Industry Insights: Janine Lewis, InvestSure - Startups, Fintech and Property Investment
During an inspiring session, Ms. Lewis took us through her career, as well as giving us an insight into the challenges that starting up your own company can bring.
Janine Lewis is the Founder and CEO of InvestSure, a professional investment platform bringing together a rich selection of property, land, development projects and bonds to the investment community. Prior to this Ms. Lewis has founded various other companies that she still assists as a major shareholder, as well as being a visiting Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Cass Business School.
At the age of 13, Ms. Lewis had already started setting the foundations of a strong entrepreneurial career. Her first business involved breeding Gerbils and Guppies to sell them to her local pet shop. She then went on to sell central heating devices before being the first woman to join Group 4 in their technology department, all while studying towards a Marketing qualification.
It was during her time at Estates Investment Exchange (designed to create a secondary market for real estate), where she helped the company in its early days with fundraising, marketing and operations, that she saw the need to help property developers in sourcing funding for their projects.
Following her idea, she founded InvestSure, a platform which performs due diligence on property developers and provides investors with a pool of pre-vetted projects to choose from.
Ms. Lewis, alongside explaining the principles behind InvestSure, discussed the pros and cons of creating your own business, while giving us top tips for us not to make common mistakes. The most important aspect of any successful business is that it should provide a solution to a real problem. Even more importantly, if customers are willing to pay for that solution, you then have a potentially successful business.
She also touched upon the fact that, for your venture to be sustainable in the long term, you need to make sure that people in your team live, think and work with the same ethics as you, as well as having the ability to make you laugh. As she explains it, if you aren’t able to relax and laugh with your colleagues when too much stress is involved, you won’t be able to take your business very far.
She also emphasized the fact that you sometimes also need to wait for the right timing to launch a business. For instance, launching a business in the UK with the uncertainty of Brexit right now might not be a good idea.
Ms. Lewis went on to discuss the fact that you will learn more from launching a business than from any corporate you work for. She also explained the power networking has over entrepreneurial world, by telling us that she only had one interview in her whole life. All her other ventures and deals were made through her network, stemming from random conversations on trains or through LinkedIn.
Other key learnings she provided us with range from avoiding your direct family when looking for funding, always prepare twice the budget you initially thought of for your venture, as well as having a ‘’that’ll do’’ attitude towards your operations in the first years of your business to make sure you get things done.
During the Q&A, Ms. Lewis answered questions on how the InvestSure platform is structured, how she manages to keep a good work-life balance, and how to factor your emotions in when thinking about business decisions.
The ICMA Centre and the University of Reading Finance Society thank Ms. Lewis for a very insightful and well received talk!
Emmanuel De Labauve DArifat
President of the University of Reading Investment Society Janine is CEO and Founder of InvestSure and visiting lecturer at City University and Cass Business School.
The majority of her experience is based upon being an instinctive management consultant, entrepreneur, and business driver; coaching, building and creating solutions to market problems.
Her work as a management consultant has lead her to work with such inspirational business practitioners as venture capitalist Jon Moulton (Alchemy Partners, Better Capital).
Most of her work has been focused around business optimisation and strategy. Prior to this, Janine orchestrated an MBO in the private sector and conducted numerous turnarounds in the Security sector.
As Founder and CEO of InvestSure, she has created a solution to a dysfunctional property development funding and investment market. Investors have difficulty finding good quality real estate and development opportunities and diversifying risk across their portfolios; and property developers still have issues finding reasonable funding and investment for their projects. InvestSure is a platform designed to bring all parties together to fund, invest, bid and buy real estate opportunities in a professional environment.