Ender, a new Austin-based real estate company with a platform aimed at streamlining the rental property management process, has raised $7 million in a seed round of funding.
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Germany’s Global Founders Capital led the financing, which included participation from Tuesday Capital, LeFrak, HOF Capital, Cherubic Ventures, Circle Ventures, and other unnamed “VC funds and real estate groups.”
It’s a refrain that those of us covering real estate tech have heard over and over again. The group aims to help modernize an industry that is “stuck in the dark ages.”
Jason Mirra, co-founder and CTO of Ender, says he hasn’t seen “an industry so backward since govtech.”
The company’s goal is to help owners of rental homes more efficiently (i.e. digitally) handle day-to-day operations of property management such as maintenance requests, collect rent, show their properties and manage leasing applications. Basically, as co-founder and CEO Jon Lonsdale describes it, Ender aims to be “a cohesive platform [that] benefits property investors, tenants, and vendors by simplifying leasing, payments, accounting, and communication” in one place.
“We knew we could build better software than what’s out there but it needed to integrate directly with [existing] operations and vendors,” Lonsdale (who happens to the brother of Palantir co-founder Joseph Lonsdale) told me.
Ender is also working on integrating smart home technology into all the rental units its platform helps manage. It’s working on building out technology that will integrate with smart locks, water leak sensors, motion sensors, and other smart home integrations. Vetted vendors working within the Ender platform are able access units through the Ender system. Currently, the company is focused on single-family homes but plans to eventually also branch out into multifamily.
In the new year, Ender plans to release its software-only product for owners and property managers to use. This is in addition to its existing “Smart Leasing” service, which essentially schedules self-showings, sends applications online and processes credit and background checks.
Sidenote: the company was named after “Ender’s Game,” a 1985 military science novel by Orson Scott Card, which Lonsdale said the founding team found “inspiring.” Also, Mirra and Joseph Lonsdale previously co-founded Addepar, an investment management platform.
Ender is just one of an increasing number of real estate tech startups based in Austin. There’s also REX (which recently raised $40 million), OpCity (which was acquired by Move for $210 million in mid-2018), and Homeward (which raised $25 million in July), among others.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias