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Alistair Malins of Holiday Crowd

Holiday Crowd

Today we have Alistair Malins of Holiday Crowd talking to us.

Holiday Crowd is a smart investment in holiday property.

Our questions are in bold.

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Who are you and what’s your background?
I started off my career as a corporate lawyer in a Magic Circle law firm. Following qualification, I moved into investment banking and worked on numerous deals in the real estate, travel & leisure and technology sectors. During that time I helped companies raise in aggregate over $1bn in funding whilst working with some of the top global private equity funds. After a year out working at a travel start-up, I knew I eventually wanted to run my own business and had the idea for Holiday Crowd whilst living and working in San Francisco.

I’m joined on the team by two fellow Oxford graduates. Richard Bond is a former e-commerce entrepreneur and CMO for the business, and software engineer, Diego Granziol, who is currently completing a PhD in machine learning at Oxford University.

What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
As CEO of a young, agile startup, my days are pretty varied as I’m currently involved in most parts of the business, from managing the website to getting our first properties onto the market.

Alistair Malins of Holiday Crowd
Alistair Malins of Holiday Crowd

Having just launched, we’re currently looking to expand the portfolio of holiday properties available to our investors. This means I’m spending a lot of time working with our team to hand pick the next properties to add to the platform. We use booking data, combined with property valuation estimates to target the properties and locations with the best potential for bookings and price appreciation.

Our partnership with Sykes Cottages means we’re working very closely with the team there to make sure our holiday properties meet the highest letting standards. We’re also looking to introduce some cool features, such as a tablet guide to each of the homes, which guests can access on arrival.

Can you give us an overview of your business?
We’re taking a fresh approach to investment in the holiday property space by breaking down the barriers to entry to the market. We handpick property investments using over 25 years of experience in the market as well as cutting-edge technology to identify the best locations to invest.

We enable investors to pool resources to co-invest in one of these properties and we manage this process from start to finish, acquiring the property on behalf of our investors. The investment is made via a company specifically set up for the transaction.

We’ve partnered with one of the UK’s largest independent holiday cottage booking agencies, Sykes Cottages, in order to ensure a high level of bookings and maximise the potential rental income from the property.

Investors receive an annual dividend paid from the rental income net of fees and costs. They are also able to offer their shares for sale to realise any gain in value based on the capital appreciation of the underlying property.

Tell us how you are funded.
We’re a privately owned limited company, backed by Angel investors from the technology, real estate and travel & leisure industries.

Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
I started the company to help people invest in holiday property by breaking down the barriers to entry to the market. Most investors lack the experience of where to invest, what type of property to buy and crucially the financial resources to buy a property on their own.

We want to open up the holiday property market to a new investor base. We remove 100% of the hassle of owning and running a holiday property allowing investors to sit back and enjoy their investment. Our customers are able to save money on discounted holidays in our portfolio of properties whilst generating the long-term pension-like returns from investing in holiday property.

Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Our customers are typically long-term investors looking for a low-risk, inflation-proof investment. Holiday property has traditionally been a long-term store of value offering pension-like returns, however until now it has only been accessible to investors with relatively large financial resources at their disposal. We want to provide investors with a quick, reliable and easy way of investing in this market without the need for a substantial capital outlay.

Our revenue model is simple. We charge a 5.0% one-off fee on any initial investment amount for sourcing the property and arranging the transaction. In addition, we charge 5.0% out of the gross rental income per annum to cover on going management costs, removing any of the hassle associated with ownership.

The Holiday Crowd website
The Holiday Crowd website

If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
Remove paperwork. In this day and age I’m surprised by how many transactions still require a printer and scanner.

What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
I believe the big players need to invest more in early stage businesses, which is where a lot of the talent is migrating. We’ve seen some amazing success stories over the past decade and I’m confident there are still many more out there, however to succeed this new generation of start-ups will need the right support from the start.

What phone are you carrying and why?
I use an iPhone 7. I’m on the move a lot so I use a lot of apps to keep up with breaking news as well as emails on the go.

Where do you get your industry news from?
My go-to websites are: Tech Crunch, CB Insights, The Fintech Times, Tech City News.

Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
Eileen Burbidge (@eileentso) – a partner at Passion Capital and an avid investor in Fintech startups.

Russ Shaw (@russshaw1) – founder of Tech London Advocates and one of the most connected sources for news on the London Fintech market.

Richard Goold (@gooldrichard) – as Global Head of Tech Law at Ernst & Young and inaugral member of the Fintech 40 he’s a top deal-maker and commentator on the industry.

What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
BenBen is a really exciting startup, revolutionising real estate transaction verification in Ghana using blockchain technology. BenBen is changing the way in which land title is registered, allowing the creation of digital records that are secure, transparent and easily accessible.

Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
Artificial Intelligence – we’re really excited about the potential from using machine learning to improve human decision-making processes. We believe this will be the next real game changer in real estate investment and are working with top class engineering talent to bring this to fruition.

Blockchain in real estate – built on the principles drawn from cryptography and peer-to-peer networking it provides a mechanism to verify payments, increasing transparency, reducing fraud and speeding up transaction processes. The biggest impact for real estate will be in emerging markets that lack digital transaction records.

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Thanks to Alistair for his answers today. You can find out more about Holiday Crowd on their website, twitter, facebook and instagram.

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Ewan is Founder and Editor of FinTech Profile and Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of mobile and FinTech industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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