26 June 2015

Mitula to IPO in less than 48 hours

Mitula Group the company that bought property search engine Nestoria a few weeks ago is now set to launch their IPO this coming Tuesday in Australia, Renthusiast can exclusively reveal. The IPO was announced a few days ago on Property Portal Watch, a blog and information service run by Simon Baker, who is also chairman of Mitula.

 Group CEO Gonzalo del Pozo exclusively revealed to us that it had taken him and Baker just a few short months to get this IPO together, from idea, to launch. Gonzalo said that he and Simon locked themselves away for a few days after discussing the idea at a PPW sponsored convention held this past February in Bangkok. They then wrote the prospectus, which is over 150 pages and with the help of legal and accounting experts got it approved by the stock exchange authorities in just a few short weeks.
Gonzalo revealed to us last night at a private event in London that the company operates at about 50% profit and that the Nestoria acquisition was part of his 'strategic plan' to increase company profitability and market share, especially in certain European markets such as Germany, the UK and Italy, where Nestoria was a very dominant player and market leader. Also the strategic acquisition meant that the group now has leverage in emerging markets such as Brazil and especially India, where Nestoria had relationships in the local portal and classified search industry that they had cultivated even before Mitula Group itself had existed. Gonzalo also said he felt at the time Mitula's technology was more advanced than Nestoria giving the example of Mitula being 'WhatsApp' and Nestoria being 'Skype'.
The IPO for the Madrid based company is set to raise A$150M (£75M) and is over-subscribed, according to Gonzalo. He also said that they could have IPO'd in just about any market in the world but chose Australia because the corporate culture is very similar to his native Spain. The plan for the IPO includes an aggressive acquisition campaign in the highly profitable but increasingly competitive classified search market. The company currently operates in 39 markets worldwide.

Both Nestoria co-founders Ed Frefogle and Javier Hernandez intend to stay on with Mitula 'for as long as possible' and to play a critical role in the direction of the new business. Gonzalo also mentioned that he himself is happy to stay on as CEO for as long as needed but would also consider stepping aside if the occasion warranted in the future, perhaps because of a strategic change of direction or culture.
Finally, it must be noted that Renthusiast is one of the few blogs in London that paid any attention to prop-tech start-ups such as Nestoria dating as far back as 2006.
Nestoria is one of the few companies that we covered back then that is still around today in some form. Most prop-tech companies withered away, especially after the credit crunch of 2008 and the deteriorating property market and economic conditions in the UK and Europe. Many were eaten up by the giant Zoopla, who had tons of money behind them plus the influence of their heavyweight CEO Alex Chesterman. Outside of Zoopla, Nestoria is the only company that made it to IPO, but it did take the Mitula acquisition in order to get them to that level.  

19 June 2015

Groundsure sponsors initiative between conveyancers and lenders

At its second All-Members Meeting, The Conveyancing Association (CA) welcomed guest speaker, Paul Smee the Director General of the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML). The event was an initiative to improve the home moving process, by considering how conveyancers and lenders can communicate more effectively to reduce delays for clients. Sponsored by Groundsure, the meeting aimed to help the CA engage with the lender community specifically and to initiate a dialogue around the hurdles that currently prevent conveyancers and lenders from being able to carry out their respective roles both swiftly and smoothly during a home purchase or sale. It follows a survey, run by the CA earlier in the year, which asked members to highlight the areas or stages of the transaction process they currently find problematic when it comes to lender engagement – and designed to prompt an open, two-way discussion on these issues with lenders. Conveyancing Association Chairman Eddie Goldsmith believes that the relationship between lenders and conveyancers is 'tremendously important'. His organisation looking forward to continuing the dialogue with both the CML and lenders as part of the CA’s engagement programme.

What companies can hope to achieve by joining Europe's first accelerator dedicated to property technology

Mary Criebardis Singh, Programme Director at Pi Labs describes what companies can expect to achieve by joining and working with Europe's first accelerator programme, dedicated exclusively to property technology. She details exactly how the programme is structured and offers advice to prop-tech start-ups on how they can get involved and participate in the new accelerator programme, which is due to launch this September. Last week Pi Labs hosted 'Demo Day' at Google Campus, which was an opportunity to showcase to  the 5 start-ups supported so far, since the program launched in November 2014.

Remember if you are involved in prop-tech, we want to hear your story, please email blog (at) renthusiast.com with details of your company or program.   

15 June 2015

Why Cushman & Wakefield supports prop-tech

Juliette Morgan - Cushman & Wakefield's head of property and global tech lead was at last weeks Pi Labs Demo Day and was kind enough to share a few moments with us and to explain the rationale behind C&W's strong support for the prop-tech industry here in London. She also advised us that C&W are planning to expand the program to New York City in the very near future.
Please listen below for podcast   

13 June 2015

Pi Labs spearheading innovation in prop-tech

Pi Labs stems from the belief that companies such as Zoopla, Air BnB, Trulia and Zillow are 'not one off success stories'. Other big businesses will emerge from the 'intersection of two very different industries' and Pi Labs aims to provide dedicated platforms to cater to the property industries uniques features, according to Faisal Butt, founder & CEO.
Launched last fall, with support from Cushman Wakefield and James Cann's Spire Ventures, Pi Labs provides prop-tech startup companies with mentoring and capital. Together with Cushman and Spire, Pi selected five promising companies from a total of 250 applicants in 50 different countries across the globe.  On June 12th Pi Labs hosted their first 'Demo Day' at Google Campus in Shoreditch, showcasing the 5 participants and giving them the opportunity to present their products and services to potential partners and investors:

First up was Air Sorted, a company that aims to make it easier for anyone to list a property on Air BnB. Air Sorted has an automated booking platform where landlords can book service providers as well as an 'impersonal key exchange' so that landlords don't always have to be at the property to meet and greet tenants. The service works very well in London, especially for offshore landlords and since launching in March, Air Sorted has now listed more than 1,000 properties earning £12,000 per month in just 3 months of operations! Air Sorted's 12 month plan is to expand  operations to Paris - the Air BnB capital - according to co-founder & CEO James Jenkins-Yates.
Update: podcast interview with Tom from Air Sorted

The next showcase was Land Insight, which indexes off market land opportunities across the UK.
With a background in planning Jonny Britton recognised the opportunity to respond to the UK's housing supply crisis, so he got together with software engineer Andy Moist and created a platform where all information concerning land opportunities could be found together in one place. Land Insight reduces the average time to find available land from a current average of about 3 and a half hours to 15 minutes according to Mr Britton. The client base will include self builders, SME developers and large house-builders from across the UK.
Land Insight recently launched their beta program and saw nearly 300 companies sign up for the beta however only 100 of those companies were selected at a cost of £100 per month. Land Insight recently signed heads of terms for a significant round of financing and are now intent to launch London wide in September 2015 and across the UK June 2016.

Office RnD is a platform that addresses the outdated method most flexi-office providers currently organise information regarding floorplans and occupation rates. These outdated methods generate an overall lack of understanding affecting business profitability and the ability to efficiently process company information.
Office RnD aims to address this problem by placing the floorplan and layout of the flexi-office at the centre of the management process, giving managers an opportunity to live edit and also providing analytical feedback along the way.

Rialto is a commercial property platform that empowers brokers and landlords with information so they 'identify and close the right tenants faster'. The platform works equally for both landlords and brokers, and their main competition comes out of the New York market. However the team at Rialto feel they are best placed for the UK market, with current operations in the UK & Belgium. They recently signed up Belgium's KBC Group and also have DTZ, Cushman & Wakefield as well as BNP Paribas already on board.
Update: podcast interview with Nicholas from Rialto 


Wilde Rooms caters to fashion consumers merging online shopping with luxury changing room facilities in an effort to give customers the 'ultimate retail experience.'  Wilde Rooms' research suggests that changing room conversions occur 65% of the time, but online sales conversions are only 2%. The team notes that major retailers John Lewis converts 60% of their 'click and collect' customers and that the trend for retail fashion is   to merge the physical with the digital. The team sites Fartech, Bonbos Hointer and Selfridges as examples.
Update: podcast with Kevin from Wilde Rooms

If you are a startup or prop-tech innovator, we love to hear your story, please email blog(at)renthusiast.com. Next week we will be featuring indepth interviews with CEO's and executives from all of the companies mentioned above.  

9 June 2015

Nestigator aims to end 'fragmented and confusing' neighborhood research

Nestigator is a real estate platform that aims to 'know the world’s billion-plus homes and the neighborhoods they are a part of''.
Choosing a home is one of the most important decisions we make and Nestigator feels it should be based on something more meaningful than what is currently available.
Below, PR manager Fausto Mendez answers a few questions about the new service: 

  • What makes Nestigator different to the other real estate platforms that currently operate in the US?
Nestigator is ending the fragmented and confusing state of real-estate research. There are over a billion homes on the planet right now, and countless ways to find them. But the plethora of incomplete information scattered over countless websites/services can be overwhelming: the number of rooms, some square footage, a few amenities and a guess at value. Is this really what it comes down to, or can one of the most important decisions of your life be based on something more meaningful?
Your home is also your favorite coffee shop on the corner, the teachers at the school down the street, the type of grocery store across the way. It’s the community that shapes your experiences, triumphs and struggles, and it’s what will ultimately shape your future.

The Neighborhoods:
Nestigator's focus is not only to help you research the homes themselves, it teaches you about the neighborhoods that those homes are in. Nestigator is operating nationwide, but our neighborhood feature is only available in Los Angeles right now. This feature will be expanded to more regions over time.
The way the tags are written on the neighborhood pages are poetic and not serious, so they speak to the relevant audience. They give some real character to the region. Another unique feature is that the neighborhoods are clickable and defined on the maps throughout the website.
Even our social-media extends the research experience beyond the home. Our social-media pages highlight great places, businesses, people and neighborhoods all over America.


The Database: 
In the near future, we will have EVERY US-based home in in our database - a feat no other website/service has accomplished. After we catalog the USA, we will do the same for the rest of the World. Since there's about a billion homes on the planet, our slogan is "one in a billion". We want to pair you up with your "one in a billion".

And a lot less work:
However, what makes Nestigator unique is much more than that. We're developing some new features that will be released in the near future. When the next version of Nestigator is released, real-estate research (as we know it) will become a thing of the past, and you may find that you won't be doing much, if any, research at all. I'll update you about those features as soon as they are released.

  • How does Nestigator go about compiling the data that is used to provide the recommendations 
This is a very competitive space, so I can't say too much. But what I can say is that we're using any and every source of data that we can get our hands on. Sometimes, we get this data ourselves.

  • How has the real estate industry responded to Nestigator 
So far I can't speak for our competitors, but I'm sure they're not excited about it. I can say that we've spoken to some real-estate agents, who like our philosophy.

  • So far what have you found to be the most interesting experience or reaction to Nestigator? 
I had a chance to introduce Nestigator to a student that just moved to LA to continue college, and he tried all the different services out there. The complaints are probably something you've heard before: too many services, weird/complex user interfaces, weird/complex features, and not information on what life what like in the neighborhoods of the homes he was looking at.
Now, he got lucky, and he ended up in a nice area of LA. But that was by luck. He had to do all of his research only online, and he was very unfamiliar with LA. When I showed him the neighborhood feature on Nestigator, it was what he really wanted the whole time, and he realized that was the missing foundation to his real-estate research.
Rent, bedrooms and square footage - all of that matters. But your foundation of research needs to be the neighborhood itself. Otherwise, you could end somewhere that doesn't fit you, and on the other side of the coin, with Neighborhood data, you can learn about neighborhoods that fit you even better but maybe you didn't know they existed.