Breaking through the property industry
Starting a business which defies the way your competitors and industry at large operate is a brave undertaking. But that’s exactly what DeVono Property founder Robert Leigh and his co directors Adam Landau and Luke Philpott did.
The London commercial property market is dominated by a myriad of established companies, some of which have been operating for more than 100 years. For companies looking for office space to rent in the capital the normal course of action is to get in touch with an agent who will offer them a selection of offices they represent.
Leigh, who was operating as a commercial property agent, took umbrage with this age-old system which seemed unfair to prospective tenants. These agents were only representing the interest of the landlords and not tenants. This posed a conflict of interest, which made Leigh realise that there had to be a market for an agency which represented the interest of the tenant and would fight to get them the most favourable rent terms.
Operating out of a Mayfair Basement, Leigh started DeVono and realised his model would work when he paid back a 40k bank loan within six months. It didn’t come without its challenges. Leigh who was joined by co-director Adam Landau faced a fair amount of opposition from the industry that didn’t look favourably on their unconventional style of business. They persevered, grew, were joined by another talented commercial property agent, Luke Philpott who shared their desire for ‘no conflict’ tenant representation.
To date, DeVono has been London’s no 1 office finder for five years in a row. This means they have acquired more offices for companies moving into the capital than any other commercial property company. Set to turnover 3million in their ninth year of business and with a team of 20, they expanded the business to offer a full range of services associated to moving office. From arranging fit out they also negotiate building sales (which is no easy feat in the Capital) and have recently launched a retail division, applying the same model of ‘no conflict’ representation for retailers looking to expand in the capital.
Despite the fact that the economic crises has hit the commercial property market hard, with recent reports suggesting no growth outside of the Capital, Leigh believes the model of DeVono can work in other regional cities and has sights set on a possible expansion model.
On starting an industry-defiant business, DeVono’s Adam Landau top tips include:
? Take on board adversity but don’t let it hamper confidence.
? Be open to advice from peers and successful businesspeople – don’t presume you know it all because you never will. Soundboarding with successful people will always help.
? Have the ability to change direction if need be
? Speed is key. If you spot a gap, act quickly. Otherwise you will loose your market position.
DeVono's Co-Directors left to right: Adam Landau, 33, Robert Leigh, 32, and Luke Philpott, 31.
Find out more at www.devono.com / 0207 0969911