Digital startup Gavl has secured $1.8 million in its Series A funding from Harris Capital, the investment office of Flight Centre founder Geoff Harris.
Launched in December 2016, Gavl enables real-time bidding of live-streamed auctions from anywhere in the world.
Founded by AFL player-turned-businessman Joel Smith with Leith Donaldson and Michael Artup, Gavl was launched with a $300,000 bootstrap from Joel and his father-in-law. This was followed by a $2.5 million investment in June 2016 by Harris Capital, which enabled Gavl to live stream its first auction and release its iOS and Android apps.
Gavl aims to raise another $4.2m to reach its $6 million goal to enable it to launch of live auction bidding, so buyers can view and make bids at auction in real time from anywhere in the world, using eight of the world’s major currencies.
Joel Smith, CEO of Gavl, said the app is not about cutting out auctioneers.
“The traditional auction process hasn’t changed at all. It is simply a communication platform and if anything it enhances the process. It allows agents and auctioneers to engage and communicate during the most important part of the process – the sale.”
The feedback from agents has been overwhelmingly positive, Joel says.
“Agents get access to the most powerful tool out there: video and data. There is a library of every single auction and every single test case example they need. It’s two pieces of information they haven’t had access to before at their fingertips.
The app is free to download and user-friendly, no matter the level of tech capabilities.
“The beauty of the tech is its simplicity to use. If you can send a text message or email, you can fully use Gavl. Simple as that,” Joel said.
Feedback from vendors has also been positive.
“Usually, auctions are held curbside in the front street with the vendors inside the house. From our research, most vendors are well informed leading up to event, but come 10 minutes during the auction, they are in the dark with what’s going on. This has been amazing tool for vendors, giving them a better experience and in a better position to make decisions.”
The Gavl app has a patent-pending technology that can broadcast live events with a one-second latency. According to Gavl, Facebook live is commonly used by the industry but is believed to have a longer latency.
“When we tested Facebook Live for auction live streaming, we were measuring a 5-20 second latency. In an auction environment, this delay could be the difference between a property selling for $950,000 and $1.1 million. We spent 15 months developing the technology to live stream with a one-second latency as well as address another challenge for agents: network reliability with live streaming and this technology is key for us in launching live auction bidding.”
Harris Capital is the investment office of Flight Centre founder Geoff Harris – who was an early investor in Boost Juice, Topdeck, Fonda Mexican and former Vice President of the Hawthorn Football Club – managed by his son, entrepreneur and philanthropist Brad Harris.
Brad Harris, Managing Director of Harris Capital, says, “Harris Capital is excited to expand its partnership with Gavl. In the start-up area, we see a lot of pitches, but very few truly have a world-first technology, with significant barriers to entry and a huge market size to capitalise on. Given this, we are not surprised that Gavl is experiencing exponential growth in its first full year of commercial operation.
Further development and innovation resulting from the total raise includes digital contract signing, deposit transfer facilitation between buyer and seller via the agent and 360-degree camera and Artificial Intelligence integration. With 25 permanent staff, it will also permit Gavl to expand sales teams in new regions.
According to the company, 200 Australian real estate agencies have signed up and so far have broadcast 3,500 auctions to reach 2.5 million views. The app has been downloaded in 44 countries.