Blue Chilli’s portfolio company Housl has roped in a high-profile real estate executive as an investor as it seeks momentum in its bid to extend its paperless real estate identity verification system.
The Sydney incubator founded by Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin said Greg Ellis, the CEO of REA Group (ASX:REA) has invested in Housl, adding to strategic partnerships with Deloitte Digital’s GreenID platform and the cloud computing firm Ninefold.
Ellis joins a strong team that already includes co-founder Daniel O’Brien, director of CBRE Asia Pacific and CEO Stuart Rutherford, who has previously held senior positions at McGrath Estate Agents, Fosters/CUB and Levi Strauss & Co.
“Housl will revolutionise how the real estate industry, locally and globally, approaches the identification and evaluation of prospective tenants and buyers in the market,” said Ellis, whose REA Group runs a digital advertising business specialising in property. “In comparison to the existing players in this market, in my view, Housl is light years ahead. My experience in this area is testament to the quality of the product, and I’m excited to be an investor as real estate is just one application for this technology.”
Tech to ease renting woes
Housl has developed a paperless 100-point identity checking process that can help prospective tenants apply via a mobile phone. The company won third place in BRW’s list of Australia’s “most innovative” companies in 2012.
Housl also plans to offer advertisers the tools to specifically target customers. This will help insurance companies, removalists and utility connection companies, among others, to approach tenants who use Housl.
“One of the attractions of the system is the simple manner in which it will help property managers in becoming more efficient and making more informed tenancy decisions,” said Rutherford. “Rather than build a product which only solves half the problem, Housl provides solutions on both sides of the fence, for both the agents / agencies and tenant applicants. Put simply, it solves many current problems and frustrations for both agents and tenants.”
Co-founder Daniel O’Brien is upbeat about both the potential of technology to solve a real problem – time consuming and frustrating tasks in renting – and the size of the potential market for Housl.
“Our initial rollout targets the Eastern States of Australia where there are approximately 1,600,000 new leases signed every year. That alone will provide a significant revenue stream,” said O’Brien.
Blue Chilli focuses on technology companies, primarily web applications. The incubator offers marketing, branding and business development skills to online startups. This “venture technology” partnership enables zero investment in technology, and all capital raised can be used for marketing.