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How Pupil is using virtual reality to help take the hassle out of house hunting

Co-founder James Marshall is using modern technology to make finding a property a less painful and time-consuming endeavour, writes Andy Martin

Saturday 11 July 2020 18:14
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‘We are mapping the built world,’ Marshall says
‘We are mapping the built world,’ Marshall says

The reassuring message from James Marshall is: don’t worry too much if you fail all your GCSEs. He did. He dropped out of school aged 17 before he could fail his A-levels too. “It would be fair to say I was not overly academic,” he says. And now he is CEO of Pupil and doing for the interiors of houses what Google Street View has done for the exteriors. “All floor plans are wrong,” says Marshall. His venture “Spec” aims to fix that.

Two and half years ago Marshall walked into the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors headquarters in London and had a meeting with the director of international standards. He said: “We believe everyone has been mis-sold properties because they are being mismeasured. Especially in London.” To which the standards supremo replied, “Yes, we know.”

Marshall, born in 1984 near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, initially went into hospitality after leaving school, then into finance, and acquired a grounding in real estate (losing his shirt on a piece of land in Herefordshire – a “good learning experience”). He met his co-founder Oliver Breach (equipped with A-levels and a degree in religious studies) through friends in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis and they eventually joined forces. But their breakthrough moment occurred in 2014 when they encountered virtual reality for the first time.

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