Melbourne proptech startup Rental Heroes has raised $1 million in seed funding for its AI-based tenant request SaaS platform.
Seed investment group Investible led the round, with existing investor, Artesian, once again backing the two-year-old startup alongside US-based Hustle Fund and Morten Birk Belling, managing director of Menulog ANZ.
Rental Heroes is pioneering the use of conversational AI to automate the triage and resolve tenancy questions and issues, one of the most time-consuming tasks for property managers.
The funding will be used to enhance the capability of the AI to support an wider range of property management tasks.
Co-founder and CEO Ben Burton said the residential property management industry had experienced more change in the last 12 months than the last decade, amid increased regulation to deal with the global pandemic and the rapid shift to digital by the real estate sector was a huge opportunity for the proptech sector.
“This change has also unfortunately seen property managers leave the industry, with almost 9,000 open property management roles advertised in 2021,” he said.
“Business owners and department heads simply cannot fill property manager roles and are looking to AI technology to help fill the gap.”
Since first launching in January 2020 – 12 months after Burton and his co-founder Dom Chmielewski founded the SaaS startup – with LJ Hooker as their first client, Rental Heroes now has more than 40,000 users, and the customer base includes Century 21, First National, Professionals, Raine & Horne and Jellis Craig.
Chmielewski, the COO, said that unlike other prop-tech solutions, has no app, website, or portal. Tenants interact with a digital property assistant, “Alex”, via Messenger.
Their goal is to create better experiences for tenants, property managers and landlords. The wanted tech to support property managers, rather than disrupt the sector.
Rental Heroes integrates with existing property management systems including PropertyMe, Palace, VaultRE, IRE, Property Tree and soon Console Cloud.
“Ben and I previously worked in the tech sector gaining skills across mobile device applications, conversational AI and lean software development. We also experienced first-hand as tenants how tough a job property management is because you are juggling the interests of tenants, landlords and trades,” he said.
“With so much time spent communicating via phone and email, we thought there must be a better way. By using an existing channel, we remove a key barrier to adoption, which is downloading a new app or remembering your portal password. On the property manager side, the data flows seamlessly between our digital assistant and the property managers’ existing systems.”
Investible investment director Daniel Veytsblit met the co-founder at the Investible Games in 2019.
“Ben and Dom have already proven Rental Heroes’ value to the property management ecosystem and have a significant vision to make property management more efficient for all participants: agents, landlords, renters as well as service providers,” he said
“We look forward to working with the team to create meaningful change in an industry that impacts the day-to-day lives of so many.”
Fellow investor Shiyan Koh, general partner of US VC Hustle Fund said: “we see the opportunity Rental Heroes has to apply their technology to US use-cases, including the 40 million multifamily unit rental market”.
With the seed round under their belt, Burton and Chmielewski are turning their attention to building a sales team, launching new end-user communication channels and expanding the capability of “Alex” via partner integrations and AI development, as well as international expansion.
“We will also sustainably move into both US and UK markets via our existing integration partnerships,” Dom Chmielewski said.