Markus Kahlbetzer’s BridgeLane Group is backing Airtasker co-founder Jonathan Lui’s new “LinkedIn for property” venture Soho, endowing the start-up with a $1.65 million capital injection as it eyes up competition with REA Group and Domain.
The start-up had not planned to raise funds until the second half of 2018, but Mr Lui said it had attracted the attention of investors after its launch in September 2017.
Just as LinkedIn is used to headhunt employees, Mr Lui said Soho enabled a “digital doorknock”, so that other property owners can connect and potentially arrange their own sales.
He said that since launching last year it had signed up 5000 properties and had more than 10,000 app downloads, predominantly in Australia and Singapore.
The $1.65 million raised brings the company’s total to $2.65 million, with Mr Lui having raised an early round from private investors prior to launching.
“[The capital] will primarily go towards boosting the size of the team and also software development. We are doing integrations with tools the industry use like customer relationship management [software] like Agentbox,” he said.
He said the company was still sufficiently funded from the first raise and the latest round would see it through for at least 18 months.
The app is free to use and the company has signed on real estate agencies such as Ray White, McGrath and Harcourts, as well as Propnex and Huttons, which are well-known agents in Singapore.
Mr Lui said his priority was currently growing its user base, rather than revenue, but he has plans to introduce a premium version of the product for a subscription fee, similar to LinkedIn.
“There needs to be more liquidity. When you look at the property market in Australia at any point in time less than 1 per cent is available, but the residential market is valued at over $7 trillion,” he said.