Although real estate has embraced online listings and searches, other parts of the home selling process remain unmodernized. The touring and showing process is one such part. By and large, individuals who wish to see a property in person often have to go through an agent to arrange a visit. This aspect preserves the necessity of agents and the resulting commissions that hurt both the buyer and seller of the property.
SimpleShowing is looking to shake up this niche. This Deal to Watch has built a mobile app that allows users to book a showing, which the home-seller can then directly confirm or reject. It is also expanding into B2B services as well. We spoke to co-founder Fred McGill to learn more about this unaddressed need in the real estate space and what investors should know about the company.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
SimpleShowing is the new way to tour or buy a home. Our Self-Tour technology allows consumers to book property showings online and tour homes independently, without an agent. Our mission is to help make housing more affordable and to help consumers save time and money when buying or selling their home.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
I found the process of scheduling home tours and making offers very frustrating and inefficient. I validated this frustration with extensive research to understand what solutions existed for consumers. We set out to improve a process that occurs mostly offline and manually today. Real estate is a space that relies heavily on humans and services, while lacking the modern technology and innovation that we’ve come to expect from other aspects of our lives.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
I previously worked for Salesforce.com as well as a VC backed health tech startup. I also had about 10 years of experience with real estate investment properties prior to starting the company and an MBA from Georgia Tech.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
We are in the “early innings” of innovation in the real estate space. With the exception of home search apps, every other aspect of buying a home occurs mostly offline and in a disjointed fashion.
We believe that the most critical stage of the home buying process occurs when someone actually tours a property. The tour/showing event represents the intersection of when the buyer becomes both emotionally prepared and financially capable of purchasing a home.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
My co-founder Jeremy and I were college roommates. He has extensive experience in real estate investing and finance. Several of our team members have experience with early stage startups — having worked for B2C and B2B companies at various revenue levels.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Yes, consumers use our services to either buy or sell a home. To that extent, we compete with any traditional real estate brokerage — such as Keller Williams or ReMax. Our Self-Tour product is more differentiated and proprietary. SimpleShowing “Self-Tour” resolves some of the challenges that arise from relying on an agent to find and tour homes. All large brokerages are structured in a way that forces the consumer down an inefficient path of trading phone calls, meetings and negotiating times to see properties. Self-Tour puts the consumer in control of the home touring process, instead of the agent. There are other companies developing solutions similar to SimpleShowing, but none are mainstream yet.
Can you elaborate on your patent that is pending?
We applied for patent protection in 2020 surrounding our proprietary use of ID verification for a specific process of property access of residential homes. Our patent also involves the use of an integrated physical lock which can be accessed using a one-time use pin issued through our platform.
What does your business model look like?
We primarily earn revenue from home closing transactions. In other words, we receive a commission when someone buys or sells a home with SimpleShowing. We also make money through a joint venture/partnership with a digital title company called Expetitle. This is a new revenue stream as of early 2021. Lastly, our Toura product provides us with a SaaS/recurring revenue stream from subscribers who use the Toura platform. Toura is currently in beta, but we expect it to become a core revenue contributor in the next 12 months.
Can you briefly explain the strategy behind launching toura?
We began developing the SimpleShowing “search and book” codebase nearly three years ago. We’ve continued to optimize the platform and have continued to see user adoption increase. Over the last year we’ve received interest from countless third parties, including real estate agents, brokerages, and companies who see value in utilizing SimpleShowing’s technology to grow their own businesses.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
We had tremendous success attracting investors in late 2019 during our first crowdfunding round. We maxed out our campaign at $1.07 million and brought on nearly 4,000 new investors. For this second crowdfunding campaign, we intend to use the capital to expand our team and accelerate the development and marketing of our Toura product. Having established solid and predictable revenue, we’ve reached an important stage in our business. We believe that a capital infusion will only further boost what we can accomplish from a software development standpoint.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
I would point to our track record. We have experienced dependable and predictable growth, even despite the COVID pandemic. After more than three years in business, we’ve discovered exciting growth opportunities that will require additional capital to pursue and execute on. From a timing perspective, this is a fantastic time and stage to invest in our company and also in the broader real estate tech space.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Large real estate technology players like Zillow and CoStar have demonstrated an appetite to acquire upstarts like SimpleShowing. Both have made several acquisitions in the last 12 months alone. Similarly, big real estate brokerage brands are now beginning to form technology evaluation programs, which explore technology acquisitions that might help protect their market share. For example, ReMax is a publicly traded brand that is very active in the M&A space. Similarly, Redfin — which is sort of a blend of a technology and real estate brokerage — is also publicly traded and regularly evaluates building their business through acquisitions.
We also see a potential exit opportunity via the mortgage industry, because we’re able to attract homebuyers, who ultimately need a mortgage. This could be accelerated with our Self-Tour product, particularly if we are successful in expanding this nationally to third party agents.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Fred and his team take the company. SimpleShowing is currently raising on Republic.