Singapore based proptech startup Propeller is on a mission to make real estate transactions more efficient and data-driven for both sellers and buyers. Its platform is able to tell users the likelihood of conversion at every step of the way. Propseller today announced that it has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Vertex Ventures in Southeast Asia and India.
Other investors participating in the round include returning backers Hustle Fund, Iterative and Rapzo Capital, along with new investors Partech, ICCP SBIT, Vulpes Ventures and Redbadge Pacific. It also features several prominent proptech founders, such as Jani Rautianen of PropertyGuru, Marta Higuera of OpenAgent, Steffen Wicker of Homeday and Tushar Garg of Flyhomes.
Founded in 2018, Propseller will use its Series A to scale its business model, expand its offerings (including adding services such as relocation) and enter overseas markets. It currently has about 50 employees, including 20 tenured real estate agents (or consultants, as the startup calls them), and plans to hire another 200 people for its marketing, operations, product, engineering and sales, and real estate teams.
Using technology to make the real estate buying/selling process more efficient, Propseller is also able to charge just 1% commission, as opposed to 2% for traditional real estate agencies, said its founder and CEO Adrien Jorge to TechCrunch.
Jorge became interested in real estate while growing up in Nice, France. He says that people in his family either became engineers or real estate agents, and he noticed that the latter group made more money than the engineers. Curiously, Jorge joined his mother’s real estate agency at the age of 14 and stayed there until the age of 22. But when his grandfather asks him if he wants to take over the business, Jorge decides against it.
One of his reasons was that the traditional real estate agency model was difficult to scale and very manual, and often charged commissions that could hardly be justified. Instead, Jorge went on to work for technology companies, including six years at Groupon, where he held positions including general manager of Southeast Asia.
While looking for investment opportunities, Jorge encountered the inconvenience of buying real estate in Southeast Asia. For example, he says property prices are often high, but service from traditional brokerages often leaves a lot to be desired. He attributes this to the fragmentation of the Southeast Asian real estate market, with 200,000 agents in Southeast Asia completing an average of just two transactions a year.
As a result, Jorge saw an opportunity to build a platform to help people sell their homes faster, with transparency and the least hassle.
The reason Propseller calls its licensed real estate agents consultants is because the company’s automation gives them time to work on client relationships. On average, Propseller consultants close about 55 sales transactions per year, which also means they make more revenue.
“We’re probably the only company in Singapore that tells you what the expected conversion rate is for leads coming from PropertyGuru or 99.coJorge said. This means that when a lead is generated, it can be tracked from start to finish, so salespeople and consultants know how likely each step of the process is to successfully complete.
Viewings are usually done offline, but Propseller also does video and VR viewings for each property. Sellers can stay on top of the process with a dashboard that shows them what channels their property is being distributed through, inquiries generated, scheduled viewings and offers.
The COVID pandemic has made people more likely to buy big-ticket items online, and many who will continue to work from home are looking for larger properties. As the pandemic gradually subsides, Jorge believes these trends will continue.
The company’s main competition is the 34,000 independent agents in Singapore, who own about 99% of the real estate market. Proptech’s competitors include Own My Home and Blue Nest in Singapore, Red Fin in the US and Flyhomes to some extent, Jorge said.
Propseller features an end-to-end real estate transaction platform, Jorge said. “We’ve broken down every step of the process, recording everything that happens, and we’re able to record data that no one else has and identify how that process can be optimized to get the best results.”
In a prepared statement, Vertex Ventures managing partner for Southeast Asia and India Carmen Yuen said Propseller is “revolutionizing the way we transact our homes more time and cost efficiently using technology and data. We have been following the Propseller team for over two years now and they have demonstrated impressive resilience and growth over the years.”