Buying a house is exciting, but everything that happens before you actually live there is not so much fun. Real estate agents charging fees for services you don’t need and all the other time and money wasters that are around. The solution: Open Listings. Your software-based real estate agent will do everything you need and more, making the house buying experience a little more enjoyable. With an average savings of $22,000+ the product speaks for itself.
CEO Judd Schoenholtz tells LATechWatch about their recent funding as well as how to find you all the relevant listings you’ll need.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $1M in a seed funding from Y Combinator, Soma Capital, ChinaRock Capital, I/O Ventures, Joe Montana & Liquid2 Ventures, Kevin Hale, Josh Guttman, Kevin Moore, along with other angels.
Tell us about your product or service.
Open Listings helps you buy a home without a real estate agent. Homebuyers instead use our software platform, which is backed by a support team of licensed agents. We guide them through the entire offer and transaction process and then give them back half our commission at close.
We also help users house hunt by sending them every new listing that matches their criteria and by providing exclusive data and on-demand support. Users can get started on our website or with the Open Listings iPhone app.
What inspired you to start the company?
The motivation came from my and my co-founders’ own homebuying experiences. We didn’t need most of the services or to pay any of the fees that came with using a traditional agent, yet however there’s no real alternative. We knew it was a huge opportunity that no one was really working on, so we came together and formed the company to solve this specific problem and also to create a brand in the real estate space that people like us would be passionate about.
How is it different?
Software has already made shopping for a home easier and accessible for everyone. But it hasn’t done much to improve the actual offer and transaction process. Open Listings has innovative shopping tools, but we’re focused more on improving the actual buying experience.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We’re targeting the largest asset class in the world worth trillions of dollars.
What’s your business model?
Like a traditional real estate agent, we earn a commission from each home we buy or sell, typically 2.5-3% of the purchase price. Unlike a traditional agent, we give back half of that amount to our customers.
What was the funding process like?
For us it was relatively straightforward. We got some initial funding from Y Combinator when we entered the Winter 2015 batch. At the end of the program, we presented at demo day, met with a bunch of interested investors and raised the $1M in about three weeks. Then we stopped fundraising and went back to work.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Coming out of Y Combinator there weren’t any real challenges to fundraising. But the money didn’t do anything to make our business more successful. We still need to
build our product and scale our operations and acquire customers. The funds just give us some additional time to figure it all out.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We going after a huge opportunity and we have an awesome service. It’s also a service that most people want to exist and to use themselves. Many of our investors had gone through the home buying process before or were currently in the middle of it, so that probably helped.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to have coverage throughout most of California in the coming months. We’re also experimenting with on-demand home tours in Los Angeles and hope to launch that everywhere soon.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Build a sustainable business that doesn’t require an injection of capital. We generate revenue from each home we sell so the business was bootstrap-able in the case where we couldn’t raise funding.
What’s your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
We’re on more of a coffee vibe — shout out to Proof in Atwater Village that supplies most of our caffeine.