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Startup Stories: Ayumi Uyeda, Founder of Proppie

Ayumi joins us to talk about how her start-up, Proppie, is helping millennials get into property sooner by mortgage sharing.

by hao-nguyen on November 25, 2021

Ayumi Uyeda is the founder of Proppie, a mortgage-sharing matchmaker platform that’s helping millennials get into property sooner by mortgage sharing.

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Hey Ayumi, it’s always good having you back to chat with us. For those who may not know, can you talk a little about your start-up Proppie and what inspired you to launch it?

Sure! Proppie is a mortgage sharing matchmaker platform and is the first in Australia – it may be the first globally too as far as we can Google. The idea is to tackle the problem of how unaffordable property is for our millennials by giving them a new way to enter into the property market.

The biggest barrier facing millennials is the upfront costs required, and for a $500k property, this can be between $120-140k for deposit and all the costs associated with buying. That’s pretty hard to save up!

So, by sharing the upfront costs and repayments, we aim to help people mortgage share. Proppie is a platform that enables this from start to finish, from finding someone to “team up” with all the way through to post-settlement. You can also sell your share of the property when it makes sense for you, so this is something new.

The idea is not a new one and it’s been bugging me since I was in my early 20s, and I guess I thought this would become a normal way to buy and sell property, and that the industry would do this, but it hasn’t happened.

So when my millennial step-kids were facing the same hurdles of making a break into property, the burning desire to address this problem burned very brightly for me and so I found myself at a crossroads, a very exciting one because there was this idea that still hadn’t been done and was screaming to be unboxed! So I couldn’t resist the urge to jump into this problem head first (albeit a couple of decades later).

Before launching Proppie, you spent most of your career working at large pharmaceuticals and multinationals – you were the Managing Director for Blackmores from 2020-2021. What was the experience like transitioning from a corporate environment to the start-up world?

Yes, gosh. I have learned so, so much over the years and the best part of working for these big international companies is that you get to work with incredible people.

There are smart people in every corner of the world, and living and working in so many places gave me the chance to really enjoy that, to learn how others think, understand the influence of culture on perspectives and what makes people tick and most interestingly, what makes them laugh.

The big companies also expose you to great processes, how to introduce stability into businesses and you get to work with some of the best talent in highly specialized areas like IT, regulatory, medical, HR, supply chain as well as gaining a breadth of experience on how to commercialise and grow products and brands.

Honestly, transitioning from big to small has been a real thrill, because you get to go from a more measured, bureaucratic environment to one of complete freedom where ideas are begging to be tested. I have always found that the internal navigation of a large global company is a skill in itself, and often harder than actually competing in the market, so to move to an environment where we can be completely consumer-led is a dream.

How do you think your experiences working at corporations have shaped the way you’re building Proppie? Did you have to spend some time unlearning some habits and processes?

Oh it has been invaluable. I have been lucky to work in very small countries and on small brands with tiny budgets, as well as starting up a country from scratch (Japan) where we entered and built new brands, to very large organisations with responsibility for revenue that goes over $1billion. This breadth of experience has taught me the skills to manage small and tight as well as deep and complex businesses with scale.

What this means for me, is that it has taught me to spend on a shoestring, and have the confidence to spend big when there’s a big bet to be made in the market. I’ve learned to always consider the resource planning that goes with a build-up, expansion and even on the flipside, a down-size, and so building the right teams for beyond today’s needs is something that is always at the front of my mind when making decisions on priorities and areas to focus.

Hmmm, what to unlearn, actually I feel more like I can unleash! I’ve learned so much as I’ve delved into the details in the last couple of months, so it may be that I’m picking up more bad habits now that I might have to unlearn later, like having control of everything.

What are your long-term goals for Proppie? Where do you see the company headed in the next 3-5 years?

The long-term goal for Proppie is to create a world where owners and renters are equals, where it’s ok to rent because there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to owning property.

This model will change the renter-landlord relationship from being one that is oppositional to one that is aligned and will change the property landscape where buying and selling a part share of a property is the norm. It would be a world where going in with someone is expected to be done under a legal framework and all parties know this is just the smart approach so all parties are clear on the decision making going in and getting out of the property.

Because the Australian economy and culture is heavily reliant on property financially, it is really important that property is accessible. I do truly believe that as people, we need to be continually working towards something and know that we can realise the futures we dream of, and if we can’t do this, I think there are much, much bigger social issues that can materialize.

And so now, the pharmacist perspective comes out, but if people don’t think they will have a secure future financially (and property plays an important role in this), then we will see longer-term impacts on happiness, anxiety, stress and when that happens, we open the door to health issues. So, for me there is a strong link here between housing affordability and the nation’s state of happiness.

I bet that got a bit more serious than you bargained for! But seriously, if Proppie can help a generation into property, then we will all benefit from the full potential that this generation has to offer our communities, because they are happy, healthy and able to give their best back.

What a great note to end this interview on. Thanks so much for your time Ayumi, as always it was lovely speaking to you and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of these conversations in the future!

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