Today we are introducing Mobber, Jane Scroggs, who is based in MOB – Caterina. Jane started as a Jewellery Designer, and now is a real estate expert. She remotely runs her company ‘Beam,’ which provides Virtual Assistants to the UK real estate industry. Why remotely? Because Jane came to Barcelona for love.
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
“I am from the UK and I run a team of Virtual Assistants who support UK property investors. We help them build their portfolios and manage administration, basically. I always find it quite hard to describe. I’m the founder and I have about 10 different assistants who work with me. I started the company in May 2020 – it’s called Beam.
I studied jewellery design and silversmithing. So nothing to do with what I’m doing now. I was always quite creative at school… I was really good at drawing and always good at creating and building things, so I started off with a foundation course in sculpture and then I went on to do a Higher National Diploma in fine jewellery and a Bachelor of Arts in silversmithing. I interviewed with some of the high street jewellers in the UK, but I soon realised that I was never going to make money just from that.
All the money came from making fine jewellery like really boring pieces, such as engagement rings. I was too creative to enjoy doing just that when I was only in my early 20s. Jewellery seemed glamorous, but you really don’t make money that way.
I started working for a Property Developer/Property Investor. I was his Executive Assistant and I went from there into different roles within property.”
Do you keep doing something creative aside from your business?
“Actually, I haven’t really done anything creative for a while because I’ve been working in office-type roles, but I always wanted to do interior design and get my hands dirty in property. The last ‘creative’ project I worked on was in the UK, where I created and co-founded a business called Podville, where we converted new shipping containers into office blocks. We bought them from China and I was responsible for the concept, branding, interiors, and coordinating the build. Basically, it was small office units for creative people in all kinds of small businesses. It was a really fun project. Then I moved to Barcelona. We’ve got planning permission for another one as well but we haven’t completed that one yet.”
How did you come up with the idea for Beam?
“The reason I set up my business is because I was moving to Barcelona to live with my partner who was already here. It was hard because I was doing something really creative and then I kind of had to take a step backwards to say “What can I do that still involves UK property, but is virtual?” because I knew I probably wouldn’t go back to the UK.
So, I thought of setting up as a Virtual Assistant, as I had my contacts there. I went back to my kind of executive system, my personal system roots in property. I was doing all the work for my clients directly, and then during lockdown, I just got approached by more and more people with referrals and I couldn’t really take on all the work myself. I decided to reach out to other people like me and built my team.
Beam started in May and it’s really interesting how it’s grown and evolved. Now our main focus is to work with property investors in the UK. Property Investors and Developers are quite often creative types and tend to hate doing anything admin. So we get to work and pretty much just overhaul their system by setting up really simple software and get their workflow running smoothly.”
I kind of had to take a step backwards to say “What can I do that still involves UK property, but is virtual?” because I knew I probably wouldn’t go back to the UK.
Was it challenging to get all the things together and start the company remotely?
“Actually it was easy, since we had the lockdown, people were already adapting to virtual working. So for my business, it’s been perfect really, because everyone is embracing having a virtual team, whereas before it was probably a bit strange because real estate in the UK is quite old-fashioned – people generally aren’t very tech savvy. So I think the current situation really helped in a way for them to understand my business.”
Why is it called Beam?
“A beam is what supports the structure of a building. There are beams in most ceilings that support the roof. So for me, it was like a metaphor for supporting property. Someone said to me ‘Oh, it’s like a beaming smile, and you’re always smiling’ so I thought… I’ll take it.”
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from the process of creating and building your company?
“I think the main lesson is to trust your instincts, believe in yourself and avoid comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs because everyone’s different; you never quite know what their situation is, so just keep focused while working hard in your own lane. The reason you start businesses is because you don’t want to be pigeonholed into a job. Instead of being intimidated by the progress of others, use it as inspiration but don’t take it on and beat yourself up about it. Be kind to yourself.
Now I’m really happy because I’m building a business again. I’ve always been someone who embraces new projects, so the idea of the whole thing not working out didn’t make me nervous. I turned it into courage to go all in about it.”
The main lesson is to trust your instincts, believe in yourself and avoid comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs because everyone’s different; you never quite know what their situation is, so just keep focused while working hard in your own lane.
Do you have any plans on expanding or doing something in Barcelona?
“Oh I would love to, I just don’t have time now really but my ideal thing would be to do residential refurbishments here. I’d love to do some shipping container projects or a portfolio of co-living in Barcelona, taking really old, beautiful buildings in Barcelona that are sitting empty and doing some amazing things with interiors, with really nicely branded things and renting them out to people… but I don’t think it’s the right market now.
My aim with Beam is to keep bringing more clients on and then eventually have an Operations Manager in place to help me manage the team and speak to the client to make sure everything is running smoothly. That will free my time up a little bit more to do some cool renovation projects in Barcelona.”
And what brought you to Barcelona?
“Oh, it was love! My partner was established here and I had been coming here for a couple of years. It’s much nicer than living in England and we just thought… let’s go for it. So I moved in February last year, but originally I was planning to come in April but I just thought ‘Just get on with it’ so I quickly rented my property, sold my car and made the move and then I think it was about three weeks later, we went into lockdown here. So I’m happy that I was able to do the move earlier. If not, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, so it was good timing.
I’m planning to stay long term in Barcelona and to be a resident, I’ve already started with my Spanish lessons, so step by step.”
Interviewd by: María Meneses.