Increasingly, startups operating in the real estate space are becoming the subject of investor interest, and Egyptian company iCommunity is the latest beneficiary.
Founded in 2016, iCommunity is a community management platform and private social network that connects residents, real estate developers, and facility management all in a single, unified, extensible solution.
Disrupt Africa reported last week the startup raised US$600,000 in Series A funding from VC firm Algebra Ventures for further growth at home and internationally after seeing significant initial uptake.
“Uptake has been great and our strategy worked well. We started by reaching out to the top real estate developers and homeowners associations. This really worked as we are now known and clients reach out to us requesting iCommunity,” chairman and managing director Karim Akram told Disrupt Africa.
iCommunity, which had its first launch in the summer of 2016 with one of the biggest real estate developers in Egypt, offers gated communities a private social network to simplify residents’ home experiences.
“It is a platform that addresses all touch points between residents and management. This goes from connecting with neighbours, requesting services, reporting issues, managing gate security, as well as paying bills,” Akram said.
The startup was founded after Akram and his team noted the growing number of gated communities in Egypt, and the divide between residents and management.
“Real Estate developers design and build nice compounds but only focus on facility management after people move in,” said Akram. “They completely miss the full property management scope. We saw that we can focus the touch points between the two groups to help improve the communication and management, and also use the platform to bring residents together, building closer communities.”
This was a wholly new concept in Egypt at the time of launch, though Akram said it is now starting to see competition from other firms. The funding from Algebra should help iCommunity grow faster, however, as well as launch elsewhere.
“We want to grow our team to add key additional capabilities and also expand outside Egypt. We plan to grow in Africa and Middle East,” said Akram.
“We started looking at some Middle East and Africa markets, mainly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya and South Africa. We have also got requests from different markets, like Panama, the United States and Nigeria, which we are studying. We want to grow fast but cautiously.”
Currently, iCommunity makes money in annual licence fees from its clients, but Akram said the plan is to change the monetisation model by leveraging its database to provide relevant and timely services.
“Unlike most businesses that have a product and want to reach a client, we have the clients and need to decide what to do with them,” he said.
“We know who lives where and what is the family size, the unit type and also if they live in it, are renting it, or finishing it. With this we are able to use the iCommunity platform to partner with different providers in different ways to address our customers’ needs.”
This move will see iCommunity provide services such as cleaning, allow homeowners to pay bills, and sell items such as furniture and home security systems.
“The opportunities are limitless, but we just need to stay focused on what the customers need,” said Akram.