Property inspection start-up Happy Inspector has raised a seed funding round from investors including Dave McClure’s 500 Startups, after lamenting the struggles it faced in securing cash in Australia.
Happy Inspector, based in Adelaide, is a time-saving iPad app for property inspections. It was founded by Jindou Lee, Philip Mayes and Andrew Mackenzie-Ross.
In January, Happy Inspector was chosen as one of eight start-ups to participate in the 2012 program of mentor-driven seed funding Startmate.
As part of the program, start-ups are exposed to investors in Sydney, Melbourne, Silicon Valley and New York.
While in the US, Happy Inspector participated in Dave McClure’s 500 Startups program, which helped it raise a small seed round from a group of angel investors in addition to 500 Startups.
Lee told StartupSmart the funding amount is less than $1 million. He says the funds were raised in the US after the start-up struggled to attract local funding.
“We started off raising funds in Australia, and Melbourne was quite abysmal. In Sydney, we were taking to Sydney Angels but our valuation didn’t quite stack up to what they like,” he says.
“Then we had an offer from 500 Startups to join their incubator… We finished about three or four weeks ago and then we raised a round and closed it about two weeks ago.”
Lee described the company’s experience in the 500 Startups program as “amazing”.
“We had the option of, do we want to just get investment and be done with that, or go through the accelerator and get investment on top of that? We went through the accelerator,” he says.
Afterwards, Lee says Happy Inspector tried to “tune in” to Silicon Valley networks.
“We met a lot of the angels and entrepreneurs in the Valley. I think the 500 Startups name really helped a lot… We formed some nice relationships.”
Happy Inspector recently hired five new staff, taking its total headcount to eight. The entire team will initially be based in the US, but will later be split 50-50 between the US and Australia.
According to Lee, this is a major priority for the company.
“For us, it’s about bringing over [to the US] guys who are smart and don’t have the experience in Silicon Valley. We’ll bring them over and work really hard,” he says.
“At some stage, well make tons of money and then they will go back and give back to the Australian community.”
Lee says while it’s possible to grow a business from Australia, it’s a lot harder.
“It will take twice or three times as long to do that. Also the market size – the US has got 10 times the population,” he says.