Ietty fundraises $500,000, aiming to disrupt Japanese home rental industry



Based on our original story in Japanese.

Ietty is a Japanese startup that provides an alternative to conventional househunting. The startup announced yesterday it has raised 50 million yen (approximately $500,000) from I Mercury Capital, the investment arm of Japanese social network Mixi [1]. Since its launch back in February of 2012, the company has been developing its service in stealth mode. But it seems that, coinciding with these new funds raised, they are turning up at many showcasing opportunities like Graph Hack Award 2013.

Ietty, the platform that the startup provides under its company name, aims to solve problems for both homeseekers and property agents. When you use conventional home finder sites, you need to enter lots of criteria to find something to fit your preference. But Ietty uses your Facebook user profile, and agents propose some available options via the platform based on criteria you have entered in advance.

Property agents will pay a commission to the platform on a performance basis, so they have no risk in signing up. The platform was launched back in June in beta, and has partnered with eight different agents to date. The startup’s CEO Taihei Ogawa explained what makes the platform different from conventional services.

The property agent business connects homeseekers and landlords through a property. For users, even if you can find no property that fits your preference, we can help you connect to appropriate agents likely to introduce a good one for your search.

From an agent’s perspective, the more users the platform has, the more likely an agent is to close deals. For the users who receive no manual contact from agents, the platform has a recommendation engine that automatically proposes a set of available apartments based on your preference.

Ietty founder/CEO Taihei Ogawa

Prior to launching the platform, the startup’s CEO Ogawa previously worked at Sumitomo Realty & Development, a well-established Japanese property agents. When he determined to launch a startup, he started studying about business models in the IT industry and participated in Incubate Camp, the program run by Japanese startup incubator Incubate Fund. Ogawa explains:

I’ve never seen any other industry where customer satisfaction so extremely low. That’s why this market is worth disrupting. By boosting our business, I believe the market can become more competitive and more transparent in how it presents information to consumers.

It will be interesting to see how this startup will might evolve such an old-fashioned industry, where consumers have been paying high incidental expenses for house relocation.

  1. The company’s name comes from the Japanese word for home ‘ie’, which they are apparenty turning into an adjective somehow.