Prop-tech is on the rise, but while most startups in the space are focused on linking buyers with sellers, South African startup Roundr is using tech to simplify vital back-end processes within the industry.
Launched in September 2017 by chief executive Jansen Myburgh and head of communications Daisy Myburgh, Roundr has developed a mobile app that links agents to one another and to their clients in real-time, allowing for simple scheduling, networking and recordkeeping.
“All of these are very necessary yet time consuming tasks in the property sales industry,” said Daisy, who said the opportunity had been identified in a typical “scratch my own itch” case.
“Jansen sold property for several years and he identified a clear need for a simplification of his day-to-day realtor tasks. During busy times he would be making and receiving between 30 and 40 unnecessary calls a day as they often only revolved around the date and time of when a viewing was to take place,” she said.
“A viewing always has several parties connected to it, so there is a domino effect, and a whole lot more phone calls to other agents and clients, when one party wanted to change the plan.
Naturally all other viewings that were arranged for the particular buyer would also feel the domino effect and need to be changed or moved out by an hour.”
Roundr simplifies all of this, putting the listing agent in control of the process. For security, the listing agents’ buyer and seller contact details are never visible to one another, while Roundr keeps an exportable record of all interactions and viewings for the agent, which comes in very handy when it comes to offer negotiation, mandate renewal or commission disputes.
Bootstrapped initially, the startup raised some seed funding towards the end of last year in order to release its first edition. With no competition – Roundr has apparently filed for patents on all its key elements – the platform has been an initial success. It already has around 2,000 users, with new registrations averaging out at about 15 per day.
“We were able to complete a very basic build and release it to a good response in the first couple of months as well as conclude endorsement agreements with both Ooba Home Loans as well as STBB,” Daisy said.
Roundr’s core revenue model is an opt-in monthly subscription for agents to use the platform on an unlimited basis, though agents can choose to remain on a free package for as long as they want, with monthly interactions limited.
“In addition to subscriptions revenue, and because of our app’s unique position in the property market, we are in a unique position to generate valuable leads,” said Daisy.
“We have been approached by businesses in the building and home content insurance, forex, bridging finance, bond origination and conveyancing sectors, and are exploring non-intrusive, by which we mean opt-in only, lead generation structures that will add value to the end user by making it easier to make use of any of these services.”
It is still early days, but Roundr already has plans for international expansion.
“We are using South Africa to establish and refine our offering and after some careful market research, we aim to release into two new markets this year – the UK and Australia,” said Daisy, who added the startup was already building version two of its service.
Though it has mostly been smooth sailing for the Myburghs in rolling out Roundr, getting the startup to where it is now has not been without its challenges.
“We are not looking at changing what estate agents do, but using Roundr does require a shift in how they go about their daily tasks,” said Daisy. “This is a challenging undertaking, but it is inevitable that the majority of people eventually make the shift to using tech to complete their work – it’s not a question of if they will, it’s a question of when, and then of course what tech they will choose to use.”
Nonetheless, eyes are firmly fixed on the future. “We are currently completing version two of both the Android and iOS apps, as well as a complementary desktop version,” she said.