NORTHERN Ireland entrepreneur Michael Bruce, Founder and Global CEO of British estate agency Purplebricks, has revealed some of the business challenges he has faced in the latest ‘Barry Phillips Meets…’ podcast series hosted by Antrim businessman Barry Phillips, Chairman of Legal-Island.
Originally from County Antrim, Michael Bruce and his brother Kenny launched Purplebricks in 2014 - it is now one of the UK’s leading estate agencies, valued at over £868 million.
In just a few years their business has become one of the UK’s leading estate agencies. It shot to fame with its new way to sell property – combining great people with 24/7 convenient and transparent technology.
Purple Bricks charges a fixed fee to sell, which is significantly less than the fees charged by most traditional high street estate agencies.
In September 2015, the company was valued at £240 million and was floated on the Alternative Investment Market. Since then its share price has more than tripled.
Michael, his younger brother Kenny and four older sisters were brought up by their single mother in a council house in Larne in the 1970s and 80s. His first experience of work was when he was still a schoolboy doing a milk round in the morning and collecting glasses in a local pub in the evening, while his brother did the 'Coal Run'.
Michael went on to obtain a degree in law at Southampton University, and practised as a solicitor before running legal firms. He and Kenny owned a successful estate agency, Burchell Edwards, before selling the business to launch Purplebricks.
In this fascinating interview Michael Bruce says: “We didn’t want to rush to market. Many entrepreneurs think that when they’ve got a website, they’ve got a business. We spent two and a half years building the business first.”
The Purplebricks brand has been taken to Australia, the USA and Canada.. When asked what advice he would give to anyone developing a business Michael says: “Have a dream and be relentless and wise in pursuing it.”
Discussing the interview, Barry Phillips said: "My guess is that many people will never have come across Michael Bruce before but he, along with his younger brother Kenny, could turn out to be two of the most successful entrepreneurs to have come out of Northern Ireland in many decades.
"Michael’s journey is extraordinary and what he shares in this interview is absolutely fascinating. Purplebricks is now one of the largest estate agencies in the UK and the brand was recently rolled out in Australia and the USA. The company has found a unique selling point which is resonating with customers on a global scale. It is a truly inspiring local success story."
To listen to the interview with Michael Bruce via a web browser, click on www.nipodcasts.com or to listen on your phone go to ITunes or TuneIn.
Reflecting on the wider podcast series Barry Phillips said: “The “Barry Phillips Meets…” podcast series has been inspired by the Tim Ferriss and Desert Island Discs’ podcasts.
“Through informal conversations, listeners can find out more about some of Northern Ireland’s key 'change makers’ in the business and community sectors, those who are helping to shape the new Northern Ireland.”
He added: “The current stalemate at Stormont is very disheartening. However, we still have every right to feel optimistic and enthusiastic about the future in Northern Ireland when we look at the many people in the business and community sectors who are doing really exciting, innovative things.
“These are the disruptors, the influencers and the people with the energy and vision to change things here for the better. These are the people who will go around Stormont if necessary to make the changes we need. Creative thinking is essential and Northern Ireland's entrepreneurs, businesses and community sector has an abundance of that."
In addition to the interview with Michael Bruce, the podcast series has featured interviews with Judith Gillespie, Sarah Travers, Gary McCausland, Bill Wolsey, Niall McKeown, Gavan Wall, Richard Wigley, June Burgess, Mary McKenna MBE, Martin Gilchrist, David Gavaghan, Tina McKenzie and Sheree Atcheson.
“All of the interviewees share their own personal experiences, which are often frank and informative,” Barry said.
“They have strong and sometimes controversial messages, but above all they have a big vision for the future of Northern Ireland.”
The “Barry Phillips Meets…” podcasts are free to access and open to everyone. To find out more about the twice-monthly podcast go to www.NIpodcasts.com