A Melbourne start-up is capitalising on our love affair with auctions by developing an app to enable consumers to watch auctions either live or on demand from anywhere in the world. A potential buyer can “virtually” attend dozens of auctions across several states over a weekend.
In the first month of operation, more than 100 real estate agencies have used the platform across Australia and New Zealand, in both metro and regional areas. Gavl has also had almost 500,000 auction video views and app downloads in 12 countries. One auction in Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula has been viewed more than 22,000 times.
“All it takes is a tripod and a smartphone to film the auction and then potential buyers can view live via the App,” said Gavl CEO Joel Smith, the former AFL player for Hawthorn.
How will Gavl revolutionise the property market?
“Real-estate auctions have been the same format for a 100 years. If you want to buy a house at auction, you physically turn up to the property at specific time and bid your hardest. Gavl simply broadcasts this auction to the digital world to allow a bigger audience to interact,” Mr Smith highlighted.
Consumers are able to search for auctions on the site in nearly 10 ways – including by price, auction status or suburb – and look at the bidding history of those that have already gone under the hammer. In another potential game changer for the industry, Gavl is working on adding live bidding to the platform.
“We are close to finalising features for the App that will give agents the ability to allow their buyers to communicate bids from the App while watching the live stream,” he revealed.
“Quite simply, Gavl will allow a real estate buyer to purchase a property at auction without physically having to be there. Real estate is one of the very few industries in the world left which still requires a buyer and seller to be physically present.
“Gavl allows a buyer to watch an auction remotely, communicate bids with the real estate agent/auctioneer and ultimately purchase the property digitally. It means buyers can be in more than one place at a time, even buy from another country. And it allows the vendor to broaden the potential purchaser of their property past the handful of people watching onsite.
Also in the works are features such as digital exchange of contracts, a currency converter and bidding history analytics. It is currently available on iOS App, Android and gavl.com.au.
Mr Smith said he did not think Gavl would result in fewer people physically attending auctions.
“Real estate auctions are an Australian institution. We love the theatre of a live auction. Gavl is a bit like watching footy or cricket – it is here to provide another way for consumer to be able to watch and interact without physically being there – adding to the potential audience not taking away from it.”
Gavl has already attracted investment
Gavl has had significant investment from well-known businessman, philanthropist and venture capitalist Geoff Harris, the Flight Centre co-founder, Boost Juice seed investor and former Hawthorn Football Club Vice-President.
“I get dozens of company investment opportunities pitched to me every year. Gavl is one of the select few that I have invested in. This is one of the most exciting businesses I have seen in a long time. I believe this will revolutionise the way people purchase property.
“The market in Australia in enormous with about 100,000 auctions annually – 85,000 of those in NSW and Victoria. Then there is obviously overseas!”
Mr Harris said he was attracted to invest in Gavl because it was not a traditional disruptor.
“This is not an industry disruptor, this is an industry enabler, allowing more potential customers to view and bid on properties, meaning a win for purchasers, vendors and Real estate agents alike.
“Anything that broadens the audience for an auction to potential buyers who can’t physically attend is a good thing for the industry.”
Tackling the problem of latency
Gavl developers have also spent considerable time cracking the major issue of live streaming – latency. “We can’t afford to have any delay on the broadcast of our auctions. They move fast, and even a five second delay can be way too late for a bid to be relevant. Other prominent live streaming platforms can have a delay in excess of 10 seconds but with Gavl our latency is about a second – as live as you can get!” Mr Smith told Anthill.
“We have achieved this through 18 months of R&D, trial and error and using the best developers from all over the world to address our very specific and niche market,” he said.
“Creating a custom built product, to suit our specific need has also allowed us to focus on what is really important – low latency, consistency and high quality picture. Some of the other streaming platforms for instance have much wider case uses, so they need to be more accommodating to outside factors that we don’t. Others might be restricted by third party software limitations.
“We’ve had streaming experts from the US, Europe, China and of course Australia all work together to finely tune our product to deliver latency which is consistent for every stream we broadcast. It’s been easily the biggest challenge we’ve had in building our platform.”