An entrepreneur is aiming to recruit 100 staff to join him in what he’s dubbed the best workplace in Wales – with Playstation consoles, a snooker table and beach away-days.
Gavin Prince is creating a new operation centre for his Verilet company in a 120-year-old Victorian mansion in Colwyn Bay.
The firm, which is presently based in Manchester’s Oxford Road and operates in the UK, New York and Brisbane, provides tenants with eligibility credit ratings so they can apply to rent a home, while protecting their application fees.
The first batch of 30 wannabe workers have been told to ditch CVs and instead will face a Cluedo-style psychometric session.
Rather than solving a murder, the job seekers will be given a complex problem to crack with the help of clues and messages – those displaying the best solution skills will be shortlisted for one of the coveted Team Verilet posts.
Property company Brymau Estate has refurbished Penrhos Manor to restore its original features, and Gavin is now developing the unique working environment for team members at Verilet’s offices.
As well as a century-old professional-standard snooker table, the offices will also boast Playstations, beanbag pods in the garden and away-days to the beach to encourage the team to think creatively.
The company’s move to Penrhos Manor is being supported by Anna Openshaw, project manager at Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID), which is aiming to revitalise the area by tempting in more companies, shoppers, visitors and investment.
Gavin, who grew up in Dwygyfylchi, also wants to help others kick-start their business careers, so the 36-year-old is planning a “hatchery” to nurture new start-ups in the stables of the Grade II listed Jacobethan-style building, which was previously a girl’s school. There will also be a hot-desking space in the old orangery, for Manchester and Merseyside businesspeople having an away-day in North Wales.
Now owned by Brymau Estates, Penrhos was originally built as a summer home for Manchester businessman David Gamble in 1894 – he named it Ratonagh after the Irish birthplace of his ancestor, one of the founders of consumer goods giant Proctor and Gamble.
Gavin, who commutes to Manchester from his home in Llandudno Junction, is inspired by millionaire entrepreneur Lawrence Jones from Denbigh of tech company UKFast.
He said: “Having the opportunity to learn from individuals such as Lawrence Jones UKFast, Phil Jones from Brother I gained the inspiration and ability to make my business idea work.
“I have been fortunate to meet some amazing individuals, no more so than Chris Marsh of UK Fast. He kindly took me under his wing and gave me the inspiration to not limit myself by what others thought I could or couldn’t achieve – so I’ve gone from living in a small seaside town to learning from some of the most successful and greatest minds in the country.
He came up with the concept of Verilet after working with rental agencies that specialised in referencing tenants on behalf of letting agents. He realised that often people were paying out hundreds of pounds in referencing fees, only to find that their application had failed resulting in the loss of their non-refundable fee.
Verilet charges tenants a subscription fee of £9.99 to access their tenant eligibility report, which provides information surrounding the tenant’s eligibility to rent – with credit ratings and other personal information constantly updated – so they don’t miss out when their ideal property comes on the market.
After being founded in 2015, Gavin is aiming to take a major slice of the market in the coming five years, with 14.5 million people annually looking to rent homes.
He believes that the Chancellor’s recent announcement that tenant fees are to be banned, and instead directed on to estate agents, will put further pressure on to home-renters to prove they are eligible to take on a lease.
Gavin said: “At Verilet our aims are simple – we give tenants control over their own eligibility when it comes to renting the home they want, whilst giving letting agents and landlords high quality and completely free tenant referencing.
“Verilet helps people become the tenant that letting agents and landlords dream about.
“Our service goes across the UK, it’s a national need – really we’ve created a new global market for this product as nobody had ever done this before, in any country. There was no go-to company to follow, but that meant there were no rules to hinder us,” he said.
“We’ve partnered with CallCredit, a national credit referencing agency – they bought into my ideas and have gone from being a supplier to a partner, which is huge for us.
“I have also learnt from the UKFast model, which is all about employee engagement and creating the right environment to nurture talent and creativity.
“So we are creating an environment where visitors and team members can enjoy themselves. It’s about the people for us. If we can help people enjoy their day they can go and help tenants around the country.”
Gavin is also working on a property Tinder-style spin-off app, where those looking for rental homes can walk down a street and use their smart phone to see which properties are available, and what they are eligible for, then swiping left or right to show their interest.
Anna Openshaw, project manager at Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID), praised Gavin for his vision for creating a new market and revamping Penrhos Manor.
She said: “Every time I go to this building I am struck how glorious it is, like so many of Colwyn’s Bay’s historic houses. It was designed by Booth, Chadwick and Porter, the principal architects of the development of Colwyn Bay as we see it today.
“Gavin is taking it forward into the 21st century with his way of thinking and designs. I particularly like the fact he’s incorporating the very latest in communication networks, which means that his teams can sit in the garden, or really anywhere in the building, and work, rather than being tied down to a desk.
“The Cluedo-style recruitment day will really highlight those people who have the skills and approach that he needs to take the company forward.
“The orangery hot-desk space has to have one of the best ever views, out over the bay. It provides a place for those from outside the region to work and see for themselves how much this area has to offer, in terms of potential for investment and job creation.”
Businesses in Rhos on Sea, Old Colwyn, Mochdre and Colwyn Bay voted to set up the BID, where firms pay a levy and the cash raised is used for projects to boost trade.
The non-for-profit social enterprise is aiming to revitalise the business communities across the Bay of Colwyn and to attract more visitors, investment and shoppers to the area.
Anybody looking to work for Verilet can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org