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Tuesday, 30 June 2015 17:05

OpenAgent funded to the tune of $6 million


Real estate agent comparison site OpenAgent has secured a $6 million investment from Hollard Investments.

$6 million sounds a lot, but these days it would only buy you a handful of houses in many suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.

And despite fears that a perceived property bubble will burst, there's still plenty of residential real estate action.

So it is perhaps not surprising that real estate agent comparison site OpenAgent is the beneficiary of a $6 million investment by South Africa based Hollard Investments.

The idea behind OpenAgent is to provide people planning to sell their homes with a comparison site similar to those operating in the insurance and other markets.

OpenAgent claims to "analyse every agent in Australia and over two million transactions to match you with the most qualified agent."

Hollard Australia managing director Richard Enthoven said "There is an undeniable need for greater transparency and quality assurance in the Australian real estate industry, and this investment in OpenAgent will allow them to provide this service to more consumers."

OpenAgent co-founder and co-CEO Zoe Pointon said "Richard is a big supporter of our direction, and has been a mentor to both me and my co-founder Marta Higuera for the past year and a half.

"His own entrepreneurial spirit and experience growing companies that help Australians make important financial decisions will be invaluable to OpenAgent."

She added "The funding will allow us to continue to grow the business and connect more Australians with the best real estate agents to help them through the selling process."

OpenAgent raised a total of $2 million from angel investors in 2013 and 2014.

Some potential users might be put off by OpenAgent's privacy policy, which requires "consent to OpenAgent posting and using any photographs and/or personal information you might upload both on its website, its social media sites (including Facebook) and in any other content or copy we may use for the purpose of our functions and/or activities."

That would seem to allow the company to blast out social media messages such as "John Smith of Dee Why, phone number 02 9999 9999 is looking for an estate agent." While that might work against its business model, you have to question why the company is asking for such consent.

The company uses geolocation and requires users to register their names, email addresses and phone numbers before it presents any information about the suburb in question.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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