Nested, the London-based startup that is using technology to build a “modern” estate agency and improve the home-selling experience, has raised an additional £5 million. Backing comes from Axel Springer, alongside previous backers Balderton Capital and Northzone.
Described as a “strategic investment,” Nested co-founder and CEO Matt Robinson tells TechCrunch that the round brings the “vast industry experience and resources” of Axel Springer to the board, in advance of a U.K. nationwide launch this year — meaning that the proptech is expanding beyond its current footprint of London.
Pitched as a “modern estate agent,” Nested’s offering pairs local agents with what it claims is industry-leading tools and technology to help them better support home sellers (and buyers). It initially launched by offering to front the cash needed to buy your next home before you had sold your existing one, but now covers the entire house-selling journey.
Most recently, Robinson says Nested has been testing a new “hyper-local” approach so it can better service different neighbourhoods in a huge city like London. The idea, he says, is to give customers the best of both worlds: “a fantastic local agent who knows their area inside out, powered by Nested’s unique technology”.
This saw Nested launch five hyper-local areas in 2020, and Robinson says it has quickly gained up to 15% market share in those local markets. It is planning to launch an additional 30 areas over the next 18 months, as well as moving outside London for the first time.
“We find the best local agents and empower them with unique technology and services versus anyone else in the industry, traditional or online,” says Robinson. “There are some good traditional agents out there but the tools they have to do their job and for the customer to see what’s happening are pre-internet. We take the best local agents and give them tools to instantly be better at their job and give customers a better experience”.
He says that this is very different to online estate agencies, such as Purplebricks, which effectively offer “a DIY option where the agents are set up to fail by having to serve too many customers to give any of them a good service”. Meanwhile, he notes, traditional agents have barely changed in 50 years.
“Customers used to pick us because we had great features and services they couldn’t get anywhere else and great people but it was clear that the vast majority of customers also really value the knowledge and experience of a local agent and we were forcing them to pick between superior features, service and people versus most local,” adds Robinson.
“Our approach now is to give them both. We hire the absolute best local agents, and empower them and our customers with features to manage their sale better than they could anywhere else. For example, our customer account, buying agent and advance”.
Furthermore, Robinson argues that by focusing on each local market, customers benefit from local network effects through cross-selling homes. “We are [also] able to give agents a healthier workload with less travel, meaning more time for clients and better tailored advice”.
As an example of how Nested’s tech helps local agents do a better job, the company recently released updates to its mobile app, which gives home sellers instant access to every aspect of their sale — from viewing feedback and scheduled viewings to even showing what actions their agent has taken to generate enquiries and how many times they have chased up specific enquiries. “All at the tap of a button instead of playing phone tag with your agent,” is how Robinson frames it.