AFTER forming a long-lasting friendship during their time at Wasps, Jack Willis and Alex Lundberg have taken this strong foundation and ventured into business together. After playing at Wasps and searching for their own properties together, the duo have launched their new property and finance company, RockCap.
Headquartered in London with a satellite office in Leamington Spa, RockCap finds and acquires property opportunities for clients - from part-time investors and developers to institutional funds. Working alongside former player Mark Denney who runs Denco Advisory, not only do they find the options to fit your criteria but also help clients find the debt and equity they need to finance their development.
The pair have had to overcome personal, and due to COVID-19, external factors in their journey to this point. Jack, only recently returning from a near career-ending injury and Alex sadly having to hang up his boots due to concussion. Yet the business has provided a new sense of purpose in these uncertain times.
Here the duo share an insight into what it’s like to work together as teammates, stay motivated through lockdown and offer advice to those who are keen to find passions away from the rugby pitch.
How have you both found working together on this new venture?
Alex Lundberg: We’ve been friends for a long time, and we are similar characters. We are pretty head strong and sometimes hard to reason with! But what’s useful is our ability to be open and honest with each other and that’s been good to carry over to our business relationship.
Jack Willis: A lot of advice I’ve had from guys who have gone into business with friends in the past is, “It’s not only exciting its enjoyable.” If we don’t agree we call each other out, because like on a rugby pitch, it’s important to get to the route of the matter as quickly as possible. We’ve applied that same principle. This is a fast-moving industry; If we have to have uncomfortable conversations, we deal with them head on.
How have you managed starting a business during COVID-19?
Jack Willis: In some ways it has been really useful (the lockdown), as we have had a chance to reach out to people and grow our contact base. We’ve also had opportunities to talk to people who are experienced in this area, who normally wouldn’t have the time, and have given us some invaluable advice and opened the door to work with them in the future.
Alex Lundberg: As Jack mentioned it has given us a real opportunity to expand our network and nurture our existing contacts. We work very closely with Mark Denney, also a former Wasps player, who runs Denco Advisory, a Debt Advisory company for investors and developers. Partnering with Mark is great as it allows us to offer our clients the very best advice by utilizing Mark's significant expertise and Denco's extensive track record whilst we gain more experience in the sector. It works really well as Mark has been in our shoes and done it. He studied at Bristol and Cambridge whilst playing professionally and so he is supportive of what we are trying to do and we really enjoy working with him.
You both have faced very serious injuries in the last year, how has having this external focus helped?
Jack Willis: It’s a hard one for a lot of lads, especially the younger ones, because you often here the ‘this advice is always there for you’ spiel and we can all hold our hands up and admit we don’t really take those opportunities and utilise that support from the RPA as best we can. But after my injury in 2018 it hit home for me that rugby could be taken away sooner than I’d anticipated.
During that time I realised I needed to have that back up plan, to have something outside of rugby. You don’t want to be just defined as a rugby player. Rugby can take over your whole life if you let it and especially with everything that’s going on at the moment, it’s very nice to be able to walk out of the training ground and then come home and focus on RockCap. That balance is really important. RockCap has been a really positive addition and it’s great to have the support from the rugby network, especially the RPA.
Alex Lundberg: I’ve had a concussion injury that’s been dragging on for the last 16 months or so, therefore I won’t be able to play again. Before my retirement, I think like Jack, it made me be more proactive away from the game, I found it helped me mentally and even probably playing wise in terms of my level of enjoyment. The trials and tribulations of a rugby player can sometimes get the better of you. RockCap definitely made the process slightly easier and it’s been great to have something with an ex- teammate and a friend.
What advice would you give to players who are in a similar place to you both respectively?
Jack Willis: Don’t wait. Worst case you’ll cross something off the list that you didn’t want to do. The earlier you can rule it out means you will save yourself the time. Especially if you do it at a time when you don’t need the money, it means you have a safety net. I have previously done an evening plumbing course and ended up really enjoying it, but I know now that that’s another avenue I could potentially explore. It’s far too easy to sit at home on the PS4 for five hours.
Alex is a great example. It’s really unfortunate that he has had to retire, but the fact that he utilised his rugby network and was proactive while he was playing means he can now tap into those contacts and put us on the front foot.
Alex Lundberg: A lot of the focus is sometimes around what you do after rugby, but as rugby players you have a lot of time. Although you may be physically knackered, you need to be proactive as early as possible. When you come towards finishing, it will be an easier transition. It is easy to be all consumed by rugby, but when you have other focuses it almost makes you more professional as a player because you’ve got to make sure you’re incredibly organised in a rugby context to free up that time for your other projects. James Haskell is a great example of someone who got it right both on and off the pitch, he was incredibly professional as a player, but he had a lot going on outside of rugby too – a business venture outside of rugby can be a great focus.
If you are interested in working with RockCap or learning more about the business and ways to get involved please contact:
Alex Lundberg - 07815912057 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Willis - 07498296330 email@example.com
Or visit rockcap.uk