my business and it’s often at the expense of my personal life. Working for yourself, while you have all the flexibility in the world, it can also be really hard to shut off.
I do think it’s important to have a solid morning routine so I start each day with prayer, meditation, gratitude and yoga stretches.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
- Start each day with a morning routine that is purposeful.
- Get a business coach.
- The number one trait of successful people is perseverance so get the right mindset to never give up.