Loop Software is a fast growing Proptech business that is using software and data to shake up the estate agency sector. It is doing this by giving agents the knowledge and intelligence they need to raise service level standards.
BLM met with its co-founders Claire Owen and Oliver Gleave to find out more.
You could argue that if there is one industry that needs to be disrupted, it is estate agency. Disruption has taken place regarding the proliferation of online companies entering the market but less so when it comes to property data and intelligence.
But a chance meeting between Oliver Gleave (who founded, built and sold property software business Jupix in 2014 *) and Claire Owen (an experienced buying agent with a long career which culminated with a stint at Knight Frank) at an innovation conference called Rock The Cotswolds, could be set to change that.
Claire approached Oliver with an idea for a PropTech business that would be able to collate and present data and intelligence in a way that can help agents better understand what’s happening in the market, allowing them to improve service levels.
And so Loop Software was born, to solve a problem Claire herself had experienced.
Claire explains: “Whilst I was working as a buying agent, I thought there must be data platform that can aggregate all of the different sets of information you have about properties in one place but there wasn’t.
“Which is why I grabbed the opportunity to connect with Oliver and from there we agreed that there was a gap in the market for this solution. We then spent a year working on whiteboards and mapping out how the platform would work and how we would aggregate all the data.
“Through the platform, users can click on a property and access all the information about it, allowing them to talk in facts and not opinions. They can see how many times it has been on the market and with which agent and at what price; as well as environmental and land registry information. You can also add in your own notes and intelligence.
“Users can also access our prospecting tool that allows them to find motivated sellers that are already on the market.”
Loop Software currently has around sixty clients using the software, but Oliver and Claire are clear that they aren’t interested in targeting every estate agency in the country – instead they are looking for growth orientated businesses at the middle to top end, who will benefit from integrating the software into their operations.
Interestingly, Oliver also says that the software they have built could also be used for other industries in the future.
He explains: “We could throw automotive data at the software, so the user can click on a car and see it’s full history. But this is a long way off and both of our backgrounds are in property, so we want to lock in this sector first.”
What have been your main challenges?
When it comes to starting up and scaling a business, Oliver has been there and done it and starting the process again has been a fresh reminder on how difficult it can be.
He explains: “setting up Loop with Claire has already been an amazing journey, but I had forgotten how hard it is to get a business off the ground. Loop is solving a complex problem and we’ve had to build an exceptional management team to help us deliver this.
“We’ve also had to fight our way in to an established market and get all of the fundamentals correct, such as how do you price the product and when do you bring it to market?”
For Claire, it’s her first crack at launching a business: “I’ve left a nice steady job to not bringing home a salary. But when you feel so passionately about something, there isn’t another option. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.”
On where the business is on its current journey, Oliver refers to the four evolutions of a team – forming, storming, norming and performing.
He says: “I feel we’re now in the normalising stage of the business cycle and have a much better understanding of who we are what we are doing. My advice for small businesses starting out is definitely about identity and ensuring your value proposition is locked in straight away.”
How big can the business grow?
On how big the business can grow, Oliver and Claire say that international expansion is an option, alongside looking at other sectors.
Oliver says: “the immediate plan is to lock in the UK as a market and the prove the model before we start to think about other countries. One issue is that property data in Europe is way behind what we have in the UK. In France and Italy for example, many areas don’t even release their data and there is walled garden around it.”
On the question of funding their growth ambitions, Loop currently have enough investment to give the business a runway to go and deliver what they need to but Oliver and Claire say that Series A investment may be an option in the future, depending on how quickly they want to grow.
One thing is for certain – the estate agency sector is set to finally have the disruption it has long been needing.