From isolation to innovation: How REACH Australia’s support transforms PropTech startups into global success stories

Building a PropTech platform can be a lonely experience, according to John Hellaby.

The Market Buy chief executive officer should know, he’s helped build more than one and for the past eight months he’s been able to compare flying solo to being a part of the REACH Australia & New Zealand 2023 cohort.

As part of the cohort, Market Buy has experienced the full accelerator program designed to help PropTechs scale their growth and make a lasting impact on real estate communities worldwide.

Mr Hellaby said one of the best aspects of the program is the level of support received from REACH ANZ Managing Partner Peter Schravemade, Director Ebonnie Schravemade and Entrepreneur in Residence Tom Ellis.

“To have that support from the REACH team, their wisdom and support backing us, has been massive,” he said.

David Stewart developed the Market Buy concept in 2014, with the online offer management system officially making its first sale in 2016 with 14 active participants and 47 offers made.

Mr Hellaby said there’s been a lot of ups and downs over the years and with 11 interest rate rises in this hiking cycle, and a quieter property market, the challenges have been real. 

He said that the REACH Australia program obviously comes with extensive business support, including on how to best pitch and apply for capital, but the support goes far beyond that.

“With Peter, Ebonnie and Tom, the greatest benefit we have had is that human support,” Mr Hellaby said.

“When there has been challenges, we have been able to call them… or I put a voice message on our WhatsApp group and within 30 minutes there’s a response.

“We have a monthly meeting, but day-in, day-out I’m communicating with one or all of the team to navigate through challenges or to spitball ideas.”

Mr Hellaby said having this extensive support had not only helped Market Buy from a business sense, but him from a mental health point of view.

He said throughout the program he felt the REACH team “had my back”.

“That level of support as a founder, as a CEO, is monumental,” Mr Hellaby explained.

“It can feel really lonely building a PropTeach. It’s a hard, lonely thing.

“If you’re a CEO or a founder, there’s a level of isolation from your team and the buck stops with you, which can make it a high stress experience. 

“So to have these people who have seen the battles and experienced these battles before, and who can be that third party sounding board, to help you keep a clear head, is incredible.”

REACH ANZ is a growth accelerator created by Second Century Ventures, an early-stage technology fund, backed by the National Association of REALTORS.

And Mr Hellaby said having NAR backing had made a huge difference in Market Buy’s development and success, including recently signing a huge international deal.

“The amount of support in stakeholder management has been phenomenal and the support has helped us streamline our focus,” Mr Hellaby said.

“We’ve now signed on a global real estate brand and we’re building a white label platform for them for online offers.

“A huge factor in that, that gave them the confidence to back us is that we are part of the NAR REACH cohort.

“NAR’s values include keeping the agent central to the transaction and our values align with NAR’s.

“It means the global brand has confidence in us to build the platform for them because we will not ever try to replace their agents.”

Mr Hellaby said the REACH team had a bird’s eye view of the PropTech and real estate space in Australia and internationally, giving them the ability to identify business opportunities for members of the 2023 cohort.

He said there were plenty of networking opportunities at functions and events, with the global brand opportunity coming out of Market Buy being on the REACH ANZ booth in the exhibition hall at AREC earlier this year.

The REACH ANZ program also fosters networking and mentoring opportunities with the current cohort and PropTechs that have previously been a part of the program, both here and overseas.

Applications for the fifth cohort in 2024 are now open. The REACH program has been behind some of the country’s most successful PropTech startups including ActivePipe, BoxBrownie, Realtime Conveyancer, Future Rent and Propic.

It offers a combination of funding, mentorship, access to the most impactful conferences, trade shows and networking events, exposure to media and academic organisations and a network of like-minded entrepreneurs across more than 220 REACH portfolio companies.

Tal Meser, the chief executive officer at Tapi, a property maintenance software provider, said the REACH program not only provided immediate support but a network that remained connected long-term.

“Between Peter, Ebonnie and Tom, they have given us so much in this program,” he said.

“From working on strategies to sense checking what we’re doing along the way and sharing their experience and perspective on things we might not have looked at or thought of, it’s been incredible.

“Beyond that, the wider mentor network that they connect you with is invaluable. They’ve also connected us with a number of potential deals and then on top of that, there’s a family feel between the cohorts as well. 

“What I really love about Peter, Ebonnie and Tom’s vision is how they’ve built an ecosystem of PropTechs to work together through the years.

“It goes beyond the program, it’s about how we support each other into the future.”

Tapi CEO Tal Meser.

Specifically, Mr Meser said he’d appreciated Mr Shravemade’s guidance on how to market Tapi and present it to the market, while Ms Shravemade had worked with the operations team to streamline processes and add business efficiencies.

Mr Ellis had proved invaluable in helping Tapi navigate the capital raising landscape.

“They all have really complimentary skills,” he said. 

“For us, and our team, they really helped to add value at the right points and the right times.

“It feels like we’ve built something we know will progress from here.”

The 2024 program is scheduled to run from February 2024 through to October 2024 and includes a combination of virtual and in-person events. 

Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2023. For more information about REACH Australia & New Zealand, or to submit an application, click here.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.

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