INDUSTRY NEWSNEWS

Australian start-up pioneering AI technology in property management secures $1 million funding

Rental Heroes, a Melbourne-based PropTech start-up founded in January 2019, has raised $1 million in a seed round to fuel the growth of their cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The technology provides a solution for residential property managers in automating tenant requests.

The round was led by Australian seed investment group Investible. The raise saw new funding from existing investor, global investment management firm, Artesian, as well participation from new investors, including the US-based Hustle Fund and Morten Birk Belling, who is Managing Director of Menulog ANZ.

Rental Heroes is pioneering the use of conversational AI to automate the triage and resolution of the most time consuming task for residential property managers; tenancy questions and issues.

Since first launching in January 2020 with LJ Hooker, Rental Heroes have grown their user base to over 40,000 and their customers include Century 21, First National, Professionals, Raine & Horne, and Jellis Craig.

Co-Founder and Rental Heroes CEO Ben Burton said: “Driven by increased regulation and COVID-19, the residential property management industry has experienced more change in the last 12 months than the last decade, which has seen property managers rapidly adapt to new systems and processes, presenting a huge opportunity for new software technology”.

“This change has also unfortunately seen property managers leave the industry, with almost 9000 open property management roles advertised in 2021. Business owners and department heads simply cannot fill property manager roles and are looking to AI technology to help fill the gap,” Mr Burton continued.

Rental Heroes’ tech is designed to support property managers, instead of ‘disrupt’.

They plan to use the funding to enhance the capability of their AI so that it can support an even wider range of property management tasks.

Having first met founders Ben Burton and Dominik Chmielewski in 2019 during an Investible Games event, Investible Investment Director Daniel Veytsblit said the team demonstrated it has the industry knowledge, passion and drive to stand out in a competitive prop-tech market.

“Ben and Dom have already proven Rental Heroes’ value to the property management ecosystem and have a significant vision to make property management more efficient for all participants: agents, landlords, renters as well as service providers,” Mr Veytsblit said.

“We look forward to working with the team to create meaningful change in an industry that impacts the day-to-day lives of so many.”

Seed round investor and Managing Director of Menulog ANZ, Morten Birk Belling said when he heard the Rental Heroes story, he couldn’t help but see the opportunity Rental Heroes have in market.

“Ben and Dom have built a really promising foundation and with my experience in technology and marketplace businesses, I look forward to giving them a steer as they scale within Australia and beyond.”

Shiyan Koh, General Partner of US-based venture capital fund Hustle Fund said they see the opportunity Rental Heroes has to apply their technology to US use-cases, including the 40 million multifamily unit rental market.

Co-founder and Rental Heroes COO Mr Chmielewski said he and Mr Burton founded the business with a vision to create brilliant rental experiences for both tenants, property managers and landlords.

“Ben and I previously worked in the tech sector gaining skills across mobile device applications, conversational AI and lean software development,” he explained.

“We also experienced first-hand as tenants how tough a job property management is because you are juggling the interests of tenants, landlords and trades. With so much time spent communicating via phone and email, we thought there must be a better way”.

Rental Heroes, unlike other prop-tech solutions, has no app, website, or portal. Tenants simply interact with their digital property assistant (“Alex”) via Messenger.

“By using an existing channel, we remove a key barrier to adoption, which is downloading a new app or remembering your portal password. On the property manager side, the data flows seamlessly between our digital assistant and the property managers’ existing systems,” Mr Chmielewski said.

Mr Burton and Mr Chmielewski graduated from the Stockland BlueChilli Proptech Accelerator Program in July 2019.

Looking forward, Rental Heroes plans to use the funding to build a sales team, launch new end-user communication channels and expand the capability of “Alex” via partner integrations and AI development.

“We will also sustainably move into both US and UK markets via our existing integration partnerships,” Mr Chmielewski said.

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