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‘Like the Elon Musk of the Australian tech sector’: Rent CEO on Bevan Slattery

Brisbane-based tech billionaire Bevan Slattery further enhanced his well-earned reputation as a trader with the Midas touch this week when his investment in Rent.com.au helped the stock more than triple its value on the ASX. 

Mr Slattery backed the majority of the company’s $2.75 million raise with a $2 million investment at $0.05 per share through Capital Trust, his family’s early-stage investment vehicle.  

Rent.com.au’s stock was valued at 22 cents a share during lunchtime trading.

In a statement regarding his investment in the tech platform, Mr Slattery, who founded network connectivity business Megaport, data centre operator NextDC and NBN provider Superloop, said he loved “disruptive platforms that have the ability to scale, and Rent.com.au has great potential to achieve that goal”. 

“I look forward to supporting the board and management team and am excited to be backing another innovative Australian technology platform,” he added. 

Mr Slattery’s investment coincided with the business’s plans to launch RentPay – a portal that aims to simplify processes for agents while also giving renters more control and flexibility over payments. 

“I am excited that Bevan shares our vision for the platform and this additional investment will allow us to maximise the potential of our upcoming RentPay launch and provide additional working capital for marketing and product development,” Rent.com.au CEO Greg Bader said. 

In an interview with Elite Agent, Mr Bader said the company had completed a cap rate some time ago and wasn’t actively in the market looking for capital when it was approached by Mr Slattery. 

“This was a bit of an approach out of the blue, it all happened very quickly,” Mr Bader said. 

Mr Bader, who also has a background in the tech space, said he had known Mr Slattery for almost 20 years. 

“Bevan’s got an interesting history in Australia,” Mr Bader said.

“He hates me saying this but I’m going to say it anyway, he’s a bit like the Elon Musk of the Australian tech industry. 

“What’s interesting about him and what I really admire about the guy is that he sees things how they can be, not as they are.

“He doesn’t accept something has to be the way it is and that there can be no disruption or no change. 

“He’s started a number of businesses over the last 20 years and most of them have been very successful, he’s done very well financially for himself and for his companies and he’s at that point now where he’s just looking around for a few opportunities. 

“We’re not the first one he’s invested in over the last 12 months but he likes businesses that are very tech-focused, he likes businesses that scale.

“He does his due diligence, obviously, and he likes businesses that he believes are undervalued and probably a little under-appreciated and I certainly think Rent fits that bill.” 

Mr Bader said Rent.com.au had “turned over a lot of shares over the past couple of days” and although he admitted the cash injection would help the company accelerate its planned launch of RentPay, he said the exposure Mr Slattery has brought the business would be even more beneficial. 

“The big one for me is increasing the visibility and profile of our business. One of the challenges we’ve had – and to be honest, a criticism we’ve had – is that we’re not out there marketing our business heavily to mums and dads, investors, agents etc.  

“There are a couple of reasons for that and one is that we’ve never really had the funds to do that, we’re not an REA, we’re not a Domain that churns cash.  

“The other thing is, the mums and dads and the real estate agents – we’re not earning money off them, we’re earning money off our renters so they’re the ones we’ve been focusing on marketing to. 

“Sixty-five per cent of the renters are under the age of 40 and marketing to those people is very different to traditional marketing. You won’t see us on TV or sponsoring stadiums, so it’s just a different approach but certainly, Bevan has helped us raise our profile, which is great. “

Mr Bader gave Elite Agent some insights into how the planned RentPay payment portal would operate. 

“Agents, just by nature, they like things to be consistent and simple – it just helps them manage their business but we have a bunch of tenants that would like flexibility so we’ll create them a wallet and it’s fully set up in a trust account structure with ANZ Bank. 

“They’ll be able to top up their wallet however they like, whether they want to do it weekly and synchronise it to their payday or if they want to do it fortnightly, there’s flexibility on that, and then we’ll obviously pay the agent the right amount on the right day but bring flexibility back to the tenant to be able to pick and choose how they top that up.  

“That’s just a start and we think there are opportunities here to just make life a little bit less complex for the renter.” 

Mr Bader said he was frustrated that there was still a commonly held perception that renting was a secondary choice. 

He said the fastest-growing segment of renters were 20 to 35-year-olds in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, who had often relocated for employment opportunities. 

“We’ve coined them the logical renters,” he said. “They’re not going to dive in with a half-million-dollar or $800,000 bloody mortgage. This is a group of people that is highly practical and logical. 

“This is the group we’re trying to give legitimacy to, to raise the profile of that as a normal part of life. So, if we can change the stigma around renting if we can make renting a little bit easier, they’re great things and that’s what we’re trying to do.” 

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Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson was the news editor for Elite Agent. He worked with the company from February 2020 to June 2020. For current stories, news alerts or pitches, please email [email protected]