Japanese apartment search portal raises $1M



This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Chintai Joho Co., the startup behind apartment search portal Cashback Chintai, announced today that it has fundraised 100 million yen (about $975,300) from Japanese investment firm Global Brain.

Their portal allows property agents to list apartments on a pay-per-performance basis, which doesn’t require them to pay any adverting fee until a contract is made with a tenant. If you agree on a contract for an apartment via the website, some ‘housewarming’ reward money will be given to you. At this time, the property company can be notified that a deal was been made via the website, because they are billed at this time.

Since its beta launch back in November of last year, they have been rapidly growing, with over 1.2 million apartments listed during the busy relocation season last month. They plan to use the new funds to step up system development and marketing, as well as enrich the content on their website. The smartphone-optimized interface for the site will be launched early next month.

Shifting an industry

Shoji Endo
Shoji Endo

Some of our readers may aware that entrepreneur Shoji Endo is on the company’s board of directors. He launched his first business while attending university, and subsequently joined Japanese job search company Livesense (TSE:6054) as director in its early stages. You may recall we reported last year about the acquisition of his previous startup DreamPass.

At Livesense, he deployed the concept giving users congratulatory money when they were hired through the company’s job search portal. It subsequently helped Livesense defeat many other job sites. Now he is bringing this idea to the property business.

Unique apartment portal model?

A performance-based revenue model using the concept giving users congratulatory money is not new. So why has no one tried it in the property business industry? According to the company’s CEO Isshin Kaneuji, it’s likely just how the industry works. Considering things from an accounting perspective, typical property agents have specific figures for how much they pay for each apartment search sites, regardless of whether that effort results in contracts. He explained:

Some estate agent franchisers buy and book ad spaces for affiliated stores. In some cases, this cost is included in a franchise fee that the stores will pay every month. Conversion-based billing is cost-effective for agents when listing their apartment ads, but it may be difficult for small stores to request their affiliating franchiser to change the fee scheme.

It will be interesting to see how their website evolves this space where other two big players (Recruit’s Suumo and Homes) still dominate.