A 30-year-old startup: Console Group raises $7.5 million for cloud-based proptech

Console Group chief executive Charlie Holland. Source: supplied.

Console Group has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding, 29 years after it first brought its property tech to market.

Since it was founded back in 1992, Brisbane-based Console has been offering accounting software to property managers. But until three years ago, all of that was based on in-house servers.

“The world has moved,” chief executive Charlie Holland tells SmartCompany.

With everything moving to the cloud, he saw an opportunity to up the standards of what the business could offer its clients — and a way to attract new ones too.

Console Cloud provides automated management of funds, trust accounting and other aspects of property management.

It’s this arm of the business the funding is intended to boost.

“We run a two-speed business,” Holland explains.

The cloud-based product “has capital requirements to accelerate the deployment, or accelerate the build of the product”.

Building it out using revenues from the original product would simply take longer, he says.

The $7.5 million investment comes from Pipeline Capital, Macquarie Bank and Macquarie Capital, and will fuel an acceleration of product development and further growth.

Console Cloud has been growing at a rate of about 250% year-on-year, Holland says. For 11 quarters in a row, he adds, he and the team have told both investors and customers what they’re planning on building.

And for 11 quarters in a row, they have delivered exactly what they promised.

Even over the past 12 months — during the COVID-19 pandemic — things have been “pretty steady” for Cloud Console, Holland says.

Legacy customers and new customers alike saw the need to shift to a cloud-based infrastructure.

“One of the benefits of being on cloud, you can operate from anywhere.”

Holland is now aiming to onboard 1,000 more customers onto the platform in the next 12 months.

“We’ve proven the ability to develop software on a very consistent basis,” he adds.

“Bringing on more capital enables us to continue doing that.”

A 30-year-old startup?

It’s not often we’re talking about Series B raises when the business is almost three decades old.

But Holland says its a “privilege” to head up a tech business that’s been around for so long.

“There’s not a hell of a lot of them.”

Just days ago, he was visiting the office of a business that has now been using Console’s tech for some 25 years.

“I’m proud of that.”

For this chief executive, the company is not in the business of a hard sell, or simply replacing the tech of its legacy customers.

They haven’t rushed into cloud technology, he explains. In fact, Console was one of the later businesses in this sector in to embrace it.

“We’ve really looked at what we needed to build rather than just replace old technology,” he says.

“We’ve had to build something that really changes the way … our customers operate for the next 10 years.”

At the same time, he says moving to a more startup-esque way of working has changed the culture of the business, in a positive way.

Suddenly the team is process-driven and focused on delivering. There’s more room for development and people feel more invested in the journey.

But that’s also related to the long-term customers on Console’s books, Holland says.

It’s one thing to please new customers. When you have long-standing clients too, there’s arguably more at stake.

“You have to take people on that journey,” Holland explains.

Ultimately, that leads to a “very professional organisation.”

The growth that Console’s cloud business has seen is simply a byproduct of that journey.

“We’re at a point where we’re very confident of our efficiencies gained, and of what we can deliver,” he adds.

“The ability to raise capital is also a by-product of that.”

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