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REA Group boss invests in Sydney tech start-up Housl

Thursday, 7 March 2013 | By Oliver Milman

Greg Ellis, the chief executive of realestate.com.au owner REA Group, has invested in Sydney tech start-up Housl, ahead of an ambitious expansion plan for the new venture.

 

Ellis has taken an undisclosed “minority stake” in Housl, which was devised in-house at BlueChilli, an incubator which specialises in helping build new technology companies.

 

Housl, which had a soft launch in May last year, is a website and app that aims to make the property application process easier for prospective tenants and real estate agents.

 

It allows people to create a profile and apply to multiple property listings via their smartphones, cutting down on the volume of paperwork faced by both consumers and estate agents.

 

The business was co-founded by Daniel O’Brien, with Stuart Rutherford joining as CEO a month ago, replacing Roland Flanagan.

 

Ellis says: "Housl will revolutionise how the real estate industry locally and globally approaches the identification and evaluation of prospective tenants and buyers in the market.”

 

“In comparison to the existing players in this market, in my view Housl is light years ahead. My experience in this area is testament to the quality of the product, and I’m excited to be an investor as real estate is just one application for this technology.”

 

O’Brien adds: “Given the uptake of mobile technology and people’s reliance on making time consuming and frustrating tasks streamlined and fast, the market for Housl is incredible.”

 

“Our initial rollout targets the eastern states of Australia where there are approximately 1.6 million new leases signed every year. That alone will provide a significant revenue stream.”

 

Estate agents are charged a fee, ranging from $150 for multiple users to $250 for a one-off use. The app is free for prospective tenants.

 

Rutherford tells StartupSmart that Housl has aggressive growth ambitions, with the venture already looking beyond the Australian market.

 

“I’m not going to make ridiculous forecasts, but there are some other interested partners,” he says.

 

“We have had interest from overseas investors who are keen to take the model globally, but we want to nail it here in Australia first.”