Former BBC Dragon plans to invest over £10m backing 20 start-ups within the property sector

James Caan’s property-focused venture capital vehicle, Hamilton Bradshaw Real Estate (HBRE), has invested in Surrey-based estate agency start-up Ivy Gate.

Founded by former regional managing director of Your Move's London operation Jason Tebb, Ivy Gate is a technology play designed to disrupt the traditional estate agency model with an experienced team on the ground to create strong relationships with clients.

“Estate agency is changing," said Tebb. "With sales and lettings moving online, it’s no longer necessary to have a high street presence. We are looking to selectively recruit real local people, familiar faces within the community, who understand their market better than anyone else and who will be in tune with our client’s needs."

The fledgling company will initially focus on south west London and Surrey with Tebb recruiting senior professionals in the property market. It's a strategy HBRE co-founder and managing director Faisal Butt, along with Caan, believe will save them the hundreds of millions it would cost to acquire an established estate agency chain. 

“Under our mentorship, Jason will now become the dragon in the estate agency sector and search for others like him to build Ivy Gate into the best ‘personal service’ estate agency in Greater London.”

“We won’t be hiring graduates or trainees, only experienced professionals. We’re looking for the top agents in their area. Why spend £380 million buying Foxtons when you can hire their best negotiators instead.” 

The deal marks the fifth venture capital investment for HBRE, following the recent launches of 90 North Real Estate Partners – a Shari’ah compliant real estate investment specialist – and high-end interior design agency Accouter Design. Butt said he had interviewed more than 100 candidates to find the right personality to invest in. 

The pair have ambitious plans to expand and develop the real estate industry over the next two to three years, pledging to invest over £10m in backing 20 property-based start-ups.

Citing the real estate market as ripe for investment and change, Butt said: “Post-crisis, venture capitalists have stayed within the technology sector while other sectors, property in particular, have found it difficult to attract funding. 

“Real estate is dominated by the traditional firms, which makes it a challenging environment for start-ups. The fact that the sector hasn’t changed much over the years means it is ripe for disruption.”