Indifferent: Airtree & CBA-backed proptech handed to administrators after raise attempts fail

- June 30, 2023 2 MIN READ
Different cofounders Ruwin Perera and Mina Radhakrishnan
Different cofounders Ruwin Perera and Mina Radhakrishnan
Residential property management startup Different, has been handed to administrators, unable to attract new capital, despite being backed by Airtree and the Commonwealth Bank’s venture arm, X15.

Seven-year-old Different Technologies Pty Ltd was placed in voluntary administration with KPMG on Thursday.

Founded in 2017 by expat Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Mina Radhakrishnan, a former Uber global head of product at Uber, and her husband, Ruwin Perera, whose CV includes Google and SoftBank, :Different digitises property management tasks involving paperwork and admin for owners, investors and renters.

The startup raised $1 million in seed funding from the likes of AirTree Ventures, Silicon Valley’s Foundation Capital, and real estate agent Tim Foote when it launched. CBA’s x15 Ventures made an undisclosed investment in 2021 and Different was added to the CommBank app, to support property investors. The company has thousands of owners, tenants and properties on its platform and continues to operate under administration.

In a message to staff yesterday, Radhakrishnan said they had been trying to raise funds but did not “secure enough to continue operating the business as it’s currently being run for any significant period of time” and the board decided to appoint KPMG as voluntary administrators.

“Suffice to say the capital markets for scale-ups at our stage of growth are incredibly challenging right now,” she wrote.

“We will work closely with KPMG to give what we have built the best chance of having an ongoing positive impact.”

They called a halt to the company’s growth and integration of its Different for Agencies product and are now working on a “smooth transition of management over time”.

“While this is not the destination that we were hoping to achieve with :Different, both Ruwin and I are extraordinarily grateful to each and every one of our employees for joining us on this journey to date, and thankful for the hard work and effort that you have put in,” she said.

Mina Radhakrishnan is also a board member of the Tech Council of Australia.

A spokesperson for KPMG said they have “commenced an urgent assessment of the business with the intent to commence an orderly sale of :Different’s assets and intellectual property as soon as possible”.

A lack of ongoing capital for future growth echoes a similar failure for another high-profile Airtree investment, Milkrun, with the grocery delivery service shutting down in early April just weeks after founder Dany Milham cut staffing by 20%, saying it would give the 19-month-old business enough runway for 12 months. The brand was subsequently acquired and revived by Woolworths in late May for a rumoured $10 million, having raised more than $80 million from VCs.

Another Airtree investment, online furniture retailer Brosa slid into voluntary administration in late 2022. It had raised $2 million from AirTree Ventures in 2015, then a further $5 million in a Series B in 2017, backed by AirTree, BMY Group, and Bailador. ASX-listed online retailer Kogan.com paid the administrators $1.5 million for the company’s assets. But the collapse left Brosa customers $5 million out of pocket alongside investors.