Countrywide, Connells and Zoopla have together done a deal with a proptech firm – Fixflo.
The new investors in Fixflo were announced this morning, and will immediately more than double Fixflo’s existing customer base of letting agent branches.
Fixflo, which operates a property repair reporting system for tenants both graphically and in a number of different languages, had already teamed up with TPO and the Tenancy Dispute Service in providing acceptable evidence in disputes.
This morning’s news of the three new partnerships was announced as one deal.
It was orchestrated by Countrywide which this morning described itself as the ‘lead partner’ in backing Fixflo. Both Countrywide and Connells invest in Zoopla, meaning that the deal unites two exceptional entrepreneurs – Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman and Fixflo founder Rajeev Nayyar.
LSL, the other major corporate in Zoopla, was not part of the Fixflo deal.
Both Countrywide and Connells will use Fixflo across their portfolios of rental properties – said to be over 100,000 rental homes across the UK.
Fixflo, which already supplied its software to over 1,300 letting agencies with 160,000 private rental homes before the deal, will now become available to many more thousands of homes across the UK, through an estimated 2,000 more letting agent branches.
The Zoopla part of the deal means that its portals will provide distribution and marketing support for Fixflo.
For Countrywide this appears to be a first foray into online investment, although stopping very well short of the investment in an actual online agency that it said was an option last summer in an interview with EYE.
A second Countrywide deal with another proptech company is thought to be in the pipeline.
CEO Alison Platt said of the Fixflo partnership that it is “a clear indication of our commitment to delivering the group’s wider digital strategy”.
She added: “This strategy is focused on ensuring we provide our customers with the best digital tools available in order to bring people and property together more effectively and help our customers meet their needs.
“Our role as lead partner is a great example of how a strategic partnership between Countrywide and an agile start-up can deliver excellent results for both our customers and our business.”
David Livesey, Connells Group CEO, said: “Fixflo offers a unique proposition for our tenants and landlords and as an early adopter, we’re delighted to form this strategic partnership.”
Alex Chesterman, founder and CEO of Zoopla Property Group, said: “We are delighted to announce our partnership with Fixflo, one of the most innovative tech businesses in the UK property sector.
“Our goal is to help make interactions between consumers and professionals in the property space as effective as they can be and this deal reaffirms our ongoing commitment to leading innovation across the property sector and to nurturing UK property technology entrepreneurs.”
Although Fixflo currently has only one product on offer, there are new specialist software products on the horizon, and Zoopla, Countrywide and Connells will work closely with Fixflo on their development.
Fixflo offers a specialist service and is not a full management software system for letting agents.
Founder Rajeev Nayyar, who launched Fixflo in 2013, told EYE: “While we occupy a niche, it is very broad niche, in a market that is both very fragmented but also facing more and more regulation – although not the basic regulation required, as the Government does not do the obvious thing and introduce licensing of agents themselves.
“The investment announced today means that we will have more resources and the ability to serve all our customers better.
“We will be working on enhancements to what we already have, and will be launching a compliant-focused product for agents later this year.”
He added: “The future of specialist proptech firms is very important to agents, but being able to integrate these specialist apps into their main back-office systems is crucial.
“I can only see a proliferation of these niche applications which can bolt on – we ourselves are integrated with nine software systems in the UK.”
He added: “Our ambition since inception has been to become the standard way in which repairs are reported and resolved in homes and places of work around the world and today’s announcement marks a significant step towards that objective.
“These strategic partnerships with leaders across the UK property market give us the research and development capabilities we need to deliver on an ambitious range of products to benefit our customers in an increasingly competitive market.”
Nayyar also clarified that an earlier attempt to offer Fixflo direct to private landlords had been pulled: “We now only deal with letting agents and block managers, and big institutional landlords with their own in-house management.”
Not yet three years old, Fixflo has expanded swiftly across the UK and overseas, including Australia and the US.
Eddie Holmes of PropTechConsult.com led the deal on behalf of Countrywide, the Connells Group and Zoopla Property Group, supported by Taylor Wessing.