PropTech Roundup – March 2021

March saw the Chancellor outline the new budget, the vaccine rollout continue, and lockdown restrictions start to ease. Here’s what’s happened this month in the UK PropTech industry…

Agency marketing platform snaffles live chat and customer experience provider in move to extend services

The platform BriefYourMarket has bought Yomdel to improve its service to clients by increasing technology-driven marketing and expanding customer experience capacity.

BriefYourMarket CEO, Damon Bullimore, has greatly admired the team at Yomdel and had them in his sights for some time, given the close fit of services offered by both companies and the synergy of their plans for the future.

Yomdel was founded in 2014 by Andy Soloman and its present COO, Tim Breden, who say they are ‘incredibly proud’ of the business they have built. They have always said if they were to join forces with another company, it would have to be with the right partner, one with the knowledge and resources to implement the technological plans they have for the business.

When BriefYourMarket approached Yomdel and they shared their aims and objectives, they both knew joining forces would be a no-brainer for them and, most importantly, for their many clients and partners. The integration will enable both parties to carry out ambitious and novel plans to help agents grow their businesses quickly and increase market share and revenue.

Knight Frank joins world’s largest proptech investment club

US tech fund Fifth Wall, which has launched its latest offering for UK and European start-ups, has gained a new investor in the shape of the renowned estate agency making its most significant commitment to proptech so far.

Knight Frank has poured large sums into proptech in recent years, including investment in and partnerships with some residential platforms. 

But the company’s latest investment in the largest venture capital firm in the world, raises its game to a whole new level.

The money raised from Knight Frank and others will be invested in UK and European proptech start-ups in the buying, selling, renting and building sectors. Other investors include British Land, BNP Parisbas and CBRE, all of whom want to present themselves to residential and commercial clients as ‘clued in’ to the future direction of property.

Alistair Elliott, Group Chairman of Knight Frank, states the key objective is to maintain active involvement in the dynamic proptech arena, while ensuring the company is willing and able to adopt new technology to improve client service. 

Brendan Wallace, Fifth Wall co-founder, admits that while the interface  between tech and real estate is complex, Fifth Wall was founded with the goal of helping companies such as Knight Frank delineate and speed up their strategy of adopting new technology.

OnTheMarket now owns expanding proptech platform

Property portal OnTheMarket now owns outright proptech firm Glanty, best known for its lettings platform teclet, a cloud-based software service. The latter’s revenues increased in 2020 by 76pc to £876,000. 

OTM expects the proptech firm may require some limited investment in the short-term, while it seeks to further develop its products and services. OTM bought an initial 20pc stake in Glanty in December 2019 and Jason Tebb, the new CEO, says the purchase of the remaining 80pc will occur in a deal planned to be finalised by May 28.

The release of new products offering efficiency savings for estate agents are expected to quicken OTM’s digital commerce strategies.

These include partnerships which will offer agents the opportunity to earn income by presenting buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords directly with products and services that they can purchase at relevant points in their property journey.

Tebb says as part of their strategy, they will integrate Glanty’s products into their own range to create even better value for residential sales agents and lettings agents. OTM will support increased efficiency in their businesses by building tools and providing best-in-class software that will help agents gain a competitive edge. 

Sheffield proptech start-up to aim nationwide after doubling workforce

South Yorkshire-based Vouch now has a team of 24 after more than doubling its workforce over the last 12 months, up from 11 in March 2020, due to increased demand for its services. 

Vouch, founded by married couple Simon and Jaime Tillyer three years ago, specialises in the digitisation of the referencing process for letting agents. The start-up also offers rent protection insurance and a utility service that earns revenue for agents.

While staying true to their South Yorkshire roots, the husband and wife duo hope to become one of the UK’s largest suppliers of digitised referencing services.

Simon Tillyer said they had made a lot of effort to grow their team this year and are proud to say they are staffed entirely by people from Sheffield, where the firm was founded and its headquarters remain today.

He added that their strong roots typify the innovation emanating from the North that sets them apart from others in the proptech industry. Regardless of how large their team grows though, he is confident they will always remain a people-friendly company. 

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