Flow of South Africa raises funds to automate social media advertising for real estate agencies

The technique utilized by millions of agents and thousands of property websites throughout the world to contact buyers and sellers via digital media is highly fragmented. And, unlike other businesses, proptech is clearly trailing behind in terms of leveraging social media to promote sales.

Flow, a South African business, intends to alter the way real estate companies, developers, and brokers communicate with their end consumers. Flow links to real estate agency and developer websites via APIs and automates advertising on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. The proptech marketing platform has announced that it has secured $4.5 million in pre-Series A investment.

The cash will be used by the proptech to engage additional social media sites such as TikTok and LinkedIn, as well as other advertising channels such as outdoor billboards. Gil Sperling and Daniel Levy, co-founders and co-CEOs of Flow, will use the funding to accelerate the company’s B2B development strategy and connect Flow’s social media-driven property marketing platform with established international property portals and CRM platforms.

Sperling and Levy launched Flow in 2017 as an app that rewards tenants for paying their rent on time. Prior to Flow, the founders founded Popimedia, an adtech and performance marketing firm that was the largest buyer of Facebook media inventory in Africa for some of the world’s top companies. While they sold the firm to global communications giant Publicis in 2016, they used some of the lessons they learned while running Popimedia to help shape Flow into the business model it is today four years later.

“In our initial adtech business, we never dealt with real estate or property since we could never properly watch after them in this nation [South Africa]. “And the biggest difficulty was that, while real estate is the world’s largest asset class and a very rich business, it’s also the least inventive because it’s just incredibly fragmented,” Sperling said over the phone to TechCrunch.

“When buying and selling property, for example in South Africa, 40,000 brokers promote 300,000 offers at any one time. Because they are commissioners, every agent is essentially a small little company, and there’s no way they can afford for everyone to have a marketing, data science, and design department like big companies can, which is one of the reasons we couldn’t do ads or performance marketing for a lot of them.”

“When buying and selling property, for example in South Africa, 40,000 brokers promote 300,000 offers at any one time. Because they are commissioners, every agent is essentially a small little company, and there’s no way they can afford for everyone to have a marketing, data science, and design department like big companies can, which is one of the reasons we couldn’t do ads or performance marketing for a lot of them.”

According to Flow, their proptech marketing platform increases agent sales and home buyer and seller experiences. Levy, on the other hand, claims that the firm gets money when these agents utilize its SaaS platform and by taking a part of their marketing budget. He also stated that income has increased by 20% month on month over the last year.

“Our entry into the industry was primarily door-to-door from franchisor to franchisee to various offices within this group. And in recent months, we’ve found what we term the enterprise channel, which is more concerned with attaching our technology to portals,” the co-CEO explained. “As a result, our next phase of traction and growth will come from the connections that count in our world. And that’s why we just performed this capital raising to test the waters.”

Flow presently has over 300 clients using its platform, including a real estate firm or developer with 15 to 20 smaller agents in each location. Flow is utilized by around 6,000 agents in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius, and Australia. It is in discussions with partners, mostly property portals and CRM systems, to grow into Europe (France, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom), where it will face greater competition – which the co-founders feel Flow will match with its technology. Technology will displace design focus, but with a larger consumer base.

With a $2 million investment, Futuregrowth Asset Management led Flow’s pre-Series A round. Endeavor Harvest Fund and serial entrepreneur Steven Heilbron increased their stakes, while current investors Kalon Venture Partners, Vunani Fintech Fund, and Buffet Investments increased their stakes as well.

“We have closely observed Flow’s development in South Africa and Australia, and its integration into the B2B side of the global real estate business as the next natural step in the company’s evolution,” said Amrish Narrandes, Head of Private Equity and Venture Capital at Futuregrowth Asset Management. “We share Daniel and Gil’s vision of bringing the real estate industry into the twenty-first century and are confident that they have the expertise and experience to make it happen – and we are delighted to be part of a South African company that is taking bold steps to bring much-needed change to a vital global industry.”

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