Yessi Bello Perez brings you some of the most promising startups in UK property tech.
Founder: Gavriel Merkado Base: London Funding: Private investors
Gavriel Merkado, CEO at REalyse (formerly Insight Residential), is all too aware of how significant data can be when it comes to making business decisions.
“When I made the switch from working in the financial markets to working in large scale property development … it became glaringly obvious that there was something missing from the world of property investment and development, which I had become used to working in the city: data,” he said.
For the most part, Merkado explained, property professionals have been relying on outdated tech, paper-based reports and a lot of local knowledge to make informed decisions.
Merkado decided to build REalyse, a data-driven platform that seeks to empower buyers searching for residential property, because he was unhappy with the “inaccuracies and biases” prevalent in the traditional methods of property analysis.
A Pi Labs graduate, the company was launched in the first half of this year and is now focusing on delivering specific software propositions to its clients.
The long-term vision, Merkado said, is to eradicate all the inefficiencies that currently exist in the property market and correct them with improved processes, appropriate technology and more importantly, data.
“The goal is to make the property market as transparent, liquid and efficient as any other major market,” he added.
Founder: Savannah de Savary Base: London Funding: $350,000 Seed
Imagine being a real estate developer and being able to track down top architects, interior designers and engineers – previously only trackable through word-of-mouth recommendations – at the touch of a button. Well, that’s exactly what IndustryHub is setting out to do.
Savannah de Savary came up with the idea while sat in a meeting with a big real estate development firm in New York. It was during this time she realised just how difficult it was to track down suitable professionals quickly and efficiently.
“The need to transform word-of-mouth for the digital age became starkly apparent,” said de Savary.
IndustryHub, which also recently graduated from Pi Labs, allows real estate developers to search for professionals depending on their experience, project type, previous clients and desired skills.
Eventually, the startup wants to be able to facilitate the process further; allowing users to discover the talent behind a specific project by simply typing in the address or taking a photograph.
“Previously, it took years, if not decades, to build the sort of network that yielded such insight. Going forward, it will simply take the click of a button,” she added.
For now, IndustryHub is looking to expand further although de Savary said its user base is already growing organically outside of the UK.
Founder: Daniel Mohamed Base: London Funding: Self-funded, Virgin Startup loan, UCL Bright Ideas award grant
On winning the UCL Bright Ideas award Dan received a grant which together with a Virgin Startup loan and a personal contribution, allowed him to begin collecting planning policy data and building an MVP. On being accepted to PiLabs we received a further investment which allowed us to employ a full time developer. We’re currently seeking a seed round of investment.
Urban Intelligence seeks to transform the way in which developers, professionals and investors see and understand land supply in the UK.
Daniel Mohamed came up with the idea while he was working for a small planning consultancy firm in London. Continually frustrated with the amount of time it took him to assess a site’s planning potential, he decided to leverage technology to overcome the laborious task of looking through disaggregated policy documents.
“There is very little in the way of software and technology being used in the property process, which remains dominated by professionals that benefit from the system’s complexity,” said Mohamed.
Although Urban Intelligence was founded in late 2014 whilst Mohamed was doing an MSc in urban regeneration, it was not until September last year that he started working on the company full-time.
“The last six months have seen Urban Intelligence grow rapidly,” said Mohammed. Aside from growing its team, the startup has been accepted on to Pi Labs’ accelerator programme and won a UCL Bright Ideas Award for Entrepreneurship.
Looking ahead, Mohamed said Urban Intelligence will seek to combine its planning policy information with spatial data in order to provide a high-quality interactive mapping solution for the industry.
“This will enable developers, professionals and investors to spot a site’s development potential in an instant. We also want to roll out our service from just London to cover the UK’s major cities, once we have gained a foothold in the capital,” he concluded.
Founders: Andy Miles and Ian Parry Base: London Funding: £2.1m
Founded in 2014 and due to Miles’ and Parry’s frustration with the lack of tech-enabled solutions available for the commercial and property industry, Realla is a free-to-list search engine for commercial property.
“The commercial property industry is still in the very early stages of its adoption of modern technology – probably 10 years behind residential,” said Miles.
“The story will take a very long time to play out. However, the trend is only going one way, creating good opportunities for companies like ours. I would also expect to see more interest in and acceptance of technology solutions by agents and landlords – provided they are genuinely useful,” he added.
Realla, which serves the likes of Colliers and Regus and is working on deepening its relationship with its first large customer Jones Lang LaSalle, has drawn support from some high-profile investors including Simon Murdoch, an early investor in Zoopla and Lovefilm; and Andy Jones, former chairman of ImmobilienScout24, the leading residential property portal in Germany.
When dealing with multiple tenants, as well as multiple providers (gas, electricity, water and TV), working out who owes what can be a pretty complicated process. Ashley Tate, founder of Split the Bills, seems to have come up with a solution to this problem.
“For a tenant, our aim is to make setting up, paying and managing shared bills as easy and pain-free as possible,” he said.
Each tenant that’s registered on the platform pays a single monthly direct debit to cover all services. The amount is estimated based on usage for the size of the property, the number of people living there and its location.
“Throughout the year we ask for meter readings so we can track their usage and help them stay within the estimated usage allowance. At the end of each tenancy, we close down all the services, reconcile the tenant’s payments against actual utility charges and, in more than 80% of accounts, the tenants receive a refund,” said the founder.
The firm, which charges each tenant £1.50 per week and receives management fees from some of the utility providers, is in the process of raising funding to boost its growth.
“Our aim is to become the clear leader in the shared utility market by 2018. Once we’ve cracked this market we know our tech can be used to solve similar problems in other markets,” concluded Tate.