Founder Series - David Goldberg, CEO & Founder of POD Management
I’m the founder and CEO of POD Management, one of the UK’s fastest growing residential property management companies. Just under five years ago I took the leap and set up my own company in a sector which I have been a part of for over 15 years. Fast forward to today POD has been appointed as the property/estate manager for some of the largest and most prestigious #residential schemes in Southeast England.
We manage buildings and our focus is to make the experience exceptional. Through our dedicated and meticulous team of experts, we make the invisible visible, using data from our bespoke systems to better manage buildings.
The business now has over 120 staff managing sites across the southeast, on buildings in the built for sale, built for rent and commercial sectors. We currently manage over 8,500 homes with a further pipeline of 5,500 units secured to come onboard.
2. What was your motivation behind raising investment to build POD Management?
I was lucky enough to be introduced to Spire Ventures through a business transaction I was working on at a previous company. I had been thinking about starting my own business for some time, as I felt there was a need to build a company where the customer was at the forefront of everything we do and that included leveraging technology to make the experience exceptional.
The decision to take the plunge was a difficult one as it was, of course, quite daunting to take such a leap of faith. In discussing the opportunity with Faisal Butt and Veer Mehta, I realised I would have an investment partner that would support me in the process with both capital, expertise, and connections within the wider property community, so it made that ultimate decision less daunting.
And, while I felt I could probably have a go at it myself, I came to the realisation that if I wanted to scale the business, I would need to leverage that expertise to help me attract talent that would allow the business to grow at a faster rate than going it alone. In addition, it was helpful to have the guidance from seasoned investors in scaling the business in a way that is value accretive to all shareholders.
3. At the time what were you aspiring to achieve personally?
I wanted autonomy over the direction of the business (typical entrepreneur mindset that I felt I could do it better!) but also the timing was right for me. Having spent, at the time, 15 years in the industry, I knew I was not at my happiest working for someone else, where the vision and culture were not aligned to what I felt was needed in the industry, so the only way to fix that was to put my faith in my own abilities and capitalise on the opportunity.
I knew I could do it, however given we were building a new business in an industry where scale and track-record is paramount to securing instructions, there were elements of uncertainty and risk that partnering with a strategic investor could alleviate. Being around others who have been there and done it, I quickly realised it was not as daunting as it might first seem. Yes, you need a leap of faith but ultimately, I wanted to be happy in what I did and build a business I could be proud of. And there is no point denying it, creating wealth for myself was also a driver, as I had helped so many other firms achieve success that for once, I wanted to directly benefit from it!
4. How do you compare where you and your business are now versus what you had in mind prior to setting up the business?
We are in a different place to where I had envisaged although the vision and culture is exactly where I wanted it to be. I think that is because no one can really help you truly visualise how and what the business will look like, and all you can see is the immediate future. That said, you must keep one eye on the future otherwise you won’t get there.
The type of buildings we are managing and the clients we are working with are beyond my initial expectations, and that is down to the team that I have built around me, alongside my co-founder Ryan Collier. As the business has grown and attracted talent, the business plan is taking-off in sectors which were outside my initial focus, which has been a game changer in terms of value creation.
5. What are some of the biggest milestones you have achieved in the business?
There are so many. The obvious ones, like winning your first instruction and turning a profit, are of course important. I think successfully competing with the big players (who have been around for 20+ years) in the market on tenders for some of the largest and most prestigious schemes was a fantastic feeling. It was a mark of what we had achieved in such a short period of time.
6. What is your proudest achievement within the business as a Founder?
Watching others continue what I started without interference. You know you have a built a great team, and that you have managed to convey your vision properly, when others implement initiatives, improvement, and employment as you yourself might expect. And finally finding the time to get out and play golf again 😊
7. What are they key challenges you faced in the business and how would you advise future Founders in preventing and/or tackling these issues?
Recruiting the right people and making decisions quickly. Everyone knows that a successful business only happens with a team effort, so without great people working alongside you, you will not succeed. That, of course, is easier said than done. So, my advice is recruit on values, not skills or performance and if you think you have made a mistake in recruitment, act fast. Don’t procrastinate because you are worried about the financial or customer impact, or that you might have to take on more work once they depart – employing the wrong people impacts you in ways you can’t expect, and your clients will probably appreciate you for making the change.
Also, growing a business at scale and with pace, it can become difficult to maintain profitability. You must find a balanced approach to investing for the future but also maintaining a healthy growth in the bottom line. As an entrepreneur you must find innovative ways to maximise your resources and prioritise the opportunities which matter the most, rather than spreading yourself too thin (sometimes you must let opportunities go to focus on the bigger picture).
Finally, and it’s a cliché of course, but nothing every goes exactly as planned, so even your best laid plans must be adjusted if you are to succeed. I had a belief that the market wanted one thing and I quickly realised that they didn’t, so we had to adapt. It’s that dynamism and adaptability that is so important if you want to be a successful #Founder & #CEO and meet the needs of your clients.
8. How have you developed as an individual?
What I have learned about business and the mechanics of how businesses work in such a short space of time amazes me. I find it fascinating, and I’ve realised that if you want to succeed at business, you must constantly improve, especially through self-learning. By understanding how others think and react to situations gives you great insight that help you make better decisions as a CEO. Learning to reflect, analyse and reframe difficult situations helps you understand what others might be thinking, so you can better handle whatever comes next (which is probably never quite as you might first think).
9. How has being part of the Spire platform and raising investment helped you achieve your ambition and perhaps step-changed what is achievable?
It helped me de-risk the personal sacrifice taking such a bold decision brings, that’s for sure. If you want to be an entrepreneur you will have to take risks, but making calculated risks is what is important and having a sounding board to bounce ideas off has been helpful. Having people around you who have experience and understanding of what you are going through makes the journey more manageable (and enjoyable). Another key aspect is being part of a wider platform with other founders and businesses, which has enabled me to leverage on the brand in client pitches as well as recruit an all-star team looking to be part of a bigger journey than other #propertymanagement businesses. All in all, it helped me take my business further than my initial expectations in terms of scale and value.
10. Where do you aim to go from here?
Onwards and upwards. Yes, being happy and healthy is a fundamental bedrock of anyone’s life ambition but ultimately, I want the business to keep growing, to keep doing amazing things and to keep making me proud of all that we have achieved.
11. What would you say to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to set up their own business venture?
What are you waiting for?
Anyone can have an idea but executing on it will define whether it’s a success. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun and its extremely hard work, but if it were the opposite, everyone would be doing it. It takes a special sort of person to make the emotional and financial commitment and that’s what makes it so rewarding.