SNUBBED IDEA INSPIRES FORMER REA STAFF

Written on the 9 March 2016 by Jenna Rathbone

SNUBBED IDEA INSPIRES FORMER REA STAFF

AFTER working for REA Group (ASX:REA) this trio recognised the giant online real estate advertising portal was ignoring a big proportion of the property market, so they decided to tackle the opportunity on their own. 

Serge Kotlyarov, Andrew Brown and Max Sim, ex-REA tech experts, have launched an office space search engine with more than 6000 listings of offices for sale or lease, which they say equates to 65 per cent of Australia's vacant office space.

Brown (pictured left) says the portal, named Jagonal, aims to fill a need in the market, a need that REA Group snubbed.

"While working at REA Group we noticed the business focus was very much on the money maker, which is the residential; it is about 93 per cent of their incoming revenue," says Brown.

"Any time we would sit in a big board meeting with CEOs, the commercial team would very nervously put their hand up and say 'can we put some time into the real commercial product'?  They were often waved away by the CEOs who would say 'don't worry about that', because the main focus was on residential."

While REA Group has a similar portal, realcommercial.com.au, Brown says it is just a regurgitation of realestate.com.au and doesn't cater to the needs of those seeking office space.

"They have essentially copied realestate.com.au and put a new coat of paint on it, with a new colour scheme and new logo," says Brown.

"But it is the same sort of search model and it just doesn't fit because the commercial market works very differently to residential."

The founders say Jagonal, launched in April last year, solves many issues currently presented by other commercial office listing sites, the biggest being inflexible advertising models, irrelevant results and lack of detail of the commercial offices on offer.

Jagonal takes office search to the next level by allowing tenants to search using more than 50 filters, including specific precinct, office size, cost, showers, bike parking, child care or transport.

It has also developed its own patent-pending 3D mapping engine which allows overseas investors and tenants to virtually see the physical location of any listed office building, including nearby infrastructure.  Users can also generate a panoramic view from any window in the CBD to simulate the experience of being in the office.

"Users are able to search by these criteria which is becoming increasingly important for the tenants because the office now is like the second home," says Brown.

"Essentially the competitors offer print-style classified ads that have been slapped on the web but we are sort of putting meat on the bone."

To date, Jagonal has raised $2.3 million in seed capital and has opened its next round of Series A capital raising to fund expansion into Singapore and Asian markets.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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