A DAY IN THE LIFE INTERVIEW: GEMMA YOUNG
This week’s Day in the Life Interview comes from London startup Settled. Founded by brother and sister team Paul and Gemma Young, Settled aims to make buying and selling a home easier with a more modern and open solution for home owners.
1. First can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?
I started on this path after my first job out of university where I was an estate agent, from there I moved into the digital space when the internet was just beginning to have an impact on the world and business. I started out in marketing for a digital agency and then spent eight years working for Google where I was really lucky to work for them in Europe, Silicon Valley and Africa. Africa was particularly amazing, the tech scene was just getting really started, we’ll see some exciting companies coming from this continent over the next few years.
2. What brought you to this area?
I’ve always had a passion for consumers brands. Brands which connect with people and which promote happiness. I realised that one of the most in need areas was the real estate sector and, based on my property and technological background, I realised I was actually in a pretty good position to do something.
Buying and selling a home is an extremely emotional area. It’s up there with the top three most stressful things we do in our lifetimes and it’s high time that’s changed. I wanted to create a brand and business to fight for consumers rather than one focused on servicing the middleman.
3. What time does your day start, and what does your typical work day schedule look like?
I tend to wake up in the morning open up my laptop or look at my phone to see what’s been happening, check up on a few things before heading into the office in Hoxton. I spend the day speaking to various people in my team, attending internal meetings, brainstorming, planning our roadmap, listening to customer feedback. I have an amazing technology team who are dedicated to building our product and, because my main passion is user experience, I tend to spend a lot of my time working on this.
4. What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
There are two, and they are both very people related! The first one is my team, coming from Google it was so important for us to build an amazing culture, that was a massive driving force behind wanting to set up a business. I co-founded with my brother and we’ve joked about the team feeling like a big family – that is an amazing feeling and it’s come from a commitment to finding people who share our passion for what we are doing.
And the other thing is how we love our customers and they love Settled. We have built the business around them, focusing on exactly what they want. That means they are more than our customers, they’re extended team members.
5. Who is your professional role model?
As a young girl, one of my biggest inspirations was my auntie. I remember seeing her talk passionately about her work, and, over the years seeing her progress from graduating to the point where she had a huge role. There weren’t and aren’t as many women represented at these levels in business and I think that’s helped me know it’s possible. My parents also helped me by never being prescriptive on the subjects I took at school and by encouraging me to follow the paths which I enjoyed the most.
6. What is the one app you could not live without?
Citymapper, for getting around London.
7. What makes London a good city for technology and startups?
Before when I was working in San Francisco for Google I would go into a coffee shop and everywhere you would hear people talking about startups. This fostered a real climate of opportunity. It embodied the idea that when you connect people in one location with the right infrastructure, talent and funding, a culture of possibility existed. London was nothing like that seven years ago. I’m delighted to say it’s changed. Government funding, co-working spaces, venture capital and helped to create an amazing business opportunities in London. Now we don’t have to head to Silicon Valley to build big, ambitious businesses.
8. Which tech trends are you most excited about?
I think blockchain is really exciting for the real estate sector, as is machine learning and AI which I think transform the way we do customer service. People worry about these changes coming in and killing jobs – the reality is, it will change sectors (much like the industrial revolution did). But we can’t fight it, we should embrace and leverage it.
9. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?
b) Belief in our vision
c) Tenacity – one of things that is so unique about working at a startup is that you have this opportunity trailblaze so I tell my team to go for it – find their passion and own it
10. And finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting out?
Understand what motivates you – if you can find that you have a shot at being successful and being happy. If you’re just thinking about the paycheck, it will only get you so far, search for the things that connect to you and who you are.