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Sun 28 Oct 2018 12:12 PM

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Entrepreneur of the week: Mintaga's Stuart Quinn

The platform allows users to post independent reviews of properties to create an unbiased community for tenants, landlords and agents

Entrepreneur of the week: Mintaga's Stuart Quinn
Stuart Quinn says Mintaga hosts honest feedback from real people

Their aim is to build the TripAdvisor of the real estate world. Together, Stuart Quinn, Josh Tetteh Lartey and Steve Cornish co-founded Mintaga, a properties website which lists unbiased customer reviews of residences.

The idea, which is named after the Arabic word for ‘area’, came when the co-founders were “losing” their minds during the process of looking for housing. Quinn, managing director, tells Arabian Business his dream is to expand Mintaga to all corners of the world.

Where did the idea for Mintaga come from?
We were literally losing our minds when going through the process of looking for an apartment, so it was a “wouldn’t that be a good idea” moment for us.

Why does the market need a platform like Mintaga?
Relocating or moving homes is one of the most stressful things one goes through, regardless of whether you’re single or have a family. We just want to try and make it easier for people to move residences. The idea is to help everyone build a better community while benefitting tenants, landlords, agents and housing associations along the way.

Since the reviews posted on your website are independent and not controlled by you, do they pose a challenge in terms of monetising the platform and luring in advertisers?

The market is cluttered with “redefining living” slogans and agenda-based content. This is honest feedback from real people. You can take it or leave it. We believe the internet monitors itself well when it comes to these things. TripAdvisor is a great example.

What are some of your biggest challenges at the moment?
The brand. Since the entire team works in the branding and digital industry, we are our own worst client. The technology is another big challenge, as there are so many things to cover when you look at a ratings algorithm.

We have trialled it a few times to try and get it right, though I’m sure we’ll constantly be adapting. The database has been a challenge too. Sometimes, areas are not all categorised the same way.

How is Mintaga funded, and how difficult was it to attract funding for the concept?
Someone once told me that it takes seven “no’s” to get a yes. That person has never tried to get funding for a website concept. We were turned away by so many people who said, “It’s a great idea. We just need proof of concept.” You need bulletproof skin and blind persistence to have hope.

We are very lucky to have the backing of an investment fund that really believed in what we were trying to do. They took a huge chance and we can’t thank them enough.

What is your growth rate at the moment?
We are at the start of our journey. With the support we have, we hope to get the product right before we have to make it pay for itself. When we launch our ad platform, the site will not look anything like it does now.

We will have to adapt. However, the clock is ticking and we need to repay the faith that the investors have had in us from the start.

What are your expansion plans for Mintaga and by when do you expect to actually fulfil them?
The scalability of Mintaga is interesting. We can take this to other cities around the world and apply it with very little changes. That’s the dream. Currently, we want to complete the Dubai leg and get the rest of the UAE on board.

We also want to launch an advertising platform which is in line with what Google and Facebook are doing, which is basically setting the standards.

What is your ultimate vision for the firm? Where and what do you see it growing into?
If we could produce something that people find genuinely useful, then we will have fulfilled our goal (as cheesy as that sounds). We love the internet, but we think it’s lost its way a little; the way people’s data is used and the pressure it puts on people –social media is a great example of that.

Let’s get back to using this amazing technology for good things: making our non-virtual worlds better. If it becomes commercially successful too, then I won’t complain.

Was there ever a time when you felt like giving up?
This morning! Luckily, I have a wealth of motivational social media influencers to fall back on! Being belligerent is probably the honest answer. Doing the same thing over and over again is considered madness. Try it and break the norm. As a team, we doubt ourselves every day, but I personally think that’s healthy.

What are some trends in the current property market that you have noticed through your users’ feedback?
Authenticity. The platforms that are out there are becoming more streamlined to ensure this, but we are approaching authenticity from a different angle. Mintaga does not want to sell/rent you an apartment. It wants to help you make a better decision.

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