Interview With David Cummin CTO of Arthur Online

David Cummin is the main developer at Arthur Online; he focused on the software development side of the business when it launched, and he has been leading the effort to make Arthur Online’s app effective and easy to use. An experienced long-standing entrepreneur, David has championed a number of successful start-ups with a particular focus on the property and health & fitness sectors.

David has over 30 years’ experience designing, building and delivering technology to the business and consumer markets, previously applying his software developing skills in the healthcare industry, before moving into the property market. In the early 1990s David started investing in property and became joint founder of his own residential property letting agency, with properties in Central and North West London.

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How Did You Get into Property?

DC. My own background was in software development and I worked in the Health and Fitness industry. I actually got into property through my wife who started out working in lettings and then set up her own lettings agency, and I wrote some software for lettings, which was my first involvement in the industry. My wife and I started our own small portfolio in the late eighties, which she managed.

At that time, the opportunity for investment and the return offered were exceptionally good, and it made sense to be in the market for that. Then in the 2000s, I took advantage of the dotcom boom, I sold my business, and with the proceeds I invested in property and expanded our portfolio.

Where Did the Idea For Arthur Online Start?

DC. It was a solution created by the tedious problem of property management. I remember I was at a festive party, which by coincidence Marc and Rochelle where there too, and we found ourselves bogged down by dealing with tenant issues instead of enjoying the party. It was there Marc and I had the first ideas about developing Arthur Online, and actually thrashed out the basic flow of the business.

And That Was When You Decided to Make it into a Business?

It started out as a personal solution, although when we saw how well it worked for us, we realised what potential it had as a business. The other co-founders and myself had a really good skill set to take things forward, Marc is a big property developer with loads of experience in the industry, Rochelle has incredible financial acumen as an investment banker, and my strength is writing software and then getting it market.

What’s Arthur Online’s Unique Selling Point From a Technology Standpoint?

DC. My idea was that it was supposed to be an on-the-go and complete solution for landlords and property owners, so that wherever you are in the world, and you get an issue that comes through, you have the means to deal with it all in one place on your phone. Whether it was sending the client a receipt, arranging for the boiler to be serviced, everything could be dealt with on one single platform.

One of the greatest annoyances of property management if you own several properties, is that you are likely to be dealing with turnover quite frequently, and tenants have so many questions and some of them can’t always be answered immediately. Arthur Online dealt with that and provided everything in one place and always have it in front of you when you need it.

How Much Does Technology Impact Property Management in Arthur Online?

DC. Technology is a great facilitator. So with Arthur Online, if a landlord gets a notified of a problem from a tenant, using the software, they can put them in touch with the appropriate contractor directly, streamlining everything. That means that landlords manage, rather than running around doing everything, trying to tie everything together.

Technology is not only a way to get things done quicker, but it also means enhanced communication.  When a contractor is notified of a job, tenants can keep track of everything on their own dedicated app, so they know when the contractor will be coming to carry out repairs, simplifying everyone’s lives; the landlord isn’t in the middle having to chase up the contractor, the tenant has peace of mind knowing their problem is being taken care of, and the contractor knows exactly what they are doing.

How Big of an Impact Did Arthur Online Have on Your Own Portfolio?

DC. Put it this way, before Arthur Online so much of my time was taken up by tenant issues. Now I spend more time on Arthur Online, its solved so many problems for me and the other co-founders, and it can be a solution for everyone else to save time and maximise efficiency.

What’s the Future for Arthur Online?

DC. Arthur is a living product, it’s constantly improving and adding new features to it, and I think the possibilities are endless. I really am passionate about this, as someone who is in technology, I haven’t felt as excitement like this since the dotcom years. I really believe that Arthur is a fantastic product and it can change property management.