SA prop-tech startup HouseME closes its doors citing COVID-19 impact

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South African prop-tech startup HouseME has closed down after failing to raise a funding round necessitated by the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations.

Formed in 2015 and available to the public by the end of 2016, HouseME was a digital platform that connects prospective tenants to landlords with full automation of the letting agency process, and fair and transparent rental pricing – all for a fraction of traditional fees.

The startup took its total secured investment to US$3 million with a funding round in late-2019, and took on some further capital in September of last year. Chief executive officer (CEO) Ben Shaw said at the time the new funding meant HouseME, which claimed to have over 150,000 users, was well positioned to capitalise on the surge of interest in online platforms, and had benefited from the switch to online caused by COVID-19.

Yet this now appears to have not been the case, with HouseME operations having ceased while it waits for a liquidator to be appointed. Besters Attorneys have been appointed in the interim. 

Shaw told Disrupt Africa that the startup had closed as result of an “unsuccessful funding round”, and admitted that COVID-19 had had a material impact on our prospects.

“Happily, although operations have ceased, all leases are being managed by an agency who acquired the lease book,” he said.

Shaw himself left his role in January, and in February became chief commercial officer (CCO) of another Cape Town-based prop-tech startup, reOS. reOS, which has developed a management platform for rental professionals, publicly launched in October of last year with the backing of heavyweight local angels including Bill Paladino and Mark Forrester.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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