SPEEDHOME (formerly Speedrent), a Malaysian property rental platform, has raised RM7 million Series A funding backed by Allianz Malaysia Berhad (Allianz) and Gobi Partners (Gobi).
The startup is also one of Gobi’s first investments for its SuperSeed Fund II and one of the winners of Gobi’s SuperSeed II Championship last year.
With this recent investment, SPEEDHOME plans to advance the platform’s tech and app, along with a regional expansion starting with Bangkok.
A home that sells itself
Gobi Partners (Gobi) is a venture capital firm with a Pan-Asian presence across North Asia, South Asia, and ASEAN with over US$1.1 billion in assets under management. Headquartered in KL and Shanghai, the firm supports entrepreneurs from the early to growth stages and focuses on emerging and underserved markets.
This funding comes after SPEEDHOME’s efforts in softening the adverse impact of the pandemic on the property industry. A significant drop in volume and transaction of RM1.3 billion in unsold units were recorded in the local buy and sell market amidst the pandemic. That’s according to SPEEDHOME’s team, citing data from the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC).
“Sadly, the rental market also was not spared from this. With many landlords unable to show their units during MCO, tenants unable to travel, and people more conscious of their spending, we also saw a drop in demand for rental during that period,” Wong Whei Meng, SPEEDHOME’s CEO told Vulcan Post.
Thus, SPEEDHOME launched its Virtual Viewing and Homerunners services that addressed the gaps posed by movement restrictions. Landlords can essentially leave the hassle of finding tenants up to SPEEDHOME’s Homerunners, who basically function as property agents to help lease out a vacant property.
Such a service resulted in a 160% year-on-year growth in Gross Written Premium (GWP) contribution to Allianz in 2020 compared to 2019. This showed SPEEDHOME’s ability to grow as a player in the property industry despite the pandemic’s challenges.
Dictionary time: Gross Written Premiums are the total revenue from a contract expected to be received by an insurer before deductions for reinsurance or ceding commissions.Collins Dictionary
Ridding renters of deposits
Since we last spoke to Whei Meng in 2019 when the company was still known as Speedrent, a Zero Deposit plan has been introduced to SPEEDHOME’s services. With it, tenants are able to rent homes without paying hefty upfront deposit fees, increasing renters’ cash flow.
“Zero Deposit will help tenants to ease their financial burden while enabling landlords to rent fast by tapping into this pool of tenants that are qualified to rent but do not want to pay an expensive deposit,” Whei Meng said. In total, RM37 million in deposits was saved by tenants over the years through the plan, reported SPEEDHOME.
Landlords, on the other hand, are promised Zero Loss protection for their properties of up to RM42k in coverage that includes eviction support, damages, and theft, amongst others. SPEEDHOME also claims that their units get rented out 5 times quicker when deposits are lightened for tenants.
In exchange, landlords are charged insurance fees that are priced based on the unit’s 1-month rental charges plus 6% SST, along with RM10 for stamp duty for a Basic plan.
To date, SPEEDHOME has over 575,000 app downloads and over 128,000 listings. The team is expecting this number to grow as consumers become more conscious of their spending habits.
To Bangkok they go
With the startup’s achievements in Malaysia thus far, it’s setting sights on expanding its services to Bangkok.
“Bangkok shares a similar rental culture to Malaysia, thus we believe our Zero Deposit model would work well there too,” Whei Meng explained. Additionally, Bangkok has a high-density population and job opportunities, qualities the rental market revolves heavily around.
While SPEEDHOME’s team couldn’t share more details of new updates users can look forward to on their platform, they hinted that AI and machine learning technologies will be involved.
Whei Meng concluded our interview with one piece of advice for startups looking to secure funding during the pandemic: focus on fundamentals and money will follow.
“In any plans or pitches, we made sure to prioritise our users and address their problems, by doing so, we want to provide a solution that our users will continue to use and trust in the long run,” he shared.
Featured Image Credit: Wong Whei Meng, CEO of SPEEDHOME