Interview with Semsettin Karahan, founder of Zanoply
Learn how entrepreneurial spirit will allow your business to thrive, as your passion means you will speak about it to as many people as you can. Semsettin hit the ground running in his business, and as he approaches the 12-month mark, he certainly has reached all of his business milestones.
Industry: Property and Architecture
Time trading: 12 Months this October
Full name and age: Semsettin Karahan BA (Hons), 24 years' old
Zanoply is an architecture brand that has helped property investors increase their net worth with smart acquisitions, award-winning design and a seamless delivery process.
1) Hello Semsettin, welcome to Introvert Thought's business spotlight. Can you tell the readers a little about your background. How you started doing what you are doing now, and your journey.
When I graduated from the Oxford School of Architecture at the age of 22, I secured my first private planning permission for a residential flat conversion. A year later I became the youngest designer to build a new home in London. I then went on to work for the top London architects as a designer and an associate director. I invested the breadth of experience I gained into Zanoply, as a solution to the inefficiencies in our industry.
2) Tell us what it was like in the first week or two of starting your own business?
In the first week, we already had 2 clients and by the end of that month, our infrastructure was in place from communication to project delivery. We have been growing rapidly month on month and now that we are in the one-year milestone, we are progressing onto the next phase of our expansion plan.
3) How did you fund your business idea?
I bootstrapped £300 and a decade worth of contacts, skills and experience within the architecture industry to create Zanoply.
This has allowed me to be resourceful, creative and sustainably grow our company. Fortunately, I did not have to accept debt from a bank, friends or family as we were profitable within a month of business.
The common misconception is that an investment will guarantee you success which is far from the truth.A sustainable start-up is built on sweat equity which allows you to create deep-rooted solutions that will last longer than using cash to temporarily plug a leak.
4) Is there anyone who gave you a lot of support throughout the past 12 months?
I would highly recommend reaching out to your social circle for a helping hand, social media awareness and sales referrals, however, it is important to remember that this is only a short term provision to help you transition into to next phase of building an independent company.
I did not personally reach out to friends and family as we were profitable within the first month of business and were able to source top talent within the UK to join our mission in becoming the market leading brand within our industry.
4) How did you got your first few clients? Any tips for our business readers on how to attain new business?
When I was at university, I met my first client who was my landlord of 2 years. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with him on 6 developments and will be travelling back to Oxford this weekend to discuss our next property. Two months after meeting my landlord, I decided to get a haircut from a new barber based in North London and one conversation later we were commissioned to convert a beautiful Georgian town house into 5 units. We have since built a loyal client base across London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Oxford.
The goal is to always add value into a client's process. You have to be absolutely confident that your product will be the best fit for that project, otherwise, recommend them to someone else who can. I focus on building long-term relationships because it allows us to truly understand a client’s preferences from communication to financial goals for their children. I am proud of the relationships we have built within just 12 months and especially helping at least 2 landlords become multi-millionaire property investors.
5) Tips on how to make it past the 12 months mark ?
Be nimble, lean, resourceful and creative in proposing smart solutions. The common mistake most startups make is that they use investor-pounds to early to buy solutions as opposed to working towards them. If I had to define the first 12 months in two words it would be sweat equity.
The first year is a highly fulfilling journey to learn, grow and develop your company with your team and the feedback from your existing client base.
7) Give our reader's some advice you wish you had when you started?
Stop making a sale and start building a relationship. We are constantly creating new initiatives for each individual client subject to their pace and guide them at every corner within their development process, as we highly appreciate their on-going business.