London-based hedge fund Toscafund, which has a focus on fast-growth SMEs in sectors that are being disrupted by new challengers, led the investment to build on a portfolio that includes online car insurance firm Esure.
Marking easyProperty’s third round, Toscafund put forward £14m and has the opportunity to invest a further £9m in the future, while additional investors – some old and some new – contributed £2m.
This completed beat the £5m target easyProperty had in place, which takes the firm’s total investment to £39.25m and valuation to £100m. CEO Rob Ellice is determined to take on traditional high street estate agents with the company’s online approach.
“This new, very substantial investment from Toscafund is a real opportunity to keep expanding both in the sales and lettings markets in the UK and in pan-European property services, and a sure indication of how we plan to take the market share from traditional high street agencies,” he said.
“The appetite of such a large institutional investor, and with ongoing talks of investment opportunities internationally, is a significant step forward for easyProperty; which is the most widely recognised consumer brand in what is a very fragmented estate agency market.”
Of course, Ellice was very vocal of his belief that the high street model is dead back in September, at which time easyProperty launched a PR stunt in the guise of a funeral for the traditional business sector.
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easyProperty’s previous two rounds of funding were also oversubscribed – it secured £4.5m in February 2014 and a further £9.75m in September, all of which was a combination of private finance, venture capital and crowdfunding.
Martin Hughes from Toscafund added: “Being the first to discover Direct Line Insurance in the 1980s, a motor insurance company that used the telephone, a then disruptive approach, to grow to become the largest UK motor insurer, I have successfully continued the search for disruptive businesses in the 30 years since.
“easyProperty offers the brand, technology and management to enable a considerable saving to property transaction costs compared to the incumbents. The online process is an impressive disruptive approach to ease a much needed overcharged road block to the population mobility.
“We look forward, with confidence, to easyProperty leading the online development of property transactions and services in the UK and Europe.”
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