Sydney startup Open Agent, which helps property sellers find the right real estate agent to work with based on customer reviews and sales data, has raised $12 million in a funding round led by Reinventure, with participation from Breakthrough Labs and Qualgro.
Founded by Zoe Pointon and Marta Higuera in 2013, Open Agent has raised $20 million in funding to date, with the latest round set to go towards expanding the startup’s reach and developing new services to help property sellers through the whole sales process.
“We’ve just been growing like crazy, and I think that goes to show just how much consumers want this service…through the last year we’ve helped more than 10,000 people go through the process of getting their property onto the market, and I think if you grow fast you’ll always find opportunities to grow more,” Pointon said.
“A couple of years ago we were just really about comparing agents, whereas what we’ve seen now is the potential to help people in a broader sense and really make it easier for them to sell their properties, and that’s the real opportunity we’re going after with this new funding.”
In the works since February, the round marks the first investment from Reinventure’s second $50 million fund and is the second Australian investment from Qualgro, which works across the Asia Pacific.
The investment from Reinventure is particularly interesting, given it is backed by Westpac, which is increasingly looking to work with startups. Reinventure cofounders Simon Cant and Danny Gilligan said the second fund will continue to take a long term view of where financial services and “adjacent industries” are going, looking to industries where financial services are embedded within the product such as health, real estate, retail, services, and agriculture.
As such, the potential synergies between Open Agent and the bank are clear given real estate leads into mortgages and other financial services, and though Higuera and Pointon said they would obviously be open to exploring any synergies, they also said that the investment was purely a funding move.
Similarly, though Qualgro has expertise across Asia, Pointon and Higuera said they have too much work to do in Australia to think of looking overseas.
“We have so much to do to fix the process for sellers in Australia. We’re probably around close to one percent market share, so making sure we make the process as easy as possible for more people who are thinking about coming to the market will help us grow our market share here in Australia, and that is absolutely our focus,” Pointon said.
“The customer problem is global, everyone is looking at real estate and saying this is quite a broken process, but the actual way to fix that in each market depends on so many factors that for us it makes a lot of sense to just really double down on fixing here in Australia.”
Despite the number of opportunities within the real estate market, Open Agent will be focusing solely on the sales process though expanding their view to the whole customer journey.
The cofounders believe there are a number of product opportunities therein that they have not yet addressed, such as bringing further control and transparency to the process once sellers are in the market, opportunities identified through data collected via the platform and understanding what it is customers are after. For example, people don’t actually want to work with the cheapest agent, Open Agent has found – they are happy to pay more for an agent so long as the agent is delivering them value.
“So many little things are broken everywhere, but until we’ve made it really, really easy for people around Australia to sell their property, we should just focus on that,” Pointon said.
Higuera added, “And there’s a long way to go on that.”
Image: Zoe Pointon and Marta Higuera. Source: Supplied.