Like many start-ups, the idea was born from personal experience. NOKK co-founder Ben Voltz, a digital entrepreneur who also counts transaction platform ROKT as one of his successes, was struggling to find a home in his desired suburb of Albert Park in Melbourne.
“There were only about 15 properties on the market, which is a very small amount out of 5,000 homes. So I decided to do a letterbox drop, knock on people’s doors and begin to get a feel for property that may be for sale at the right price,” says Ben.
“Around 18 of the properties I knocked on had owners who were interested in having a conversation with me. So effectively on my own, through letterbox drops or knocking as such, I was able to communicate with more homeowners than all of the property listing platforms were offering me combined.”
Ben’s success created the idea for NOKK. A low-level commitment platform for homeowners who may be interested in seeing what their home could sell for, and a chance for buyers to access something outside the traditional platforms.
With no initial cost, the platform allows homeowners to upload pictures and information about their home with a general location. The address is kept hidden initially for privacy reasons. When a buyer is looking in the area and spots a home they like the look of, they are given the option to send an enquiry, or ‘knock’.
“NOKK is free to join. As an owner, you can set up your profile and then simply post your property for a potential buyer to see. Owners then have access to NOKK services and can Boost their properties exposure and make their property discoverable on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and other digital marketing channels.
“Consumers are then able to have conversations regarding the property, the owner always has the control,” says Ben.
It’s a cross between LinkedIn and Tinder. The property is there online and can be seen, although some information is hidden, searchable by location and requirements. From there, it’s about matching. The buyer ‘knocks’ and the owner can check their credentials and decide if they’ll answer.
Leading up to the launch, Ben and co-founder William Evans had to gather stock. They prospected, ran competitions, encouraged owners to sign up, but were surprised by how much traction they got over a short amount of time. Less than six months since the initial launch of NOKK there are over 11,000 registered users, a mix of buyers and sellers, and conversations are already happening.
“These owners were not coming to market because they had to make a hard, costly commitment to sell. NOKK has been designed to take away the stress and heavy commitment associated with buying and selling a property, we are giving the consumer the control,” says Ben.
Ben and William are very secure in their place in the real estate ecosystem. They’re not a sales platform, they aren’t out to rival realestate.com.au or Domain, and they aren’t agents. Currently they’re just keen to provide buyers and sellers with a good experience and a chance to explore the world of property without the commitment of a costly sales campaign.
Agents come knocking
Describing the platform as a ‘pre-sales’ environment, Ben says he was also surprised by the interest they’ve generated amongst agents. Starting off in their local area, a growing number of agents have been contacting NOKK to discover how they can get in on the action.
“We haven’t been that focused on agents to date, because we’re only in stage one of the evolution, but in the process of building the mass we need we’ve come into contact with agents. Especially in our local area, we already knew them, or they knew of us.
“We’ve had feedback from users and owners on the agents operating in the area, who are operating with integrity, and we’ve begun to build a relationship with those agents. It’s like a funnel, so when the portion of owners who are on our platform come to us and say ‘I’ve had a few knocks, I want to bring it to a head now, can I have an agent to bring it all together so I can sell’ we’re able to refer them to an approved agent.”
Ben says the platform has seen a couple of sales from owners who have used NOKK to warm-up to the idea of a sale, before connecting with an agent through the platform and going on to a traditional sales campaign.
In the platform’s core regions of Melbourne and Sydney, the idea of a platform which allows an owner to become comfortable with the price expectations of the market and see the kind of response their property gets online may be an excellent pre-game warmup for agents who are struggling with seller expectations.
Ben says the properties on the platform are regularly reviewed by the NOKK team to ensure the prices are within reason, both from a buyer and seller point of view, and sellers are able to change their profile when they like. This allows them to trial different price points, and see how much traction they get at each.
On the horizon
Being such a young company, NOKK is constantly evolving and growing, and there isn’t a set plan for what the next move for Ben and William will be. Some thoughts that have been thrown around are an accreditation for agents to use, showing that they’ve been vetted by the NOKK team and allowing homeowners from the site to feel comfortable with the agent they select, or even NOKK employed agents down the line. But for now, Ben is happy with letting the platform grow and evolve organically.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I’m still in 2018 mode, I was enjoying a bit of sun and a glass of wine. But now it’s time to gear up. We’ve got 11,000 users on the platform currently, it would be good to hit the 100,000 mark but that’s obviously a challenge, so we’ll see what we can get to.”