NBA star Andrew Bogut has expanded his already substantial portfolio of startup investments, backing Melbourne off-market property startup Listing Loop.
No stranger to hearing pitches, Bogut tells StartupSmart he needs to understand both an industry and how a business model will address existing issues before signing the dotted line.
“I’ve been through good pitches, I’ve been through bad pitches,” he says.
“I loved the idea, loved the route they were trying to take with real estate in Australia especially, so I got involved.”
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Bogut lead the list of investors in Listing Loop, which closed its raise at $3.3 million in October in hopes of disrupting the $26 billion property industry. The Young Rich Lister has also signed up as an ambassador.
How to get the ball rolling
For Bogut, the first and biggest focus during a pitch is the people behind the products.
“When you invest in startups, not only are you investing in the idea and the company, but you’re also investing in the people,” he says.
“You want to have as much confidence in the founders as you do the idea.”
In building this trust, Bogut notes how underrated it is for founders to communicate their ideas clearly.
Having a good understanding of the industry and the business approach is key to earning the trust of an investor, he says, and this can be seen across the startup investments he has under his belt, which include local sporting platform Sportility, Cloud9 e-sports team and online pharmacy PillPack.
But this level of prior knowledge should not be considered the norm, says Bogut, so he encourages founders to avoid technical lingo until everyone is on the same page.
“There’ll be times when you pitch to people who don’t understand what you’re talking about completely,” Bogut says.
“You want to dumb it down as much as possible at the start and then build it up, just so you can make sure the people you’re pitching to completely understand it.”
Bogut also says being respectful of investors’ time and avoiding “three or four hour” pitches will help make the right impression.
Instead, he advises startups to aim for 45-minute pitches, with longer ones lasting 90-minutes at most. Having confidence and being prepared is key, he says.
“Be concise, direct and competent,” he says.
Sinking the deal
Presentation is nothing without substance, and proving the product’s viability is key, says Bogut.
With Listing Loop, Bogut says his interest was piqued because the startup addresses specific issues he noticed himself as a user of existing platforms already in the property market.
Strong numbers also played a part in strengthening his interest — according to Listing Loop co-founder and chief executive Rhett Dallwitz, 20% of property transactions are off-market and that figure continues to grow.
Backing these stats is the startup’s performance. Listing Loop launched in May and now boasts “well over half a billion dollars worth of property uploaded”, Dallwitz tells StartupSmart.
It’s not enough to have a large market —the business plan also needs to prove its viability and potential, Bogut says.
In the case of Listing Loop, it covers both parties in the market by combining two platforms: one to appeal to buyers, who need a search and alert function, and another for agents, who need data to analyse trends.
Bogut also notes the longevity of the product’s value, saying professionals from businesses of all sizes could use the platform long-term as “a good little income earner” through the “a percentage for life” referrals program.
Scalability is also high on Bogut’s checklist when assessing startup investments.
Bogut imagines being able to use the data collected with buyer-intelligence tools to inform street developers in their planning stages of consumer buying trends, for example.
Although Dallwitz says he is keen to build Listing Loop in Australia before considering overseas expansion, he also says there is already interest growing in New Zealand and the United States, something that personally appeals to Bogut, who spends much of his year playing for San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors.