It’s been fantastic to see Australia’s big corporates get actively involved in innovation and supporting startups even at the very early stage.
Both side of this equation can benefit from closer collaboration: corporations often have the resources to support new ventures – more than just financial resources they can offer existing customers, distribution channels, brand recognition, valuable data and market insights. Startups on the other hand bring a fresh perspective, a higher tolerance to risk and a highly agile approach unhindered by the daily focus a corporation must have on its core business.
One such recent collaboration that has proved very successful is the Westpac Innovation Challenge.
Over the past few weeks, we challenged Australia’s tech start-up community to offer their best ideas toward helping businesses in the Real Estate sector leverage digital technology to grow their businesses. We have been overwhelmed by the response and have invited the entrepreneurs with the top 5 entries to present in person to the selection panel made up of leaders from Westpac, BlueChilli, and Reinventure.
In just two weeks, BlueChilli’s startup advisors worked with each of the companies to go from ideas, through customer discovery and validation to a polished pitch that we expect will blow the judges away this Wednesday 19 November.
The private pitch event is by invitation only, but here is a sneaky peek at the Top 5 companies for all you curious cats:
realAs.com (Property Price Comparison)
realAs is a free website and app that helps home buyers and investors find out what homes will really sell for.
Similar to its America counterparts Zillow and Trulia, the app provides accurate predictions of property sale prices alongside a forum where buyers can exchange information about individual homes. The biggest advantage of realAs is that its prediction accuracy is much higher than anything else available, both locally and internationally.
realAs has been operating since August this year and CEO Josh Rowe says already almost two-thirds of its predictions are within 5 per cent of the final sale price. 90% of its predictions are within 10%
In Australia’s hot property market, creating an app that could leverage his expertise to help more than just his one-on-one clients was the next logical step, so the realAs team enlisted RMIT’s machine learning specialists to codify David’s 40 years of knowledge.
“Property buyers are in desperate need of this product, which is probably why we’re seeing such a rapid uptake in users,” Josh said.
“We’re getting around 10,000 unique monthly visitors to the site, and a massive 50% of those visitors download the app and subscribe to our updates.”
You can take the app for a test drive at realAs.com
StickyBeak (Mobile property marketing platform)
A big problem for real estate agents is knowing their potential buyers. Right now web analytics can help agents gauge interest and gather valuable data from a listed property’s online activity, but there is no data connecting the individuals who search, view and favourite properties online with those individuals who show up for viewings.
“It’s a huge opportunity to work on crossing this great divide that occurs between the online and offline components on every home buyer’s journey,” says CEO Matt Pope.
Sydney-based StickyBeak provides a solution that blends hardware and software to make for an easy tool for agents to use. It uses iBeacon location technology to deliver relevant content (including augmented reality content in the future) to signed-in potential home buyers as they visit a property. This information would only be available once inside the property, protecting the existing home owners from revealing too much sensitive information about their home online.
By uploading the additional information onto the StickyBeak CMS portal, agents can ensure delivery of all the right information at specific points in the house, creating a tailored and more informed viewing experience to visitors who sign in to the app to access the content.
Suburbarian (Suburb sentiment comparison tool
When you’re looking to buy or rent a new place, there are lots of quantitative information available to base your decision on – information on median house prices, historical value fluctuations and financial predictions. But often times it’s the more qualitative and emotional aspects which guides that decision, and that is much harder to uncover. What if you could find out what the locals think about all those emotional aspects of a particular suburb at the click of a button? You soon could if the “Suburbarian” app is developed.
Suburbian will give potential buyers and renters information on practical aspects like not just how many schools there are in a suburb, but what people think about the schools, and also less tangible but very important lifestyle attributes like trendiness, culture and culture.
“Knowing what the locals and visitors think about the area you’re looking to buy in gives you a deeper understanding of that market and whether it’s the right place for you to live to suit your lifestyle”, says Melbourne-based CEO Alex Levashov.
The tool works by analysing sentiment on social media platforms including Twitter and producing reports that give scores on popularity, sentiment ratings and descriptions for typical attributes. For example, South Melbourne is ranked 85 on popularity, sentiment is +6 positive and people regularly describe it as “sunny, trendy, expensive”. The app can even tell you if “expensive” relates to people’s views on property, the price of coffee or school fees in the suburb for example.
SNAP (Tenant & Property Manager communication app)
As a Real Estate Specialist, Jimmy Tat experienced years of dealing with the inefficient process for communicating between tenants and landlords. Deciding to take action, he joined forces with his co-founder, Gin Foo, to start SNAP – a mobile app for tenants and landlords to have direct real time engagement with their property managers.
The app will allow tenants to log messages about urgent repairs and other property issues in under two minutes, and give landlords access to financial statements, inspection reports and log messages direct to their property managers. All parties stay in the loop and the consolidated platform enables seamless communication and resolution in record time.
According to the founders who have experience on both sides of the table, the number one complaint for both tenants and landlords is the time it takes property managers to communicate with them and respond to their request.
“Property managers are always on the road, and that makes it difficult for them to keep on top of requests coming from their landlords and tenants. Having an easy to use app on their mobile devices would effectively make agents available 24/7, with workflows that even allow for direct call-outs to pre-approved trades people in case of after-hours emergency repairs.”
PropertyShares (Crowd funding for investment properties)
Melbourne-based Christopher Scott Price wants to help people buy shares in private real estate investments for as little as $1000.
“What if investing into properties were as easy, enjoyable and rewarding as investing into Kickstarter projects?,” he challenges.
That musing is why Scott is developing an online investment platform, PropertyShares, that allows users in Australia and overseas to invest in properties without having to attend endless inspections and auctions.
Buyers will be able to chip in for anything from $1000 to 100 per cent of the property’s finance requirements online from anywhere in the world.
“There is a real appetite to invest in the Australian property market, but as people become more time poor it’s getting harder and harder to find the time to do all the research and work out which properties to invest in and how much to spend. There’s a lack of access and transparency. That’s where our platform can step in, and with our excellent board of advisors and skills in the team we’re set to be the leader in this field,” says Scott.