London the ideal launchpad for proptech ventures

Two LBS students want to revolutionise the real estate industry with their award-winning venture

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London is a property technology (proptech) investor’s dream according to London Business School (LBS) MBA students Taha Dar and Gil Razafinarivo who have won This is Money’s Great British Entrepreneur Challenge.

They are working with Startup Funding Club and angel investor Andy Yates to finalise a £40,000 co-investment for their proptech business Search Smartly

“London is an ideal launchpad for a proptech venture,” said the Razafinarivo. “The local market is property-obsessed, yet the transaction experience is outdated and ripe for disruption.” 

The multibillion pound property industry affects everyone at some stage in their lives. Despite this, traditional high-street estate agents operating in archaic ways – for instance, their tendency to favour fast deals over the best deals – still dominate. Search Smartly’s nifty technology could help real estate agents match customer lifestyle preferences – commuting times, the social scene, local amenities – with the perfect rental property.

The city, crammed with buzzing networks, is the ideal location to try out new ideas, Razafinarivo said. “London is the right place if you want to network with diverse, bright entrepreneurs and get your hands dirty with a hackathon or entrepreneurship programmes.” 

The entrepreneurs, who faced tough competition for the chance of investment and mentoring from successful investor Yates, also credit the capital for helping them get noticed by leading investors in Europe.

The idea for Search Smartly was born at LBS, with Dar and Razafinarivo agreeing that the real estate industry is lagging behind in terms of technology and customer satisfaction. Both had first-hand knowledge of the high price people pay to find the right pad. 

Prior to LBS, Dar lived in London where he developed machine learning technology to optimise the performance of Formula One cars. Razafinarivo has lived in Paris and worked with tech giants such as Microsoft, Cisco and Salesforce.

“We are bringing our passion to change the status quo. There’s a gap between the real estate professionals and many of us,” Razafinarivo said. And the proptech co-founders have a plan to close it.