FlyHomes raises $4M, plans to expand Chicago presence

October 5, 2017

FlyHomes, a real estate technology startup that helps consumers find housing in high-demand markets like Chicago, will soon be looking for some additional real estate of its own.

The startup, which has offices in Seattle and Chicago, announced on Thursday that it has raised $4 million in new funding to ramp up its marketing efforts and accelerate product development.

CEO Stephen Lane, who is based in Chicago, said the local office will play a big role in propelling the startup’s continued growth.

“We opened up our Chicago office early this summer under the radar, and we’ve been having a ton of success here,” he said. “We expect to grow our team here rapidly.”

FlyHomes was founded by Microsoft veterans Stephen Lane and Tushar Garg in 2015 while they were both MBA candidates at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Lane, who is the company’s CEO, said the idea came about when he and his wife were buying their first condo in Evanston.

“The process is frustrating, and it really goes against the grain of what most of us are used to,” he said. “Our dream was to find some way to make homebuying more transparent, fun and seamless.”

What they came up with was an online platform that lets users browse available houses and set up dashboards that alert them when new units come on the market. FlyHomes also has built-in capabilities for collaborative searching, for those looking to move in with a partner, family member or friend. The startup also analyzes every new listing that shows up in the market, to provide tailored recommendations to each user.

The company’s biggest differentiator, said Lane, is its emphasis on making its users more competitive in tight housing markets like Chicago, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco. FlyHomes provides on-demand showings to help shoppers get their bids in early, and the startup handles every part of the negotiation process for the customer.

That negotiation process is driven largely by the company’s proprietary analytics suite.

“We’ve got full-time pricing researchers on the negotiations side, and we are looking at all the data we can gather to find prices and what negotiations have been like previously,” Lane said. “We’re also data mining every part of the process to find out things like whether it makes more sense to follow up four times a day or five, for example.”

Lane said FlyHomes can close deals on a house in as little as seven days.

Garg who lived in Seattle prior to enrolling at Kellogg, moved back after graduation to launch the company’s first office. The team has since grown to about 30. Lane expects the Chicago office to grow at a similar clip.

Half of the $4 million total came in the form of a Series A round led by Seattle entrepreneur Mark Vadon and joined by Pritzker Group and Avant co-founder Al Goldstein. The company also raised $2 million in debt financing.

“We wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Chicago entrepreneurship community,” Lane said. “You can tell just by looking at our cap table.”


Image via FlyHomes.

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