Balancing the Grind with Nathan Aranha, Co-Founder of Occubuy

Nathan Aranha, the co-founder of Occubuy, is on a mission to transform the daunting process of buying a home into an achievable dream for renters across Australia. 

Growing up inspired by his mother, a migrant and business owner, Nathan inherited a deep-seated entrepreneurial spirit that led him from the competitive world of sales to the innovative frontiers of cryptocurrency and eventually to the foundation of Occubuy with his childhood friend, David. 

In this interview, Nathan shares his journey from idea to execution, revealing how his experiences shaped Occubuy’s mission to empower renters with tools for financial literacy and home ownership.

As he discusses the daily grind of a startup founder and his personal strategies for maintaining work-life balance, Nathan offers a glimpse into the dedication and passion that drive his vision for a more inclusive real estate market.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit growing up. My mum is a migrant and business owner. Witnessing her navigate the complexities of starting a medical practice, while being a single mother, a doctor, cancer survivor and a woman of colour, all at the same time has been truly inspirational. 

So, starting a business was in my DNA. From thriving in sales roles during uni, I found my passion and loved the competitive environment. In 2015, while in a role selling services to HNWI, I came across crypto currency and convinced a small handful of my clients to get involved.

Following some success during the early hype, I reconnected with my high-school friend David. We started Altsreport, a platform educating investors on what we saw as a digital transformation. After building to 50,000 subscribers, we were acquired in 2017. 

We wanted to continue the journey together, so David and I set-off around the globe for a couple of years, excited to find our next adventure. We came across companies in the US offering rent-to-buy. Both being renters, we decided to try and bring components of these “pathways to homeownership” back to Australia. 

In 2022, David and I founded Occubuy, with the mission to transition more young people into homeownership. We have slightly changed the model from a traditional rent-to-buy to emulate what we feel young people need, for the future of renting.

Occubuy is now launching Australia’s first rewards platform for renters, empowering them to earn credits towards homeownership. We offer regular rewards for savings milestones, good financial behaviour and paying their biggest expense – rent. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I’ve recently learned that my morning routine completely defines my day. I aim for 7hrs of sleep and wake up at around 6am. I’ve got a German Shepherd x GSP that is eagerly awaiting his walk, which makes it very easy to jump into the day, regardless of weather. I’ll usually listen to a podcast or just have some time to think about and visualise my major tasks. Being a start-up founder is full of challenges, so there’s always something to mentally process. 

After my morning routine, by 8am I’m responding to emails or opening new opportunities. My Co-founder, David and I meet at the office by 9 for our daily run down. Then I’ve got a few hours of fighting fires or attacking the 3 biggest problems that are holding us back. This includes meetings with vendors or property partners. 

After lunch I’ll usually get feedback on the new product features. I’ve  found that our messaging directly correlates to customer feedback on the problems we are solving for them. Our tech team is based in Bangalore, where David and I set up a “hacker house”, so because they’re a few hours behind, we meet with them at around 2pm, followed by internal meetings with advisors or investors. 

Then at 5, we are researching new opportunities, creating process flows or adding tasks to Asana. Finally we will go through our current tasks and make sure we have completed the important > urgent tasks.

If there are no networking events, we will go to the gym after dinner for weight training. I’ll usually check-in with the off-shore team at 10pm, before reading and winding down for bed. 

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

I believe that this is my life’s work and surrounding myself with amazing people has been a bit of a secret to not feeling burnt out. I’ve known my Co-founder since we were 10 years old so we have a deep connection which makes hard work much easier. However, we are also on each other’s backs about taking time with family and friends, keeping relationships with people outside of work, eating healthy and optimising our bodies and minds in any way we can. I love cooking, training my pup and I put time aside for exercise. Definitely has been a learning process for me but taking time out to do these things definitely keeps me balanced. 

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

Adopting my dog has been extremely grounding. Dogs don’t care about what you do or who you are, they just love unconditionally. Making sure I can keep up with him has been impactful in taking my mind away from work.  I’ve started wearing a Garmin watch, which helps me track my sleep, health and fitness routines. It’s a game changer. 

I’ve also started 75 hard recently, which puts a lot of focus on physical and mental resilience and now that I’ve started, I feel it would benefit anyone looking to improve their work-life balance. What I love about 75 hard is the commitment you make to yourself. .  

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Right now I’m reading Steven Bartlett’s The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws of Business and Life. Andrew Huberman’s podcasts are also fantastic. Lots of gems in there that have helped me find a balance. Learning about happiness, leadership, and health have all contributed to finding balance. 

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.