February 27, 2014/Manila – ZipMatch, a Manila-based company which provides solutions for the real estate industry, has raised its first seed round from a combined group of global and local investors led by IMJ Fenox and which includes 500 Startups, IdeaSpace, and Hatchd Digital.
ZipMatch’s real estate portal www.zipmatch.com helps property buyers choose from a curated selection of properties and provides information via real estate trends, investment and finance advice, as well as a helpful ‘concierge’ service. Likewise, ZipMatch is able to provide a streamlined home-buying experience through its strategic partnerships with banks and real estate associations.
John Dang, co-founder of ZipMatch, said, “What we’re trying to do is solve the problems of Philippine real estate. While companies like Zillow, Trulia and RedFin have become billion dollar companies for creating solutions applicable only to the US market, we have a lot more to fix locally. This is where ZipMatch comes in.”
His co-founder Chow Paredes concurred: “ZipMatch’s unique, high quality property listings for buyers are just one piece of the puzzle. Our systems are set up in a way to support brokers and sellers in becoming more professional. We create tools and services that professionalize the industry and help them work according to international service standards.”
ZipMatch’s bootstrap business strategy has kept them ahead of the field, turning a financial profit since the start of its operation. But now ZipMatch wants to roll out its solutions on a larger scale, hence the choice of international investors like IMJ Fenox and 500 Startups, as well as strong local investors like IdeaSpace and Hatchd Digital.
“We were looking for investors who were not only locals who have strong connections with the local market but also international investors who can give us access to global capital markets, knowledge and networks.” Dang said.
Likewise, Kyle Wiltshire, ZipMatch’s IT Director, said the entrance of the investors is just the start: “Having respected investors and mentors like IMJ Fenox and 500 Startups investing in Philippine companies is a strong indicator of things to come for ZipMatch and the industry as a whole.”
The startup deal had its beginnings at last year’s Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) event on the sunny beaches of Boracay, set up by TechTalks.ph, a company dedicated to connecting people in the tech and startup industry both locally and abroad. Present at the event were representatives of local and international startup incubators, as well as major telcos like Smart.
Leading the investors is IMJ Fenox, a collaborative effort between Japanese venture capitalist IMJ Investment Partners and the Silicon Valley fund Fenox Venture Capital. They’re known for helping startups in Southeast Asia penetrate global markets. Koichi Saito, General Manager of IMJ Fenox, said they chose to invest in ZipMatch because they’re “unlike traditional classified ad portals” and they’re coming up with out-of-the-box solutions for local real estate problems that existing solutions haven’t been able to solve.
“ZipMatch is operating in a booming space, which is the real estate market in Philippines. 68 percent of the Filipino population is below the age of 35, and as more people become tech-savvy, the demand for efficient ways of doing things online will grow rapidly” Koichi pointed out.
Also part of the investing group is the Silicon Valley-based accelerator and venture capital fund, 500 Startups, which supports over 650 companies in 40 countries with funding, global mentors, and an entrepreneur network. Venture partner Khailee Ng of 500 Startups says, “We’re always looking for the next big success story in each country, and we see this with ZipMatch.”
On the other hand, IdeaSpace is a Philippine-based multimillion-dollar non-profit technology incubator helping out entrepreneurs. The foundation is backed by industry leaders under the First Pacific group, which includes telco leaders such as PLDT and Smart. Earl Martin Valencia, president and co-founder of IdeaSpace, said: “ZipMatch is a great example of a passionate team that wants to solve real world problems in a fast-growing economy like the Philippines.”
Likewise, Hatchd Digital is a leading tech incubator in the Philippines with expertise in technology, telecommunications, investment banking and media. One of their portfolio companies is the high profile media company, Rappler.com. The other local and international investors in the group include angels from Sweden, Silicon Valley and Manila.
(Versions of this article also appeared in TechinAsia, Yahoo Finance, Sun Star, and Property Portal Watch. Likewise, tech news site e27 interviewed ZipMatch founder John Dang here.)
About the Investors
IMJ Fenox: IMJ Fenox, a collaborative effort between Japanese venture capitalist IMJ Investment Partners and the Silicon Valley fund Fenox Venture Capital, focuses on investing in startups from Southeast Asia. IMJ is an active investor that runs an accelerator program in Japan and is the largest provider of web integration service in Japan. The portfolio companies of IMJ Fenox benefits from IMJ’s domain expertise in web integration and direct development support. Additionally, they have access to Fenox’s global network for entry into new markets. Website: http://www.imjfenox.com/en/
500 Startups: A Silicon Valley-based accelerator and venture capital fund, 500 Startups provides early-stage companies with up to $250K in funding, a startup accelerator program, and unique events like SmashSummit, UnSexy, and GeeksOnaPlane. With hundreds of experienced startup mentors around the world, their creative work space in the heart of Silicon Valley, and a vibrant community of startup founders, they help companies succeed in ways other venture firms do not. Website: http://500.co/
IdeaSpace: IdeaSpace Foundation is a Philippine-based multimillion-dollar non-profit technology incubator backed by industry leaders under the First Pacific group, which includes telco leaders such as PLDT and Smart. Their aim is to help budding technology entrepreneurs develop groundbreaking innovations and transform these into successful businesses. They go beyond just investing in startups as they offer a program needed at critical phases when ideas are being turned into actual commercial products that combine business incubation and acceleration. Website: http://ideaspacefoundation.org/
Hatchd Digital: Hatchd Digital, Inc. is a tech incubator whose mission is to ideate, incubate, accelerate and monetize business ideas. It was incorporated in the Philippines in November 2010 by a group of individuals with expertise on technology, telecommunications, investment banking, media, software development, e-Commerce and digital content. Website: http://www.hatchddigital.com/index.html