Startup News & Analysis

Melbourne property startup Nokk scores 7,000 users and $1 million — all before launching

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Nokk property startup

Nokk founders Ben Voltz and William Evans. Source: Supplied.

Property startup Nokk has raised $1 million in funding and attracted some 7,000 customers to its platform, all before it launched at the beginning of this week.

The startup was founded by former commodities banker William Evans, along with Ben Voltz, co-founder of marketing tech startup ROKT, which raised almost $35 million in Series B funding last year.

The platform uses an algorithm to match buyers to homeowners, allowing buyers to register interest in a property, and for homeowners to list their homes and gauge interest, with no obligation on either side.

Speaking to StartupSmart, Voltz says the idea was born out of frustration when he was trying to find a house to buy in Melbourne.

“Stock in the market in Melbourne was so limited,” he says.

Voltz spent a day letter-dropping to homes he was interested in buying, even though they weren’t listed for sale. He received 18 responses from people willing to discuss a sale.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who wanted to have a conversation,” he says.

“That was a magic moment.”

In fact, one homeowner who responded (she and Voltz discussed a potential sale, but it didn’t go through), eventually became an investor in Nokk.

“That’s a good testimony to the fact that the process was able to be backed by somebody that ran through the process,” Voltz says.

With any startup, “you’ve got to be involved from the roots”, he adds.

“I understood the intricacies of how that conversation came about, and some of the challenges, and I used that to evolve and build the product,” he says.

Investment has also come from Cadmon Ventures managing director Cameron Low, and other high-net-worth individuals, as well from the co-founders themselves.

The funding will be used to continue building on the technology and the product, as well as growing staff numbers and investing in marketing  a particular strong suit of Voltz’s.

With 20 years of experience in the marketing space, Voltz says he knows how to get a product out to customers 7,000 prospective buyers and sellers were listed on the platform by the time it launched.

“People laugh at you if you start a platform with no stock,” he says.

“We’re starting to get a bit of a following and exponential growth by virtue,” he adds.

“I think we’re going to get a bit of virality.”

The influx of customers was partly down to social media marketing, which “is just so powerful”, but also through Voltz talking to potential users and involving himself in every aspect of the business.

“I have to be involved in every discipline of this business,” he says.

“Having my ear out, and listening to and refining our platform is how we’re going to be successful,” he adds.

“I don’t think there are tricks … but cut too many corners and you’ll end up going round in circles,” he says.

For budding entrepreneurs, Voltz’s top piece of advice is to “get a good bit of market research going before you launch a product”.

It can be easy to get “carried away with an idea in isolation”, he adds, without getting a feel for what other people would want from a product.

Speak to people from different sectors and walks of life, and “build a product off the back of listening”, he advises.

NOW READ: Seven Australian property startups that have raised millions in 2018

NOW READ: How two co-founders of property management startup Pleased.Property went from launch to exit within two years

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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