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Alumna and founder of FutureBricks Arya Taware is on a mission to democratise investing in property.
Arya Taware is a graduate of the Urban Planning, Design and Management BSc at The Bartlett School of Planning. In 2015, She founded FutureBricks, which allows ordinary people to invest in construction projects that might otherwise struggle to find funding.
The idea came to me when I was working for a small housebuilder in London Bridge in 2013. Our job was to look for sites and appraise them. We would find a number of good quality sites, but the developer was unable to get financing from banks at the time.
This was largely due to the 2008 financial crisis, which has had a ripple effect and affected the UK housing sector in various ways – for example, mainstream banks were reluctant to lend to housing projects below £5 million. At the same time, I was fed up with my money sitting in the bank and not earning any interest.
In late 2015, I decided to solve both problems: if small and medium-sized housebuilders could get access to finance and if people like you and me could invest in these fully-vetted, secure projects from as little as £500, then it’s a win-win solution from both sides. That’s how FutureBricks was born.
We went live with the platform in March 2018 ... We’re open to investors in 109 countries and we have a community of over 300 lenders.”
I had to build everything from scratch, including the team and the technology. I also had to raise equity since this is a business that requires a lot of capital up-front. Even before you start trading you have to get the regulatory permissions in place. There’s also the responsibility of finding the right team that understands the logistics behind property development and who have the right skills, including due diligence and underwriting.
We raised almost half a million in seed funding, and went live with the platform in March 2018. Since then, we have successfully funded a project in Wimbledon, we’re open to investors in 109 countries and we have a community of over 300 lenders.
We believe FutureBricks is indirectly solving the housing crisis.”
They had a lot of practical projects and offered hands-on experience of being on the ground and looking at how planning works. The real estate module was very useful as it taught us to appraise development projects. A lot of research I read about the reasons for the housing crisis inspired me.
More particularly, having looked at the lack of access for SME housebuilders and the shortage of permissible land has influenced my current work. The government is working on the latter, while we are focusing on the former.
Our mission is to democratise investing in property, making it as accessible to as many people as possible. We believe FutureBricks is indirectly solving the housing crisis. Ultimately, we want to encourage local people to invest in local projects, creating an environment that doesn’t solely rely on institutional money to get the go-ahead.
The School of Planning is one of the leading research-led planning schools in Europe, offering a creative and stimulating environment to study the form, planning, design and management of cities, and to shape their future. It is part of The Bartlett, UCL's Faculty of the Built Environment. Find out more: https://ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/planning
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