India’s NoBroker raises $7M more to connect home owners with buyers and renters directly

NoBroker, the India-based property startup that wants to make property agents obsolete, has landed $7 million in fresh funding to expand its service.

The company connects property owners with prospective buyers or rental tenants directly with no need for a broker, as the name suggests. NoBroker closed a $10 million Series B funding round in January, and this new raise is an extension of that. It is led by Korea’s KTB Ventures with participation from existing backers SAIF Partners, Beenext and Digital Garage. NoBroker claims this marks the investment in an Indian startup from a Korean investor — Beenext and Digital Garage are both anchored in Japan.

In an interview, NoBroker founders Amit Agarwal and Akhil Gupta told TechCrunch that they didn’t need the capital but were keen to tap into KTB Ventures’ experience and further strengthen their finances.

“It’s good to beef up [the balance sheet] a little bit so we can invest in more marketing and becoming number one in India,” the duo said.

“Their Korean startup experiences will help us further with innovative ideas so that we can continue to grow exponentially. We are at an excellent position now in terms of customer growth and financials. Global network of KTB will also aid us in our future global ambitions,” CEO Agarwal added via a statement.

NoBroker is currently active in four cities — Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune — across which it claims to have “served” 1.5 million customers to date. The company explained that figure combines the number of property owners who have listed at least one location with the number property seekers who have contacted at least one property owner. It broke out that it has racked up a cumulative 500,000 listings and 600,000 downloads of its Android app. (An estimated 95 percent-plus of smartphones in India run Android.)

Gupta added that the firm estimates that each month it helps its customers save around $3 million in fees that would ordinarily go to brokers. (Little wonder, then, that property brokers have literally attacked the company’s offices in the past.)

NoBroker has expanded steadily and slowly, but now it is looking to put its foot on the gas to prove out its business model in its initial four cities. It began monetizing its service for tenants earlier this year and now it is turning its attention to home owners themselves with an initial two packages.

Gupta and Agarwal said they estimate that they have 1,000 monthly paying home owners to start with, and they have phased out the free option for house hunters. The sum of these efforts, the founders hope, is that NoBroker will be at break even over the next 24 months, which means the total capital raised from investors — which now stands at over $20 million — should give the firm around three years of runway.

That focus on monetization is also twinned with a desire to be in India’s most populous cities. The founders want to own “a leadership position” in the current four cities before they expand to five or six more over the next 18 months. There’s no plan to be fully nationwide, Agarwal added, but they do want to take a bite out of India’s top 20 cities, which they estimate to be worth more than $4 billion per year in brokerage fees.

This year, NoBroker experimented with an unannounced pilot in Manila, Philippines, but it is not immediately focused on expanding its service overseas at this point.