In an exclusive chat with e27, John Dang, Co-founder, ZipMatch, announced that the firm has raised US$550,000 in funding from current investors 500 Startups; IMJ Investment Partners; and Deron Quon, CEO, Collective Solutions; as well as new investors Teruhide Sato, CEO, Netprice; and Dirk Van Quaquebeke, Co-founder, Alps Venture.
To date, the Philippines-based online property marketplace has raised a total of US$1 million, added Dang. It had previously announced securing an undisclosed amount from investors including IMJ Investment Partners, 500 Startups, IdeaSpace and Hatchd Digital.
The funds will be used to scale the Manila-based team, which consists of 30 staff members, and expand the business throughout the Philippines. Going forward, the company plans to move into other major cities like Cebu and Davao. It is still undetermined if ZipMatch will open its office in those cities.
When asked about listings, Dang emphasised that the firm is looking to move away from the classifieds business, and boosting its concierge feature. That will be ZipMatch’s main differentiator, allowing it to gain an edge over its competitors. With the concierge service, the firm touts a streamlined, hassle-free experience for prospective home owners who might not want to comb through thousands of listings just to find one that suits their needs.
He also noted three main reasons behind working with the aforementioned investors. Firstly, these investors believe in what ZipMatch is up to and heading towards. “They (investors) are bullish in our vision,” he said. Secondly, they are entrepreneurial, given their past experience as founders at one point or another. This allows investors to better understand the startup’s point of view. Lastly, they have access and a network in larger capital markets which might not be available in the Philippines.
The professional crowd
Since launching ZipMatch in 2012, Dang and his team has built three separate products for the real estate industry, catering for three different crowds — real estate developers, banks and brokers. These products can be found under its ‘professionals’ category.
Currently, Zipmatch has partnered with 16 developers and two major banks. He added that the firm generates revenue via successful referrals.
While the firm did reach a point of operational profitability in April 2014, Dang noted that he decided to forgo profitability for the express purpose of scaling the team.
“Since our purpose is focussed on driving home ownership, we needed to make the connection between real estate professionals and home shoppers stronger,” he added. “By doing so, we believe it will improve the customer home shopping experience and keep buyers from giving up.”
The team will continue to launch new projects, which Dang declined to talk about in detail.