Anshul Ruparell left the banking business to follow in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps. His startup, Properly, is revolutionizing the art of real estate transactions and racking up millions in venture capital.
When I graduated from Ivey Business School in 2010, I did what all my classmates were doing: I got a job at an investment bank. I spent two years as an analyst at Merrill Lynch, where I used to work 70-100 hours a week. Once, I put in two nights in a row to prepare for a performance. I didn’t leave the office for three days, not even to go home and shower. At the meeting, I fell asleep. My heart was not at work. I left the bank and spent three years in private equity. I soon realized that I wanted to build my own business. So I decided to get my MBA from Columbia University.
In the summer of 2016, between my freshman and sophomore years in business school, I met entrepreneur Fabrice Grinda while lecturing at Columbia. He had scaled up and sold a couple of multi-million dollar companies and now runs a venture capital firm called FJ Laboratories, which was one of the first investors in Alibaba and Airbnb. I told Fabrice about one of my first business ideas: a market where restaurants could rent their space to people who want to host events outside of business hours. He said, “Listen, I think you’re very smart. But that’s a terrible idea. Why don’t you come work for me instead?
And that’s how I became a core member of the FJ Labs investment team. During my years there, I spent a lot of time thinking about real estate. My family lives in Calgary, and in 2014, when oil prices fell, the city went through a recession. He had relatives who wanted to sell their houses but couldn’t find buyers.
This sparked the idea of Adequately, a company that could streamline the process for sellers by buying a property from them outright. FJ Labs led an initial round of $ 3.6 million, which helped me start the company. Here’s how it worked: A customer who wanted to sell their home would visit our website and enter information about the property, which we would run through an algorithm to predict its value on the open market. We would buy the home from the client for cash for that price, less a five percent broker fee. Then we would prepare it for sale and put it on the market. If we sell the house for more than we are quoting the owner, we will refund that money. If the house sold for less, we would eat the costs.
“We came up with the idea for a new service called ‘sale guarantee,’ which allows people to unlock the equity in their old home before it is sold.”
We started in Calgary because I knew the market there. My co-founder, Sheldon McCormick, and I crashed on my parents’ couch while boosting the business. We called the people who listed their houses in Kijiji and tried to convince them to sell their house with us. We had many doors closed in our faces. But in the end it worked. We bought our first home for $ 600,000 and sold it for the same amount. Within a year, 20 percent of Calgary sellers would come to us before putting their homes on the market. Soon after, we raised $ 12 million in Series A financing, most of which came from a fund called Prudence.
When the pandemic hit, we paused; we did not know what changes were coming in the market and how long they were going to last. In August 2020, we closed our Calgary office and focused all our energy on building a new business in Toronto. We started offering something we call a “sale guarantee,” which allows people to unlock the equity in their old home before it is sold. That way, they can buy their dream home as soon as they find it and avoid the listing process. In two months, we equated our revenue with the old business model. Since then, we have been growing 100% every two months. We just closed our Series B funding round, raising $ 44 million led by Bain Capital. From here, the plan is to make Properly an end-to-end partner for Canadians in every major city in the country. Despite the success I’ve had so far, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.