Lagos-based real estate classifieds start-up ToLet.com.ng has raised a $1.2 million Series A round of funding from Frontier Digital Ventures to improve its technology platform, bolster its marketing efforts and aggressively expansion across Nigeria over the next 12-18 months.
According to Shaun Di Gregorio founder and CEO of FDV: “We are super excited to be making this investment into ToLet.com.ng, and look forward to being part of helping fuel their next stage of accelerated growth. We have full confidence in the ability of the founding team to continue with the awesome job they have already started and we look forward to the consolidation of their position as the Number One property classifieds portal in Nigeria.”
Founded in 2012 as Estanode.com by Fikayo Ogundipe, Sulaiman Balogun, Dapo Eludire and Seyi Ayeni with just $400 as capital, the four Obafemi Awolowo University fresh graduates raised a $230,000 seed fund from Spark.ng a year later and then rebranded to ToLet.com.ng. This latest raise is a sign of confidence in the team, their business and the entire Nigerian market.
Despite a recession being officially declared by the Nation’s Statisticians, the Real Estate Services in the Second Quarter of 2016 still grew by 2.12%. The contribution to nominal GDP in the Second Quarter of 2016 was 8.64%.Which only further validates the company’s belief in brighter days ahead. ToLet.com.ng’s mission is to be the largest property vertical in Africa by 2020.
ToLet is not the first to raise funding from Malaysia-based Frontier Digital Ventures. Last year it invested $500,000 in Ghanaian real estate classifieds start-up MeQasa and this year the firm acquired a majority stake in it. It has also invested in Tanzania’s Kupatana and Mozambique’s CasaMozambique.
Frontier Digital Ventures recently raised US$22.9 million from an an oversubscribed IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) to double its presence in emerging markets then increased its shareholding in MeQasa.com, a property portal in Ghana.
FDV also runs Afribaba.com, a leading general classifieds portal that operates across French speaking markets in West Africa, Kupatana.com, a general classifieds website in Tanzania with a growing presence in Uganda, Moteur.ma, an automotive portal in Morocco, CarWangu is the first automotive portal to be launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), AngolaCarro, an early stage automotive portal and the first to be launched in Angola, a country of 21.5 million people, AngoCasa is an early stage real estate classifieds portal in a very early stage market, IMCongo, a property portal the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Unlike competitors who use subscription models, ToLet collects commissions, which essentially makes its service a performance-based one and ensures ‘it does’t get paid unless its agents get paid’. The commission fee is the model locally operated among Nigerian real estate agents.
”Our research showed that Nigerian real estate agents prefer the model of sharing commissions on closed deals as against paying subscriptions that don’t have guaranteed returns”, says co-founder Sulaiman Balogun.
From inception till date, ToLet.com.ng has facilitated over 8 million dollars in transactions value and currently boasts of roughly 20,000 listings online from a growing number of just over 3,500 real-estate agents.