GAVL, the real estate tech startup led by Ex-AFL player Joel Smith, has kicked off a planned $6m Series A round with an initial $1.8m in funding from existing investor Harris Capital, the investment office of Flight Centre co-founder Geoff Harris.
Launched in December 2016, GAVL is an auction livestreaming and analytics platform that enables people to watch auctions in real-time or on demand using the company’s app. To date, GAVL has been employed by 200 Australian real estate agencies to broadcast 3,500 auctions, which have attracted 2.5 million views across 47 countries. It counts Ray White, McGrath, Belle Property, Harcourts and LJ Hooker amongst the agencies using its platform to live stream auctions.
“The early growth and adoption of our product by real estate agencies and consumers alike validates the business,” Smith said. “I guess we were always confident it was terrific idea but the last 6 months being in market have proven that.”
Smith and his co-founders Leith Donaldson and Michael Artup plan to use funding from their now-underway Series A round to enable app users, worldwide, to remotely bid on auctions in real-time using one of eight major currencies. The founding team will also put proceeds towards expanding their sales team and rolling out further platform enhancements such as digital contract signing, AI integration, 360-degree camera and deposit transfer facilitation between buyer and seller via the agent.
Smith, who spoke to Dynamic Business about GAVL in March, caught up with the publication to discuss the startup’s Series A round and why it’s an ‘exciting time’ for the real estate market.
DB: How are your plans for remote bidding tracking – where is the tech at?
Smith: As far as the technology is concerned, we’ve built the functionality to allow someone to place bids via the Gavl app and communicate them to the agent and auctioneer at the auction – so we’re ready to go. It’s just now a matter of working with agencies to facilitate a buyer using the platform to place their bids remotely, making sure all parties are comfortable.
DB: Aside from injected $4.3m into GAVL, what does Harris Capital offer?
Smith: Harris Capital have provided us with so much more than just capital – between them, Geoff and his son Brad, who the managing director of Harris Capital, have decades of experience taking startups global. In the same way, as we seek to raise our next $4.2m, to complete our Series A round, we’ll be considering more than just the money. We’re looking for investors that bring knowledge, expertise and/or networks to the company. This might be from within the real estate industry or other relevant sectors such as technology, communications, marketing, etc.
DB: What are your thoughts on the startups popping up in real-estate?
Smith: With any fairly traditionally operated industry, there are going to be digital businesses knocking on the door to try and offer solutions to industry challenges more efficiently and effectively as technology allows them. This makes for a very exciting time for the real estate market. With so much innovation and change happening in all facets, I think it can only improve the experience of the consumer and the ability of the key stakeholders within to engage their customers.
DB: Are other startups your rivals or are they too busy with their own niches?
Smith: As you rightly point out, there are a lot of niches for a startup to tackle. In our case, whilst we don’t think any competitor is directly offering our full suite of products and services, we’re not naïve to think that won’t change, so we’re constantly looking to improve, add features, add technologies that better our product and the experience of our customers.
See also: Gavl’s Joel Smith on his tech start-up’s recent success, bringing real estate into digital age