Alexandria Procter, Managing Director, DigsConnect

Alexandria Procter, Managing Director, DigsConnect

Alexandria Procter, Managing Director, and Board Member of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)

Tell us about your entrepreneurial background and how you got into PropTech

To be honest, it was totally by accident! I was elected to the student government as an undergrad at the University of Cape Town, and my portfolio included off-campus housing for students. Since only 5000 of UCT’s then 30,000 students had on-campus housing, this was a massive task. I was doing a semester in computer science, so I decided to knock together a little online database of verified student properties around the campus in January 2018, and well, the rest is history! It spread like wildfire and now we’re listing properties globally.”

How did you pivot DigsConnect during the Covid-19 pandemic and would you have done anything differently?

The pandemic was the hardest, and best lesson of my entrepreneurial journey. Pre-Covid it felt like it was a boomtown for startups. VC funding was flooding in and we were encouraged to just grow at all cost. Suddenly all the funding dried up and overnight we had to cut our budget by more than half, and relentlessly pursue profitability. Spending on growth and getting results feels addictive for a founder, but the pandemic taught me the importance of extreme fiscal discipline. We had to pivot our model, and thus the entire product surrounding that model, to ensure the best possible value for our users. A lot of startups are in this unit of economics “Death Valley” where it seems they might never hit profitability and are dependent on investors. We decided that revenue is the best investor.”

What should the next generation of business leaders should be thinking about in PropTech?

The two biggest trends that I’m picking up on right now are the cost-of-living crisis and sustainability. Changes in sustainability laws and policies around housing and construction opens millions of paths of opportunity for helping people adjust to these changes. Business leaders should be taking advantage of the slowness of the entrenched goliaths in the space that aren’t as flexible when it comes to changing. Move fast in the new environment!

In terms of cost of living, there are so many innovative ways in which tech can be used to help people’s housing situation mitigate the crisis. If you’re a young founder, chances are you’re also feeling the crunch. So, build the tools that you or your friends wished you already had to try to limit the damage of the cost of the living crisis.”

What does the next chapter of your journey look like?

A couple of things! You’ve actually caught me at a super exciting time. We’re still in the process of establishing ourselves in the UK market, which brings all the challenges one can imagine, being the underdogs doing global expansion on a shoestring budget! That being said, seeing a market with fresh eyes means we can spot where a lot of the gaps are, so we’ve identified two new revenue verticals we’re adding to our platform.”

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