Originally written by Emma Hinchliffe, published on Inman News
Radius, a fast-growing social network and referral platform for real estate agents, has raised $4 million in a Series A round of funding led by Trulia founder Pete Flint’s venture capital firm NFX, Inman has learned.
Formerly known as Agentdesks, Radius is a social network for agents, that facilitates referrals among real estate professionals across the country. While the network is free to join, agents who close deals with buyers through Radius pay 25 percent to the agent who sent the client and 5 percent to Radius. Agents who close deals with sellers pay 25 percent to the referring agent and 10 percent to Radius.
“We’re the only ones going with the social network approach to help agents solve problems,” Radius co-founder Biju Ashokan told Inman on Monday. “We could build a CRM, we could build something like Zillow or just build a referral platform. We’re strong believers that the power of community is going to solve most of their problems. It doesn’t have to be tech.”
Ashokan and co-founder Sanya Gurnani founded the first version of Agentdesks about two years ago. Ashokan previously ran another real estate startup called Metroplots, a brokerage that connected Indian residents in the United States with properties in India.
[Suggested Read: Radius can help you CLOSE MORE DEALS! Know how, now!]
Last year, Radius connected with Flint, who, following his departure from Trulia, became managing partner at the venture capital firm NFX. Initially, Flint declined to invest in the startup due to a lack of focus and traction, he said. Three months later, the company addressed Flint’s concerns, and NFX invested in the first quarter of 2018.
Now, Radius has 70,000 registered users, 45,000 of which are active members. The startup has relied entirely on organic, word-of-mouth growth and hasn’t invested in paid advertising.
Users only need to submit a real estate license number to sign up. Flint compared the platform to LinkedIn, a professional network that’s free to join but requires payment for some features. The social network has a desktop version but is focused on its mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android.
Radius’ 70,000 total members span all 50 states and a number of brokerages, including Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Re/Max, Compass, and Redfin, Ashokan said. The startup has struck partnerships with associations including Certified Residential Specialists, the Asian Real Estate Association of America and the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, but it hasn’t tried to partner with any brokerages.
“It’s not something I’d seen have any level of traction,” Flint said about Radius’ social media network. “Within Trulia and Zillow there are community forums for agent-to-agent communication, but that’s a desktop orientation. The real estate industry is fundamentally one of ‘coopetition’ — everyone cooperates with each other, and everyone competes with each other.”
“It’s fundamentally an enormous market,” he added. “The way that business is done today, it’s done in a very analog, offline way. This is a way to professionalize it and make it more efficient.”
Along with Flint and NFX, former Trulia president Paul Levine, Roofstock CEO Gary Beasley, Sierra Ventures partner Tim Guleri, former Ten-X President Jake Seid and others also invested in this Series A round. Radius had previously raised $2.4 million in seed funding.
With its Series A funding, Radius will focus on building out its referral network and creating more products that allow agents to collaborate with each other. Along with referrals, the platform also sees agents post pocket listings — a practice it doesn’t explicitly encourage or discourage.
Radius doesn’t plan to turn to paid marketing in the future, instead hoping that its 70,000-strong network will only accelerate its growth.
“Agents are becoming brands by themselves,” Ashokan said. “We want to build something that makes that process faster.”