From AfterWork to Life's Work: Spotlight in Mickael Roger, co-founder of PropHero
Founded by Mickael and Pablo, PropHero is an AI-powered digital buyer’s agent that identifies investment properties matched to a buyer’s preferences and budget. Get to know the founder behind PropHero
We have sunsetted the AfterWork Ventures Substack. The original post can be found on our website here.
AfterWork recently invested in PropHero’s $1.6 million pre-seed round, alongside Global Founder’s Capital, Jelix Ventures, and The Fund.
Founded by Mickael Roger and Pablo Gil Brusola, PropHero is an AI-powered digital buyer’s agent that identifies investment properties most perfectly matched to a buyer’s preferences and budget; PropHero’s engine pulls 40 million data points and processes 240 variables to screen 18,000 Australian suburbs for properties with a buyer’s preferred risk and return characteristics.
PropHero’s approach speeds up the buying process, without sacrificing thoroughness.
The team is confident it can help buyers make great purchases in 98% less time - the quickest purchase to date has been 48 hours from first search. Additionally, PropHero has been helping its customers beat the market; overall, the properties PropHero bought for its customers have increased 17% in value over the past 6 months, 89% more than the average property price increase in Australia over the same period.
Before founding PropHero, Mickael was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, and a leader in Mckinsey’s Data & Artificial Intelligence practice. His affinity for data is matched by his passion for creating better and fairer experience for property investors; and in doing so, opening property investing up to the next generation.
In getting to know Mickael and Pablo, we were consistently impressed by their methodical approach to building PropHero. Starting with only the germ of an idea, we watched the team work with focus and precision to finalise six home purchases within just three months. We attribute this momentum to the structured approach the team took to test, improve, and refine their idea; while also quantifying and contextualising the problem. It’s this kind of tenacity, commitment and resilience that makes Mickael a natural leader, with the magnetic and dogged determination necessary to realise his vision.
It was a pleasure to learn more about Mickael in this interview!
How did you get the idea for your business?
A few years ago, I made my first property investment in Australia. I was very busy at McKinsey at the time, so I hired a buyer’s agent in the hope that I could save time, while still getting a great deal. After a few months (and dozens of hours!) of searching, I finally made the right investment - not thanks to my buyer’s agent, but because I had carefully analysed the market and taken a data-driven approach.
I was stunned by how far behind the real estate industry was compared to what I was doing in my day job, building digital and AI capabilities for banks, insurers, and media companies globally. I saw the opportunity to completely reinvent property investment to make it more simple, transparent, and profitable.
Talk us through your journey… How did PropHero evolve from an idea to a living, breathing thing?
It all started from my living room couch! I will always remember the Monday morning, after I had dropped my son at daycare, sitting on my couch, and thinking, “How am I going to get this thing off the ground?”
As a pragmatic person, I started by analysing the property market (both in Australia and abroad) quite extensively. This phase took me about two months, and involved interviewing over fifty players to understand what is done and not done in the industry. I then defined our business model and built the first data model, to validate my hypothesis that data could indeed transform property buying.
What was the biggest barrier to getting your business off the ground? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge initially was finding the right co-founder. I always knew that I wanted this journey to be shared with someone I respected and admired. It took a few iterations, and one or two disappointments, but the outcome - co-founding PropHero with Pablo - has been an amazing one. The journey would be much less fun without him!
What inspired you to turn PropHero from after work into ‘work work’? Was there a pivotal moment where you were struck with a certain clarity? Or did you systematically work through the decision?
I tested the idea with dozens of friends and people around me. I cannot remember how many times I heard back, “This is exactly what I need - let me know when you are live!” This convinced me there was a real need in the market.
The next step was finding our first client. Funnily enough, it was my wife who found her - they met while chatting about my business idea at a kid’s birthday party in Bondi! Finding a first paying customer made things real, very quickly. I will forever be grateful to Laetitia for being the first person to put their trust in us!
Outside of your company, what are you into right now?
Spending time with my little boy Raphael, my amazing wife Guen, surfing with friends, camping in the middle of the bush, listening to philosophy, geopolitics and science podcasts (yes, I’m the type of guy who listens to 2 hour long podcasts on mathematics).
Who or what inspires you and keeps you focused on your north star?
Seven months after launching PropHero, I still feel a huge excitement every morning when I wake up, thinking of how many great things we can build. I feel the universe of possibilities is infinite and this excites me every single day.
We’re focused from Day One on building a company that people love to work at. This is why we’ve recently brought onboard Carla as our Head of People and Culture. Her role will be to make PropHero a place where employees love to work at, and where they can do their best work. Building this platform is a big part of what makes this journey so enjoyable.
Talk us through a standard day in your life as a founder.
‘Standard’ is not a word in a start-up’s vocabulary!
Let me try to answer anyway: everyday I drop my little boy at daycare at 7am.
Then I cycle to the office, review our OKRs and priorities for the day, week, and month. I try to split my time relatively evenly between internal business needs in operations, tech, and data science with spending some time building my network externally.
Every week in the office always includes 3 key pillars: pool games (where the best strategic decisions are made), a long (and not necessarily healthy) lunch break, and beers with the team once a week. That’s been our recipe for success!
What unusual or childhood experiences prepared you for what you do today?
I think I have known since I was two years old that I would build my own company - it just took me 32 years to do it! For as long as I can remember, I always knew I would enjoy building something from scratch and working with a team towards a shared goal.
One experience had a pretty significant impact on how I see things today: I was living in the US when the dot.com bubble exploded - my parents had a tech company at the time. Even though I was only 12 at the time, I remember vividly how ‘consensus’ oscillated rapidly between wild optimism and doom and gloom. This experience taught me to take ‘what the majority believes’ with a grain of salt. Now, I always go back to fundamentals, instead of reacting to short-term noise.
What is your golden rule that you try to live and work by?
Let me defer to two great artists that I love:
What advice would you have for anyone looking to take the plunge?
Find something that will keep you excited for many years. It’s a long journey, so you’d better find something that will bring you fun.
Take your time to find the right co-founder. I knew it in my heart when I found mine - trust your instinct!
Test your idea all the time, with everyone. This feedback will help you understand if there is potential and what to change.
Get something out there as soon as possible, and learn from user feedback. A mistake I have made in the past - don’t try to have everything perfect, just test, learn, repeat.
It’s easier than you think. My modest experience taught me that the only real challenge is to be resilient. The rest will come.
Enjoyed Mickael’s story? Subscribe for weekly content that features the incredible startups shaping our future.