Flow in South Africa secures funding to automate social media advertising for real estate agencies • TechCrunch
The process used by millions of agents and thousands of real estate portals around the world to reach buyers and sellers on digital channels is highly fragmented. And it’s obvious that proptech, unlike other industries, has lagged behind in using social media to make sales.
South African startup Flow wants to change the way real estate agencies, developers and agents interact with their end customers. With its APIs, Flow connects to the websites of real estate agencies and property developers and automates advertising for them on social media channels like Instagram and Facebook. The proptech marketing platform announces that it has raised $4.5M in pre-Series A funding.
The proptech intends to use the funding to include other social media platforms such as TikTok and LinkedIn and other advertising channels like outdoor billboards. The investment will allow co-founders and co-CEOs Gil Sperling and Daniel Levy to drive the company’s B2B growth strategy and integrate Flow’s social media-focused property marketing platform into international property portals and existing CRM platforms.
Sperling and Levy founded Flow in 2017 as an app that rewards tenants for early rent payments. However, prior to Flow, the two founders had previously established an advertising technology and performance marketing company, Popimedia, which was the largest buyer of Facebook media inventory in Africa for some of the world’s biggest brands. While they sold the business to global communications group Publicis in 2016, it was partly on the knowledge gained while running Popimedia that they relied to pivot Flow into its current business model four years later.
“With our first adtech company, we never dealt with real estate or property because we could never really maintain them in this country. [South Africa] . And the biggest problem was that while real estate is the largest asset class in the world and a very valuable vertical, it’s the least innovated because it’s so fragmented,” Sperling told TechCrunch during an interview. a call.
“When buying and selling homes, if you take South Africa, for example, 40,000 agents are marketing 300,000 listings at any one time. Every agent is basically a small company because they’re commissioners, and there’s no way they can afford to each have a marketing, data science, and design department like larger companies can do it, and that’s one of the reasons we couldn’t run ads or performance marketing for a lot of them. »
With Flow, the founders want real estate agencies and property developers they couldn’t reach with their former startup to connect with customers across digital channels. The proptech startup automates realtor marketing for developers and works hand-in-hand with real estate websites such as Property24 and Private Property to pull listings and automatically create ads on Facebook, Instagram and other digital channels.
According to Flow, its proptech marketing platform improves agent earnings and the experiences of property buyers and sellers. On the other hand, Levy points out that the startup makes money when these agents use its SaaS platform and through a percentage reduction in their marketing spend. He added that revenue was up 20% month-on-month over the past year.
“Our route to market, for the most part, has been door-to-door from franchisor to franchisee to different offices within that group. And over the last two months we have identified the business channel , as we call it, which is more associated with our technology’s dedication to portals,” the co-CEO said. “So our next phase of traction and growth will come from those relationships, which are important in our world. And that’s why we just went through this capital raise to basically experience that.
Flow currently has over 300 clients using its platform – one client being a real estate agency or property developer where each office has around 15-20 smaller agents. So, more broadly, Flow is used by almost 6,000 agents in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius and Australia. It is in talks with partners, mainly property portals and CRM platforms, to expand into Europe (France, Germany, Belgium and the UK) where it will face stiffer competition – than the co-founders hope Flow will stand out with its technology and attention to design — but a broader market base.
Futuregrowth Asset Management led Flow’s pre-Series A round with $2 million. Endeavor Harvest Fund and serial entrepreneur Steven Heilbron participated, while existing investors Kalon Venture Partners, Vunani Fintech Fund and Buffet Investments also doubled down.
“We have carefully followed Flow’s progress in South Africa and Australia and its integration into the B2B sector of the global real estate industry as the next natural step in the evolution of the business,” said Amrish Narrandes, Head of Private Equity and Venture Capital at Futuregrowth Asset Management. on investment. “We share Daniel and Gil’s vision of bringing the real estate industry into the 21st century and know they have the expertise and experience to make it happen – and we are thrilled to be able to be part of a southern company. company that is taking bold steps that bring much-needed change to a vital global industry.