“Some of my first deals were done while sitting on the back of a horse” — 60 seconds with Robert Hoban of Offr

60 Seconds With, Interviews, Thought Leadership | Tue 22 Feb | Author – Business & Finance
Robert Hoban of Offr
Pictured: Robert Hoban, CEO and Founder, Offr

Robert Hoban, CEO and Founder at Offr, started out with just a single hot-desk for €200 per month in Dogpatch Labs to sketch out his idea. Offr has now signed up some of the world’s biggest names in property as customers, and Robert opened Offr’s London office on the 22nd floor of The Shard, the tallest and most iconic building in the UK. 

What was your first job? 

I started working as a 22 year-old negotiator in the Country Homes department of Hamilton Osborne King (HOK), which later became Savills. I sold everything from cottages and stud farms to Ireland’s finest stately homes and castles. Some of my first deals were done while sitting on the back of a horse!

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

As a young lad, I was always interested in horses, property, and farming, and the role was a combination of all three. I also had a deep interest in architecture and history of art, so I loved researching the history of Ireland’s built environment. My two brothers own an architect’s practice in London and our ancestor, James Hoban, designed and built the White House in Washington DC; so you could say it’s in the blood.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

It was probably taking the plunge by walking away from a well-paid career in auctioneering to go down the tech start-up route, with no safety net. Thankfully, it is working out, but there are never any guarantees in the high risk world of start-ups and tech investment. I couldn’t have done it without the experience gained while working in Savills, Allsop and Bidx1.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

I wish I had started a small business of my own in my twenties, even if it was only in my spare time. It didn’t need to be successful either. I realise now that there is so much to learn by starting and growing a business, and it opens your eyes to the wider world. Years later, when combined with industry experience, it would make a good recipe for success.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

I think success in business or in life is defined similarly: reaching a state whereby you feel contentment and happiness, including helping to generate happiness for those who depend on you. This will be different for everyone. I can’t say I’ve got there just yet!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t complain. If you can influence change then go ahead and right the wrong. If you can’t, then there is no point in complaining about it. My dad told me that. I think his point was to avoid obsessing over the things you cannot possibly alter and spend your valuable time and efforts on those things that matter.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I try to understand what their career and personal goals are, and make sure we are in a position to help fulfil them. It will be different for everyone. I’d hate to think anyone is just punching time on the clock. There needs to be an end goal, and a way of enjoying getting there. If a staff member leaves because there is something more suited to their personal or career needs, I don’t get offended, I’d rather help and encourage them in their career.

How do you handle adversity? 

I am naturally a laid back person, so I tend to just take it on the chin and not overreact. I think it’s important to remember that in the grand scheme of things, whatever issue in front of you looks insurmountable, is probably not that important. If it is something you can influence, then quietly go about fixing it, but if you can’t — then it is what it is.

How do you relax?

I love horses and art. In particular the genre of hyper-realism, so I will often sit down for 3 or 4 hours, switch off and prepare a detailed still life or animal portrait. I do pieces for close friends and family but that’s about the extent of it. I also like to ride horses in the countryside near where I live or go for a gallop on the beach.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

Our goal is for Offr to become the world’s number one transaction technology and marketplace for real estate. Like Shopify or Amazon for property, we want to help professionals around the world to let their customers digitally buy, sell or rent property from them, at the tap of a button. Technology has already transformed the industries of banking, retail and travel. Property is next.