Irish property tech startup Offr has raised a £2.7 million ($3.6 million) seed funding round from Barclays.
The 10-month-old company is a digital solution for buying, letting, and renting properties across borders and saw a boom in interest during the coronavirus pandemic, even as actual property transactions diminished.
“It was an out of body experience,” Robert Hoban, CEO and cofounder of Offr, told Business Insider in an interview. “The pandemic slowed transactions to a trickle but drove business development for us, we saw so much change in 10 weeks. There was so much less fear and resistance around technology previously but now seen a lot of change in a very conservative industry.”
Existing investors Delta Partners on behalf of Bank of Ireland, AIB, Enterprise Ireland, The European Investment Fund and Frontline Ventures also participated in the round which takes Offr’s total funding to $4.8 million.
Earlier this year, Offr participated in the Barclays London Accelerator, powered by Techstars, and was selected as one of the few candidates for follow-on investment from this year’s cohort of companies.
Much of the fundraise itself was done remotely from Hoban’s kitchen table in Dublin and he said that he is still yet to meet some 50% of the company’s investors in person.
“We weren’t doing a load of pitching to VC funds because the new VC funds to us weren’t looking to make new investments during the pandemic,” Hoban added.
“We had a strong existing investor base and then interest from private and strategic investors in the product but we still got a proper grilling, these are no slouches.”
Offr’s platform allows buyers to securely submit offers and real estate agents to track the progress of sales or leases via a phone or laptop. Similarly, users are updated on changes to legal documents through alerts while buyers can upload proof of funds, ID, or other documentation through the platform.
“Our biggest challenge is property people who often have no tech training and are skeptical about new tech offerings because they fear that it could replace them,” Hoban said.
The company already has operations across commercial and residential property markets in the UK, Ireland, and Australia and has plans to expand into South Africa, Italy, and eventually the US going forward.
Check out Offr’s pitch deck below: