London festive focus: Tal Orly, Cogress
With the end of a topsy-turvy year in sight and this year’s festivities about to begin, we’ve asked some of London’s business leaders to reflect on the year gone by and give us an insight into their festive traditions.
In the spotlight today is Tal Orly, Chief Executive Officer of Cogress, to share his thoughts on the year gone by, the year ahead and what’s most likely to get him boogying at this year’s Christmas shindig.
What have been the most notable highlights for your business this year?
When we completed our biggest raise to date of £10,800,000 for our New End Hampstead development. Although we all felt this was a great investment opportunity, we had some concerns before launching this investment mainly due to the large amount of equity needed and the short amount of time we had to raise it.
It’s been a year of highs and lows, can you tell us some of the biggest challenges your business has faced?
Uncertainty is never a good thing for businesses and 2016 had its fair share of events. The two factors that impacted the UK property industry and therefore, Cogress the most were without a doubt, the introduction of the new stamp duty tax, which created a slowdown in some parts of the market and of course, Brexit. However, this had a more limited impact on the market than expected, with the property market recuperating within a couple of months.
If there’s one lesson you’re going to take away from 2016, what is it and why?
Some things are not in our control and we shouldn’t pretend they are. However, planning for the worst, whilst believing in your product and your company is of paramount importance. As it is the only way you can withstand and eventually overcome any turbulence coming your way.
Which London business do you most admire right now?
As a business man and the CEO of a start-up company, I admire all companies that have started small and now lead the entrepreneurial world. One company that has substantially grown over the past few years is WeWork. They provide companies of any size with a communal atmosphere meant to foster organic business communities in and between cities including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, London and Amsterdam. They have established themselves as leaders in a surging co-working space movement by being innovative and by providing a unique service that has now become a trend all over the world.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing businesses in the city next year?
Every industry has its own challenges, but if I had to look at the UK market as a whole, I would say the uncertainty the Brexit brought to the property market has affected all investment businesses, especially due to the extensive media coverage it has received. It has significantly affected the currency exchange between the sterling and other currencies. This has subsequently made the UK market an attractive destination for foreign investors, but things might quickly shift again; making it hard to build a solid business plan for 2017 based only on speculation.
Despite the Brexit vote, we’ve still plenty of businesses setting up shop in the capital. What do you think makes the city so special?
I guess it derives from the same reason we chose to open our European HQ in London back in 2014. London is, in my opinion, the most cosmopolitan city in Europe and possibly, the world. It’s an international commercial centre with unlimited untapped opportunities. Unlike other cities, London doesn’t shy away from change and innovation.
Who’s your business idol, the person you find most inspiring and look up to?
It might sound a bit old fashioned, but I would have to say Kirk Kerkorian, the American self-made property mogul. I really think he had the right entrepreneurial flair needed for any business man. As a developer, myself, I feel this approach to business was crucial for my business and was the reason why I managed to build a name for myself in London.
Everyone has their Christmas day routine, what’s yours?
As a proud father of two, my Christmas routine is 100% correlated with their routine. From School parties to friend’s gatherings - Christmas is all about my kids, family and close friends. That’s what makes me the most happy - being surrounded by them.
And most importantly of all, what’s the cheesy Christmas single that’s most likely to get you on the dance floor?
One of my favourite artists is Frank Sinatra. I very much enjoy listening to “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” during the holidays with my family. It is a song immortalised by many artists.