Why ActivePipe is focusing on culture as it expands into the US


ActivePipe co-founder and chief executive Ashley Farrugia. Source: supplied.

Australian real estate startup ActivePipe is continuing its international expansion, partnering with the behemoth that is the US National Association of Realtors (NAR), but founder Ashley Farrugia is committed to keeping the company’s startup culture alive and well.

Farrugia confirmed to StartupSmart that NAR has taken a “minor stake” in the business, and that ActivePipe is taking part in the NAR Second Century Ventures 2018 REach® accelerator program, but was unable to reveal any concrete figures.

He did say ActivePipe’s goal is, and has always been, to become a global, profitable business, driving growth through a strong product.

“We build a product that people love and that our users love to use and we focus heavily on that product.”

This latest news follows ActivePipe’s Series A funding round in February, in which it raised $5.9 million from NAB, and a pre-Series A raise of $1.8 million in August last year. 

According to Farrugia, the former Smart50 finalist is growing at around 10% percent month-on-month in Australia and New Zealand, and the UK pipeline is coming to fruition and growing quickly.

Now, through the NAR REach accelerator, and with the help of fresh investment, ActivePipe is making headway in the US too.

“The US is a massive market,” he says.

“It’s very fragmented, and 15 times bigger than the Australian market.”

ActivePipe has aligned itself with a powerful strategic investor, Farrugia says. “It’s a massive endorsement that they think the market fit is right.”

He maintains that working with NAR poses a huge opportunity “to be able to accelerate our growth in the US market” — a market ActivePipe is not altogether familiar with.

Despite this, Farrugia says no matter where it is in the world, fundamentally, the way the product works doesn’t change.

“People behave in a similar way wherever they are. We’re comfortable that our product fits the market beautifully,” he says. 

However, the marketing strategy is “completely different” in the US, and that’s where assistance from the NAR comes in handy.

The NAR accelerator program offers support in areas like product-market fit, preparing the business to scale, production, pitching and marketing.

“If we can learn from other people’s mistakes on our journey to grow a global business, obviously that’s a massive bonus for us,” Farrugia says. 

“We can leverage off a company that has seen so many startups enter the US market.”

ActivePipe now has a team in the US, and Farrugia says there’s more recruitment to come and a “rapidly developing pipeline”.

But he is committed to retaining the company culture, “reading all sorts of books” on how to keep the startup feeling going throughout the company’s growth.

“We knew that the recipe for our success in the early days was culture. If your employees don’t love their jobs, they’re not going to build a product people love,” says Farrugia.

It may be early days but ActivePipe is trying to stay ahead of the game here, and already has a head of culture in place.

“We’re taking that DNA, the recipe that’s helped us succeed, and trying to keep that in the business,” he says. 

“That’s what built this business, and it’s going to be critical. There’s no argument — it’s all about the people and the culture, and we’ll never be removed from that.”

NOW READ: Melbourne software startup ActivePipe raises $1.8 million in mission to make real estate agents’ lives easier


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