In this episode, Legislate meets Michael Wadsworth, Founder and CEO of Adoor, a software platform for everyone to track, update and understand the progress of their house move. Listen to the episode to learn:
Listen to the episode:
Learn more about Adoor
Learn more about Legislate
And the legal risks every early-stage startup founder should be aware of
How to increase your media coverage with automation
And why you should always tailor your contracts
Charles Brecque: Michael, thank you for taking the time. Would you like to please introduce yourself?
Michael Wadsworth: Hi, Charles and hi, everybody. Yes. My name's Michael, I'm founder of Adoor. And, yes, just thanks for the time today. We started Adoor about 2 years ago, really from a personal experience of being a first time buyer and trying to understand what's going on and why. And as we were going through that process a question that came up is, 'Why can't we track it online?' We're bothering our estate agent and conveyancer with questions that I know they probably answer multiple times a day and it really boiled down to why is it easier to track your Deliveroo than your house move? You can see the little guy on his bike riding towards you but one of the most expensive things you're ever going to buy, it can be quite difficult to see where you are. Yes. We've really built Adoor to help buyers and sellers understand what's going on and why and see where they are in the process. But also for conveyancers, for property lawyers. They're handling so many enquiries. It's to reduce the number of enquiries but also see and keep their clients updated on the progress of their cases. And, likewise, for estate agents. It's about them being able to see the progress. Once they've agreed the sale it's with the property lawyers to update and so it's really for them to have somewhere to track the progress. And by bringing everybody into this central place in Adoor everyone's on the same page, everybody. You can see the progress of the chain and you can see where everybody is and update everybody instantly on Adoor. So, it is this real central source of truth for their house move.
Charles Brecque: Based on the data that you have, and your platform, where do you typically see bottlenecks?
Michael Wadsworth: It's within the communication process I think. There is the time taken to update everybody in the chain. Especially if you are at the bottom of the chain, for example, and you're looking to understand where everyone else is, the property lawyers or the sales progressors within an estate agent will ask up the chain of how everyone else is progressing and where they are. And so, waiting for that information to come up and back down the chain and, potentially, how information may not be passed on exactly as it was passed on to them, there is a degradation of information. So, by having this platform, the service is there for you, you're not maintaining it. What you're doing, as a conveyancer and an estate agent, is updating your stage, your status, of the transaction you're working on for everyone else to see. So, yes, I think communication and the time taken is really a key bottleneck. Yes. That's the key area there. And I think how Adoor does that, like I say, by tracking the chain, by connecting everybody in the same place, it really does eliminate any of that need for emails or calls. Other than for the more meaningful conversations around a particular enquiry or if you were talking about a boundary dispute or something, for example, or, yes, something like that.
Charles Brecque: Since starting Adoor, what's been your favourite moment?
Michael Wadsworth: I think launching the platform was huge. I think actually seeing it, actually logging on or meeting somebody and going, 'Hey, look, go to app.adoor.co.uk,' and seeing it actually out there and people using it was a huge achievement. Within 3 or 4 months having this platform that could do what we'd set out to do I think was huge. I think a few other steps, like we got accepted to the Geovation Accelerator which is backed by the OS and Land Registry which was fantastic for us to really work with the people in those organisations to refine what we're doing at Adoor. Yes. And just loads of little milestones. I think probably like yourself with Legislate, starting a business and getting it off the ground, really all of those hard-fought conversations or partnerships or, yes, all the little wins might feel incredibly difficult at the time but they all are worth it in the end.
Charles Brecque: I think it is really important to celebrate the little wins on the way because for every win there are 10 obstacles.
Michael Wadsworth: You think you've climbed a mountain and then you just see a bigger one behind it.
Charles Brecque: What do you wish you had known before starting Adoor?
Michael Wadsworth: I think, for me, personally, I'm not as technical a founder as I'd like to be. I think I wish I had learnt about coding or at least have a foundation knowledge in technology. I was very clear on the workflows and the design of it but actually understanding frameworks, languages, how we were going to host it, maybe even the costs around it. I think having a better grasp of the technology piece. Yes. I think when we first launched the platform we used Django and Python to dig into the widgets now. And we were using another one before which really was fine, probably, until we hit 1000 users, where it wouldn't have been forever. So, I'm glad that we stopped and went, 'Okay. If we're going to scale this, what do we really need to use?'
Charles Brecque: What's the plan for the next 5, 10 years?
Michael Wadsworth: I think, for me, right now, the focus is on the house move and really expanding from there. So, right now, we're focused on conveyancing and estate agents and just branching out to mortgage brokers to track the process. But I think it's also about how can we involve further to the home owning lifecycle, from, potentially, renovations and how do you manage those? Where there are multiple stakeholders that you need to bring together to track. And really focusing on the personal world. I think there are a load of tools for the professional environment but actually if you said to-, I'm just going through planning a wedding at the minute so it's a very personal pain point for me but tracking those milestones as well. But, yes, like I say, for us, we're really focused on-, I think there's a huge opportunity in the property industry and in tracking the transaction process and if we think about, either, commercial property or block management, things like that, there are competitors in the field and we're all doing slightly different things and there's definitely space for everyone to play. And, yes, we're excited, in the here and now, for the property industry.
Charles Brecque: I feel like the title of the podcast should be how to manage your life with Adoor.
Michael Wadsworth: That'll be round 2.
Charles Brecque: What are the key contracts that you interact with?
Michael Wadsworth: I think it's a real mix in terms of the differences. Some people will just send you a PDF and you have to print and give a signature and even sometimes post it back. But there are some more forward-thinking businesses, both in personal and business life, that'll use digital signatures, e-signatures, and platforms like Legislate, where you can manage those and you can sign those. I think the e-signature piece will become more common and I think the work, especially within the property industry, on e-signatures that the HMLR and other government bodies are doing on that, I think it'll become more common and more accepted as a way. And I think even that can expedite the process if you're waiting for a signature just because you need to see them and witness it in-person. We're in a world where you can now have other ways of proving provenance and validating that, beyond, literally, me seeing you do it. And, yes, I think, in my personal experience, we've used online platforms to manage e-signatures, like using it for NDAs or commercial agreements or partnership agreements as well where we're working with other platforms. Even with clients, our client agreements as well. I think it's the way forward to be doing it electronically. Also, the faff, for want of a better phrase, in asking. If you ask a client, 'Oh, here's a PDF. Can you drag your signature into this or can you print it and send it to me?,' when we're a technology company doing those things. It would probably give me the ick. It'd give me like, 'Oh, if you're a tech company why am I signing it?' Yes. So, I think we've really tried to factor in being forward-thinking. Yes.
And I think it just gives you a way of going back and iterating on contracts. If there is feedback on a contract, doing that within a platform and managing that, I think it just helps everyone's lives. If you're scrambling around for an email, rather than being able to log in and go, 'Here's the contract. Here are the amends that James Smith asked for.' Accept, reject and feedback. Yes. I think that just, for me, is the right approach.
Charles Brecque: In my previous role, for some clients, we had to print off copies and then sign and then post the copies to them.
Michael Wadsworth: I remember in my first job, again, they were wet signatures and it had to be handed in in-person. So, they had to see me hand it to them for them to go, 'Yes, I trust that this signature is true and this document is valid.' And so, I'd have to go across the country to drop off a document, it's mad now in 2022.
Charles Brecque: I think the caveat to e-signatures is that they can make the whole process a bit obscure and it's so easy to sign that you sign without reading in most cases.
Michael Wadsworth: I think that's a really good point, in flagging that. Especially in the online world where people can click to cart and pay for it, like you say, almost without thinking about it. Some of these contracts can be significant amounts of money or you could be signing away something quite important and just signing it at speed and not thinking about it. I think you're right. You almost want to help your client by going, 'Hey, take a sec. Read it. Think about it before committing to it.'
Charles Brecque: If you were being sent a contract to sign today what would impress you?
Michael Wadsworth: I think, going on the back of that last point, being able to sign it electronically, being able to see the whole document in full and providing feedback and seeing that feedback in a single platform would be the key pieces that would really stand out for me.
Charles Brecque: It sounds like you've just described Legislate and we need to set you up.
Michael Wadsworth: Yes, I'm looking forward to it.
Charles Brecque: Perfect. Thank you very much, Michael, for taking the time and best of luck growing Adoor and managing life.