“We want to be the go-to service for verified rental applications in Ireland” – Conor McGarry, CEO and Founder of RentDodo

By Business & Finance
17 January 2024
Pictured: Conor McGarry, CEO and founder, RentDodo. Picture by Conor McCabe Photography.

Conor McGarry is CEO and Founder of RentDodo, a proptech startup engaging with the rental process in Ireland with its flagship product, TenantCert, which aims to streamline the process for tenants and property managers.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

My role as CEO and Founder at RentDodo is to bring our platform to the market to help streamline the entire rental application process in Ireland. As a company we would like to make every stage of leasing a property or room more efficient and user-friendly, for both renters and landlords. Our goal is to get more people using our flagship feature, TenantCert, which digitises the entire rental process for tenants, landlords and letting agents.

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

I think that for me, one of the biggest challenges is navigating the rapidly changing regulatory environment in the rental sector. Each year there are new rules around renting and our platform must meet these new requirements whilst providing good service to our users.

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

From the beginning, we wanted RentDodo to be a collaborative work environment for every member of the team. I firmly believe that open communication is key to this. Everyone at RentDodo is welcome to make contributions. This helps keep our team motivated and focused. We also operate remotely, this enables employees to be based where they wish rather than within commuting distance from an office and provides them with a good work-life balance.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

I see three major challenges facing the rental sector today. Firstly, there’s the huge supply-demand imbalance that’s covered almost daily in the news. I think that the lack of suitable rental accommodation available is putting huge stress on renters looking for a home. Secondly, each year we see regulatory changes in the market which adds extra uncertainty and an administration cost for landlords. Thirdly, there’s a genuine need for technological adaptation in the sector. Many aspects of the rental journey are opaque and inefficient and technology can help solve this.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

While landlords with one or two properties make up the majority of private rental stock in Ireland, we’re seeing a rise in larger operators owning and managing entire blocs. This is a relatively new practice in Ireland which has emerged in the last decade. Another significant trend is the rise in the numbers of people who rent. This is driven by the rapid increase in the cost of home ownership, a fast growing population and a more transient, mobile workforce.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

I would like the rental industry to take more action in helping to tackle rent scammers. There’s huge pressure on tenants to source accommodation and, this in turn is allowing rent scammers to take advantage of people who are desperate to put a roof over their head. Introducing digital landlord and tenant verification is something that would help restore confidence in the rental process and help mitigate fraud in the rental sector. This issue is particularly acute in the less regulated “rent a room” space.

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

I have found that there’s a growing need for people with a blend of tech-savvy and real estate knowledge – individuals who can navigate both worlds effectively. However, with a remote working policy, we have found that hiring the right skill set has become easier as we have greater access to talent than ever before.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

As our business is very new, these crisis events pre-date RentDodo thankfully!

How has Brexit affected you?

Not really, if I’m honest. As a software business serving the domestic rental sector, we are reasonably well insulated from the negative impacts of Brexit.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?

Thankfully the pandemic has impacted us in a positive manner as COVID threw open the doors to remote working. As a new startup, we’ve been able to take advantage of this new trend. We’ve been able to keep our overheads low while attracting the right talent to help build our business.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Success for me is having a concept, building on it and seeing someone benefit from it. To me, this is really satisfying and drives me to work harder. In the broader picture, providing a service that brings a positive and permanent change to the rental sector is exciting.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Enjoy what you do. If you enjoy what you do, it’s going to be much easier to do it.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We built lots of new features on our platform to improve the entire leasing process for renters and landlords. In particular, we focused a lot on developing our tenant and landlord verification, which helps users to verify that they are dealing with genuine people. We now have four unique verifications for tenants and three for landlords, and we will continue to expand this.

What’s next for your company?

We will continue to grow the features on our platform and build our user base. One area we are focusing on in particular is room rentals. This is an area rife with issues and I believe it’s simply crying out for improvement. We have also set our eyes on new markets in Europe and will be launching our first fundraising round in 2024.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

We want to be the go-to service for verified rental applications in Ireland.

What advice would you have to others starting out in business?

In terms of advice, building a supportive team with a broad range of skills and viewpoints and realising that you cannot do everything alone is key. Secondly, I believe in continuous learning – no matter what happens, you cannot unlearn something.

What is the best book you’ve ever read (non-business) and why?

Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs & Steel and Yuval Harari’s Sapiens. Both books provide fascinating insights into human evolutionary history from multiple perspectives.

What is your favourite hobby and why?

Cooking. It’s a great way to switch off in the evening.

What is your mantra for life?

“Learning never exhausts the mind,” I think it was Leonardo Da Vinci who said it!


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