In an effort to grow their artificial intelligence (AI) technology capabilities, a Melbourne-based proptech start-up has completed its first funding seed round, with the support of some big backers.
Property management technology provider Rental Heroes has raised $1 million from the round, which was led by Australian seed investment group Investible.
According to the start-up, new funding came from existing investor Artesian as well as US-based Hustle Fund and the Menulog ANZ managing director, Morten Birk Belling.
The funding will be used to build a sales team, launch new end-user communication channels, and expand the capability of “Alex”, Rental Heroes’ AI-powered chatbot.
Rental Heroes also has plans to sustainably make moves into the US and the UK markets via existing integration partnerships, according to co-founder and COO Dominik Chmielewski.
Rental Heroes only launched in January 2020, but it already boasts a user base of more than 40,000, with customers including LJ Hooker, Century 21, First National, Professionals, Raine & Horne and Jellis Craig.
Ben Burton, co-founder and CEO of Rental Heroes, said there’s currently a huge opportunity for new software technology that’s driven by increased regulation and COVID-19.
“The residential property management industry has experienced more change in the last 12 months than the last decade, which has seen property managers rapidly adapt to new systems and processes,” Mr Burton said.
He added that with so much change, many property managers have left the industry — “with almost 9,000 open property management roles advertised in 2021”.
“Business owners and department heads simply cannot fill property manager roles and are looking to AI technology to help fill the gap,” Mr Burton said.
Investible investment director Daniel Veytsblit has reflected on his first meeting with Rental Heroes’ co-founders back in 2019, at an Investible Games event. He said the team has demonstrated it has the industry knowledge, passion and drive to stand out in a competitive proptech market.
“Ben and Dom have already proven Rental Heroes’ value to the property management ecosystem and have a significant vision to make property management more efficient for all participants: agents, landlords, renters as well as service providers,” the director commented.
“We look forward to working with the team to create meaningful change in an industry that impacts the day-to-day lives of so many.”
New investor Mr Belling, the managing director of Menulog ANZ, said that when he heard about the Rental Heroes story, he “couldn’t help but see the opportunity Rental Heroes has in market”.
“Ben and Dom have built a really promising foundation, and with my experience in technology and marketplace businesses, I look forward to giving them a steer as they scale within Australia and beyond,” Mr Belling said.
Hustle Fund general partner Shiyan Koh added: “We see the opportunity Rental Heroes has to apply their technology to US use cases, including the 40 million multi-family unit rental market.”
With their vision to create “brilliant” rental experiences for tenants, property managers and landlords, Mr Chmielewski has said that his own experience as a tenant showed him how tough the job of a property manager is.
“You are juggling the interests of tenants, landlords and trades. With so much time spent communicating via phone and email, we thought there must be a better way,” he said.
He has explained their decision not to base the technology on an app, website or portal — with tenants instead interacting with “Alex”, their digital property assistant, via Messenger.
“By using an existing channel, we remove a key barrier to adoption, which is downloading a new app or remembering your portal password. On the property manager side, the data flows seamlessly between our digital assistant and the property managers’ existing systems,” he said.