Guest Post by Jack FitzGerald, Founder at Disrupt Property
Global funding in real estate tech over the past few years has exploded. In fact, real estate tech investments hit record-high levels in 2015, with US $1.7B raised across 191 deals. As we wrap up 2016, our team at Disrupt Property has published a list of the Top 20 Real Estate Tech Investments in 2016, summing up the year by pulling together a collection of companies ranging from ‘just got funded’ to ‘unicorns’, stretching from San Francisco to Melbourne, London to Singapore.
There are more than 25 categories included and our selection criteria was based on the following:
- Leadership in its category
- Ability to change the industry
- Quality and sector knowledge of investor
- Investment size
It was also based entirely on the information at our disposal, a subjective assessment of what’s important, and frankly, platforms we think are cool.
The other thing is that our team consists of property developers with a wide interpretation of real estate tech. Extending beyond commercial real estate and residential search portals, we are interested in construction management and safety, design, and sales and marketing. We also love in-building tech such as building management platforms and IoT. Plus, anything to do with retail shopping experience, behavioral analytics and tenant engagement.
Selecting a top 20 was fun and it forced us to focus, to drown out the hundreds and hundreds of ReTech startups out there. Like any list, there will be some obvious omissions or companies we simply don’t know. Our aim, however, is to provide an overall view of the market, going broad rather than deep, to create a list you can send to someone with no sector knowledge at all and say ‘here, read this and you will be more up to date than 95% of the office’. For those of us who do watch this space, we hope it’s a bit like a Christmas Countdown of the year’s best music hits. Always fun and always a few included you didn’t see coming.
The full report is available on our website, but we have thrown together 10 companies below to give you a little taster:
Bricklane – This UK startup came flying out of the blocks with news that portal search giant Zoopla had invested pre-launch. It is a crowdfunding platform, but what makes it unique is that it allows retail investors to use their government savings accounts (ISAs). Every citizen in the UK has an ISA and are encouraged to maximise the annual tax free limit of £15,240. Bricklane’s innovative approach threatens to expose real estate crowdfunding to the everyday British saver.
Compass – This is one of the year’s real estate tech unicorns. Raising a reported US$80m in August, compass is taking a new approach to property search, focusing on giving brokers the best tools available to streamline the buying process. It’s only available in a handful of US cities and we’d hate to think what it would be worth once it has covered the whole country.
DroneDeploy – In the construction industry right now, drone advocates are promising a new dawn. It’s great getting high quality visuals of construction sites (we are doing it in Singapore) and the potential of combining BIM and drones to better monitor construction progress is exciting. DroneDeploy has gone one (big) step further, launching an app store on its platform, allowing any 3rd party developer to publish software capable of integrating with its own. 19 apps are already listed specialising in anything from tree counting to roof inspections.
Equiem – Australia punches above its weight in the real estate tech scene largely thanks to portal monster REA Group. Equiem, which has been around since 2012, has about the most sophisticated tenant engagement platform we’ve seen. They give commercial landlords a platform to engage with office workers, connecting them with retail services and infrastructure, thereby creating micro-communities to improve worker productivity and satisfaction.
Latch – It felt like the list needed a representative from the smart home category and Latch edged it based purely on a good-looking product, and an equally impressive investor list. The Latch team graduated from the R/GA IoT accelerator and received investment from real estate specialist VC Camber Creek and MetaProp NYC’s Zach Aarons (one of the statesmen in this space). While there are plenty of smart lock providers, Latch is both well connected and well-funded.
LendInvest – UK P2P lending platform, LendInvest, is a shrewd combination of FinTech and PropTech (as they call it there) connecting lenders with borrowers looking for short term real estate loans. What we like about them is their commitment to transparency – they list all their figures on their website including revenue, profit, total amount lent, properties funded and average return. They also work hard to help promote the real estate tech scene in London.
Matterport – If virtual reality (VR) was the buzzword of real estate in 2016, then Matterport is where the rubber hits the road. It’s racking up serious numbers and establishing global partners to charge further growth. So marks the death of static, 2D property photos online.
Opendoor – The most exciting and controversial one of the lot. Who would be crazy enough to offer to buy your house without seeing it? Opendoor. Upload your home details and receive an offer via email a few hours later. The other unicorn on the list with a massive capital raise of US$210m a few weeks ago.
VTS – VTS is the flag bearer of real estate tech v2.0 (v1.0 being the move to online classifieds like Trulia and Zoopla). The founders looked at commercial real estate and took the whole thing online with a comprehensive leasing and asset management solution. Deals this year with Hightower and Compstak have set them up for world domination.
Zumper – The rental market is full of pain points. From searching through listings to dragging yourself between apartments, submitting paper applications and getting approval. Zumper is automating this, providing real-lime listings for house-hunters to search and apply, and digitising the application process. The battle for renters’ eyeballs will deliver countless startup casualties. Zumper, with total capital raised standing at US$40m, has prepared its warchest for the long road ahead.
In our report, we include an overview, funding summary and reasons ‘why they made the list’ for all 20 startups listed. For a full copy, click here or visit our website for to explore PropTech / RETech startups, and for everyone who thinks we missed one or got the whole thing wrong we look forward to your comments below.
Jack FitzGerald, Founder at Disrupt Property