The prominent VC firm led a $2.5 million Series A round, which included participation from existing investor 500 Startups, that will go towards strengthening ZipMatch’s domestic business and expanding in Southeast Asia.
ZipMatch, which previously raised $1 million, covers both property sales and rentals. CEO and co-founder John Dang told TechCrunch in an interview that it aims to go beyond traditional listings by giving visitors access to a variety of information and photos about each property. To that end, the company dispatches employees to take 360 degree photos of buildings and compile extensive reports on houses and condos.
The company is also ambitious in its scope. It aims to capture information about every condominium building in a city so that renters don’t miss out on a property.
Dang said, though, it currently sees more business with property sales than rentals at this point. ZipMatch covers both existing properties that are for sale, and pre-sales for new development. Unlike some that aim to disrupt the industry entirely, ZipMatch works with the incumbents.
“Real estate is still a very traditional process,” he said, explaining that brokers and agencies are very much needed for paperwork and other reasons. “We are empowering the professionals to do a better job — [through coaching and advice] we also incentivize them to behave properly with their customers.”
“Existing classifieds use an advertising-based model [that lets anyone’s listing stand above the others] and it just isn’t very good. Frankly, real estate professionals are not good at content, they are good at selling — we let them focus on that,” Dang added.
Beyond just helping facilitate home buying and rentals, ZipMatch also matches users with property brokers and home loans. Dang said that makes it ideal for first-time buyers. The company generates revenue via lead-generation for financial partners, and charging a subscription to agents who list their details on the site. (That second part is an easy sell if ZipMatch already lists buildings the agent is letting.)
The ZipMatch CEO didn’t provide specifics about the company’s expansion plans, but he envisages that it could move into three or four countries in Southeast Asia over the next 18 months. That will be one expansion at a time though and it is “currently analyzing” opportunities.
This Series A will also go expanding ZipMatch’s coverage of the Philippines, Manila is “nearly complete,” Cebu and Davao are next on the list. The startup is also further developing its platform to include more backend integrations for property industry professionals.
99.co, a similar property site in Singapore run by serial entrepreneurs that share a similar ethos, raised $1.6 million in January and spoke of its desire to expand across the region, perhaps using acquisition as one method.
When I put it to Dang that ZipMatch would be a realistic target, said he was flattered but that company remains focused on making a difference in its home market.
“We want to fix the [property sales and rental] problem here in the Philippines,” he said. “We’re not thinking about anything else until we feel like we’ve solved that.”