Sydney-based property management startup MadeComfy has raised $6 million in its latest funding round, with the majority coming from Investec Australia, and co-founders Quirin Schwaighofer and Sabrina Bethunin have their eyes on international expansion.
Established in 2015, MadeComfy manages properties on short-term leases, organising guest bookings and providing maintenance for properties listed on sites like Airbnb.
And, according to its founders, business is booming. MadeComfy has grown at a rate of 500% year-over-year, and now manages about 600 properties and puts up 4000 guests per month.
Although Schwaighofer and Bethunin were unable to reveal exact figures, they confirmed Investec had provided more than $5 million in the funding round, and the rest of the funding came for existing investors. MadeComfy raised $1.1 million in funding back in July 2017.
They also told StartupSmart they had not actually been looking for investment. Rather, Investec came to them.
Schwaighofer says they were “mainly looking for the right partner”. He adds: “We were very selective in our first round as well.”
Schwaighofer says the team had been in touch with Investec at the very early stages of their journey, and felt “very aligned from the beginning”.
“We know them as a company, and how they have supported their previous investments,” he says.
The funds are earmarked for expansion. According to Bethunin, MadeComfy has proven its business model over the last two-and-a-half years, commencing operations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
“We’re going to invest a lot in strengthening our infrastructure, developing a new model to go regional — and international,” she says.
The growth of the startup is indicative of the property market in Australia at the moment, Schwaighofer says.
In Sydney, for example, it has become “more and more difficult to afford property”.
“The majority of [MadeComfy] customers are paying a mortgage,” he says.
In Australia, people want to own property, Schwaighofer says, and short term lets provide a “great way of enabling Australians to own properties and hold them — not selling”.
This is part of a trend that is arguably global. Analysis from Crunchbase News, published last week, listed 10 US real estate startups that have raised between $US3 million ($3.96 million) and $US60 million ($79.25 million) over the past year or so.
Nine out of the 10 are based in either New York or San Francisco — areas with real estate markets prohibitive to young people or first-time buyers.
This research is focused on the US, but there are also several Australian startups raising significant capital in the real estate space.
Digital home loan platform Athena raised $15 million in its Series A funding earlier this month; ActivePipe has partnered with the US National Association of Realtors as it expands globally; and live-stream-auction startup Gavl raised $6 million in its Series A round in October last year, including $1.8 million from Flight Centre co-founder Geoff Harris.
According to the MadeComfy co-founders, business success comes from a focus on the customer, and on revenue. As Schwaighofer says, “the best investors is always the customer.”
He advises other startups to “focus on revenue” and “focus on growth”, rather than worrying about debt. He adds that entrepreneurs should also be prepared, and expect the unexpected.
He says: “Never, ever give up. Every day, every week, every month, something is happening that you don’t expect.”