Edinburgh investment firm headed up by Shaf Rasul partners with software start-up to create innovative commercial property tool
Edinburgh-based property investment specialist SRA Ventures is partnering with an innovative software start-up to create a commercial property tool it says will significantly reduce administrative burdens and harness faster transactions for agents.
SRA Ventures – founded and owned by Scots entrepreneur and former online ‘Dragon’ Shaf Rasul – has teamed up with Edinburgh University spin-out Apply.Property, whose residential property software is already helping agents convert enquiries to viewings and viewings to offers.
To date, the team behind it has received significant backing in the shape of £150,000 seed stage funding from three major Angel investors, while the company is now valued at £2 million.
Apple.Property allows agents to offer prospective property buyers and tenants the ability to easily book viewings online 24/7, 365 days per year.
The software – currently being used by high-profile clients including Rettie & Co and Rent Locally – significantly heightens efficiency by providing instant responses to all portal enquiries, emails, and out-of-hours calls, automatically indicating the agent’s viewing ability.
The tool essentially moves the application process online, reducing paperwork and enabling agents and tenants to sign a lease when on a viewing, or for buyers to make an offer while actually in the property.
However, SRA Ventures believes there is now huge potential for a new version tailored specifically to the commercial property market.
Shaf Rasul, star of the BBC’s online Dragon’s Den and founder of E-Net Computers – which went on to become the largest storage media distributor in Europe – was quick to spot the tool’s vast potential and to realise that it could be useful in the commercial space.
The new partnership with Apply.Property will see an initial beta testing phase of this commercial property version, followed by further development with a view to then introducing it to the market.
Apply.Property was founded earlier this year by Edinburgh University students Sam Zawadzki and Bilal Khan, with Rasul mentoring and providing early stage fundraising advice after meeting Sam at a guest lecture.
SRA Ventures owns and manages a diverse range of industrial, retail, commercial and mixed use asset properties across Scotland, focusing on under-performing commercial assets.
Zawadzki said: “With the benefit of Shaf’s advice, we quickly focused on understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. His continual direction towards sales was vital in helping us to build early traction in the market.
“We are now very excited by the possibilities that a commercial property version of our software can offer to the market.
“In fact, we chose to work with SRA Ventures as the online application element of our software makes it easy to compare offers from commercial clients, and to review the credibility of their proposal. After doing so, we had no doubts that SRA Ventures represented the right partner for our business.
“We are also pleased to have major Angel investors on board, including Henry Yates who runs specialised commercial property site EstateCreate, founder of utilities comparison service Simply Switch, Karen Darby, and Julian Hucker of business text message marketing company Esendex.”
Rasul added: “From our first meeting, I was immediately struck by the in-depth knowledge and ability that Sam and Bilal displayed. It was clear that they could offer something new and interesting to the market, and that their own ambitions might be realised through the right guidance.
“We now firmly believe that the exceptional potential of their residential software can be adapted and utilised for wide benefits in commercial property.”
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