Goodlord, a U.K. startup that has built a platform to handle transactions and the “paperwork” normally associated with renting a home, has raised £7.2 million in Series A funding. Rocket Internet’s GFC led the round, with participation from existing backer LocalGlobe and new investor Ribbit Capital.
That the Silicon Valley-based VC has joined the round is noteworthy. Ribbit is known for its fintech focus, but in some ways Goodlord can be seen as more financial tech than property tech in the sense the company wants to be the “transactional architecture” behind rental transactions. This includes handling (and taking a cut of) payments, as well as offering add-on financial services such as landlord insurance.
“We see huge potential for disruption in the way that rental property in the U.K. is transacted,” says Meyer Malka, partner at Ribbit Capital, in a statement. “Goodlord is using technology to build transparency and ease of use for one of the most important moments in a consumer life: choosing a home to live in.”
Or, put another way, co-founder and CEO Richard White tells me that Goodlord wants to make it “as easy to rent a home as it is to make online payments with PayPal.”
“We want to take away the stigma of renting and professionalize the service tenants and landlords receive through lettings agents,” he says. “At the same time, we can significantly cut costs and administration for agents by automating and digitizing the entire letting process.”
In other words, unlike other startups in the rental market space that want to essentially destroy traditional brick ‘n mortar letting agents with an online equivalent, Goodlord’s Software-as-a-Service is designed to support all stakeholders, including traditional high-street letting agents, as well as landlords and, of course, tenants.
The Goodlord SaaS enables letting agents to “digitize” the moving-in process, including utilizing e-signatures and collecting rental payments online. In addition to landlord insurance, new services are being introduced, such as rental guarantees, and “tenant passports.”
The latter means that, as Goodlord reaches scale, it should be possible for a tenant to easily take their rental transaction history and landlord references with them when moving from one rental property to another as proof that they are a trustworthy tenant.
As it stands, Goodlord provides a white-label platform for 355 estate agencies nationwide, both online and traditional letting agents. These include Sothebys, Strutt & Parker, Life Residential and RE/MAX, as well as much smaller independents.
Finally, eagle-eyed readers may have noted an anomaly (or perhaps not) in regards to GFC’s further backing of Goodlord. The Rocket Internet venture arm also recently invested in U.K. online letting agent OpenRent, which, let’s just say, has lots of potential overlap with the space that Goodlord is occupying, and vice versa.