Kylie Davis 00:32 So Michael what we always ask our guests to do is to give us their elevator pitch. So tell us the Movinghub’s elevator pitch.
Michael Dornan: 00:42 Yeah. God, where do I start really? I think Movinghub solves quite a few different problems, Kylie, and if I may perhaps I can give you a little bit of background?
Kylie Davis: 00:52 Sure.
Michael Dornan: 00:53 Movinghub started almost seven years ago by myself, my background prior to that was as a CIO for an energy company. At the same time, I started up a utility connections company. That utility connections company soon became the largest and most successful at that time. Traditionally, utility connections companies had a strategy that saw agents send their customer details to them and for them to call back into their own brand. Not the agent’s brand. I always felt this created a disconnect for the customer, who often asked, “Who are you? Who gave you my details?” The element of trust was lost and had to be regained.
So our USP from day one was to focus on the agent’s brand, not our own. So we white label out of the box and 99% of the 6000 companies that use our technology white label. They want to extend their brand value to the customer, adding value to their brand, not just in a new revenue stream but service-based value becoming more than a single transaction, seeking referrals and repeat business from those customers. They also felt that there was no real transparency into the customer experience, such as what services were sold, what emails and SMSes, or other communications that happened, and what was being said to the customer, how the customer was being spoken to, what the experience needs to look like for the partner or the agency we were working with.
Not doing it the same for every agency, basically, every agency could create their own experience and we would be part of that, but also offering more than just electricity and gas to a customers. Pre and post services, not just the basics. We also want to make sure we don’t harm the customer and lastly, most importantly, what commissions the agency was earning from us and where that process was up to, where that payment process was up to.
Kylie Davis: 02:43 Right. So, Movinghub’s value proposition is, there’s a lot of… there are quite a few connection companies out there, but what you guys offer is a white-label experience where the agency can brand as many or as few services around moving that they want to put together and deliver that under their own brand?
Michael Dornan: 03:08 That’s right. So, we create technology and platforms and apps that allow an agency, let’s say it’s… it could be a single office, a single agency, or it could be an agency with 100 offices or 1000 offices. We allow them to create an experience where we would talk under that office’s brand and we would also be able to understand where the customer’s details came from.
So, say it was ABC Real Estate in Bondi and the customer’s referred through to us by James, we would be able to talk to the customer, say, “Your property manager James gave us your details, we are part of the connections team for ABC Real Estate, we’re here to help you get moved into your home.” So it’s a real warm extension to the original conversation that happened with the agency and the person they were dealing with.
Kylie Davis: 04:11 And I love this, too, because it’s actually, everyone hates moving. It’s one of the most terrible things you can do in your lifetime. I did it 20 years ago and I’m still scarred. And the idea of having to move every year or so if you’re in a rented place sort of fills me with horror. But how big’s the market opportunity, Michael? Why should agents be helping people move each year?
Michael Dornan: 04:38 Well, I think real estate’s a tough game, Kylie, with lots of competition and we find that agents and principals want to help their customers. Most genuinely care that the customer gets a good experience. We care about helping with that. Value-added extras are critical to ensuring the customer gets an end to an experience. From what the real estate agent does right through to getting them settled into their home.
I think everyone wants to be able to continue the relationship with their customers, especially if there’s repeat business, and I think that’s important. Often, I know where I live, we still see the property manager that helps us. She sold houses to the left and to the right of us and we have a relationship. And if we sold, we would give her a call.
I think being able to build up that relationship with things like value-added services that remove the pain, and I get what you’re saying when you’re talking about painful moves, and people always do it the hard way. Too often that I avoided the removals and tried to do it myself and every time I say I’m never doing that again, but I always do. So yeah.
Kylie Davis: 05:52 So how many people are moving in Australia every year? I mean there’s usually round about 400,000 or so property sales, but there would be an awful… Well, 31% of the market’s renting as well. So do you know what the volumes are around this in Australia each year?
Michael Dornan: 06:11 Yeah, I think approximately 2.5 million people moved to a different address last year. And that was up a couple of hundred thousand from the previous years. So it’s a growing trend and just say, with rentals, more people are renting than ever. They do move a lot more frequently. So it is a growing trend but those numbers are quite big.
Kylie Davis: 06:36 Yeah. And what’s the average spend of someone moving? And if you’re moving because you bought something versus moving because you’re renting something, is there a big difference there, do you know?
Michael Dornan: 06:51 I think it really depends on the mover’s existing circumstances. And their age. I think the data suggests between 1-2k is pretty normal. Over 50% of movers are aged between 23 and 39, so you would expect that they’ve accumulated lots of bits of furniture, so removals is probably going to be the biggest expense, if they don’t try to do it themselves, followed by other items such as insurance on your car, which may have increased due to the change in postcode, et cetera.
Some recent research actually that I was reading suggested Aussie home buyers spend up to 863 million per year on moving costs they did not account for, and those are things such as packing, removals, cleaning and connecting utilities being the main culprits. But one interesting thing that I was reading recently is that… and what we’ve found, is that in the first six months of moving into a new home, and I’ve personally found this, the average homeowners will spend more in those first six months than they will in the following three years. So it’s really about getting moved in, getting established and getting comfortable, and those first six months are critical and the move process is all part of that.
Kylie Davis: 08:11 Yeah. And there’s always just more things that you’ve forgotten about that you’re going to need to put your hand in your pocket for, aren’t there? So just to go through systematically for me, the types of services that can be included inside Movinghub include actually moving and packing?
Kylie Davis: 10:26 You mentioned that there were 26 services that you are able to… that agents are able to onboard.
Michael Dornan: 10:40 Yeah. So we really focused on making sure that we could service the entire move, not just your electricity, gas, and broadband, the ones that pay the higher commissions. We wanted to make sure that we were helping people move, not just switching providers, but helping people actually move into their home and for me, that was more than just those core services, it was about what do you need moving in and what, perhaps, do you need when you’ve moved in?
So we’ve got 26 different service categories, and they would be from as we mentioned, electricity, gas, broadband, right the way through to white goods, or homewares. But also plumbers and electricians and gardeners. And one thing that we do that is very unique to what anybody else does, is we allow agencies to onboard their own providers. So they may have a relationship with a local florist or a local plumber, they can actually onboard them to our platform and offer referrals through those, in our platform, and track those and that’s completely independent of what we do and a value add that our platform offers.
Kylie Davis: 11:46 Fantastic. So what’s the opportunity for a typical agency in terms of revenue that they could earn through your platform?
Michael Dornan: 11:53 It ranges between $150 per customer, to $300 per customer, and that really depends on the model they use with us. I’ll briefly touch on those. We offer two main models, with a third coming up in the not-too-distant future, but those two main models are white-label or hybrid. The white label is typically where the customer uses our entire platform and all our services, but it leverages our expert team of [moveologists 00:12:25]. So we call our team moveologists, they’re not salespeople, they’re not customer service people, they’re specialists in helping people with multi-service get moved into their home and helping people get the right deals.
We offer complete choice, so we don’t force anyone to take specific providers, but then the hybrid model is where our team are not used and the customer may transact online, so we don’t have that overhead of paying someone to phone someone, and that’s a real option where someone can use our technology, build it into their existing journey or experience or CRM, and they literally just leverage the providers in our marketplace and don’t need to speak to any of our team to have the customer move. So the amount of money ranges based on the solution, essentially.
Kylie Davis: 13:13 Right. And so why do you think agents should be looking at new revenue opportunities, what… isn’t it taking your eyes off the main game of selling or property management?
Michael Dornan: 13:29 Yeah, I don’t think so, Kylie. Mainly, one, every little bit helps, and I think the idea is that they do very little when they work with us. We integrate into most platforms and we have lots of different solutions to minimise the amount of work that they have to do, including apps that allow them to take a photograph of the tenancy application, and that’s it, that’s all they do. We do the rest.
So really what we aim to do, is actually keep their eyes on their main game, as you said, rather than have them take their eyes off it, by minimising what they do with us and then maximising the experience they can give to their customers.
Kylie Davis: 14:14 Fantastic. And so are you integrated with CRMs or how does it work from an agency point of view or are you a specialised app that they need to download?
Michael Dornan: 14:27 Yeah, well every which way basically. We’ve got some of the largest real estate groups in Australia using our technology and then we’ve got individual one-man bands, right the way through to small offices. We have solutions that can be used by everyone in a variety of different ways, whatever suits their needs. We’ve got widgets that can be dropped on to their website. Typically, we’re integrating with almost all of the CRMs in Australia. Typically we find that they are using an existing CRM, they don’t want to go and use another system, and ideally, by using our technology integrated with that CRM, they can streamline their internal processes.
Kylie Davis: 15:11 Fantastic. So, why do you think moving is so painful? Have you got… after all of the moves that you’ve personally done, Michael, and all this experience you’ve got in the industry, why does it feel so… why does it always feel such constant upheaval?
Michael Dornan: 15:29 Yeah. I’m in the UK at the moment, and I was reading an article recently that said Britons find moving home more stressful than having a baby, getting divorced, starting a new job, or getting married, which is quite astonishing, but that’s-
Kylie Davis: 15:29 They’re all the big things, aren’t they?
Michael Dornan: 15:49 They are, yeah. But then there’s other data as well that says 53% of Australians have highlighted that moving home is extremely stressful compared to what they expected. So we remove six to eight hours of work in a 15-30 minute phone call, or even less, a five-minute journey online if people are comfortable doing it all online.
It is a painful process and I think, the stress of you buying a house, the stress of okay, well, you’ve got to find a house, you’ve got to potentially go to auction, that all builds. And then when you finally get to moving day it’s kind of, okay, I’ve got to get everything moved in and now-
Kylie Davis: 15:49 Clean.
Michael Dornan: 16:30 Clean and everything needs to be switched on when I move in and I’ve got to get room service. It’s just a lot of things to do and everyone wants it to go really smoothly, and I think a chunk of it is you don’t want to be calling round providers, and trying to get your energy switched, and they’re all trying to switch you to different products, and it’s extremely confusing as well, and certainly we’re finding in Australia that the government is stepping in and trying to simplify the energy confusion around the products that are offered and the different value that is given in those products. So we help with that process, so it’s a non-aggressive simple conversation where we are attempting to try and help remove some of that stress.
Kylie Davis: 17:20 Fantastic. And do you have anyone who can strap together babies’ cots, because that was the bit that broke me when we moved.
Michael Dornan: 17:30 I’m sure we could organise something, I’m sure we could.
Kylie Davis: 17:34 That was the last thing to come out of the truck, which of course should have been the first thing to come out the truck.
Michael Dornan: 17:34 Absolutely.
Kylie Davis: 17:41 So you’re based in the UK at the moment, why is that? What’s Movinghub’s growth trajectory been?
Michael Dornan: 18:36 Yeah. So we’re in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and now the UK, and we’ve been in Australia and New Zealand for six or seven years and the US for about just over two years. We entered the UK just over a year ago and what we found is the UK is quite an interesting market. They’re arguably more evolved than Australia in real estate and technology. We found what we offer, the way we offer it outperformed what anybody else was doing here. They’re all behaving like the traditional utility companies in Australia about 10 years ago and we saw an opportunity to bring our PropTech to the UK and speed up the evolution of the utility connections industry.
So I’m here with the team here, expanding our operations, integrating with platforms and it’s going really well. I’m not Australian, although… Well, I am, I’ve been in Australia for 15 years, I’m married to an Australian, and Australia’s my home, but I’ve been able to come home here as well and see some family but also help with our expansion.
Kylie Davis: 19:42 Fantastic. So you’re in the US and the UK now, so how big is the combined market size of all of those markets for you guys? Hello? Sorry, Michael, I’m not getting you at all.
Michael Dornan: 20:23 Those four markets?
Kylie Davis: 20:23 Yeah. And New Zealand too, I’m assuming.
Michael Dornan: 21:24 Yeah, so we’re in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, and those markets are huge for us and we’re involved in more moves than anyone would actually understand or expect, typically because we integrate with platforms. We’re really focused on empowering other brands, not becoming the brand at the face. And by doing that, behind the scenes we have an awful lot of people or companies leveraging our technology. We’ve got tier-one energy companies using our technology, we’ve got as I say the largest real estate groups across Australia and New Zealand.
They are really focused on using our tech to enhance their customer experience, and that’s the opportunity for us and as we start to expand further into the US and the UK, using the knowledge that we’ve learnt in Australia and New Zealand on how to empower other brands is what stands us aside because no one’s really tried to be the platform and the background, everyone typically in this industry has tried to be the brand at the forefront.
Kylie Davis: 22:40 Yeah. But you’re generally being B2B2C.
Michael Dornan: 22:45 That’s correct. I could go back seven years ago and sort of jot down the seven core items that we focused on, and I’ve mentioned them today. It’s about fair commissions, transparency, empowering existing brands, servicing the entire customer move, all those things that we said we were going to do seven years ago we’ve stuck to, and it’s really resonated with the companies that use our technology.
Kylie Davis: 23:11 Fantastic. And so, have you done this all on your own through bootstrapping or have you had investors or what’s that looked like?
Michael Dornan: 23:20 Yeah, no, we bootstrapped from the early days, and we were very careful with what we did. Sort of our first two customers were one of the largest companies in Australia and one of the largest companies in New Zealand, and when we sat down with them and explained what we wanted to do with our platform, they jumped on board. So we were very lucky and I think when you’re in a startup environment, an element of luck has to play a part in that. And we were very lucky to get some really key customers that essentially enabled us to then go out and deliver our strategy that we have gone ahead with, really, and now enabled us to go into different countries. If we hadn’t have done that, we would have gone and sought investment, but fortunately, we’ve been lucky not to have to.
Kylie Davis: 24:19 Fantastic. So what does the future hold for Movinghub?
Michael Dornan: 24:26 We’re a technology company with a real focus on empowering our partners to use our technology to deliver a good experience for their customers. We’re continuing to evolve our products to ensure the agents can continue the conversation after they’ve helped people move, but I think the main critical thing is that our marketplace and our recent investment in predictive analytics and artificial intelligence is really interesting. We want to remain focused on generating more business for our partners, through referrals or [inaudible 00:24:53]
Michael Dornan: 25:09 Yeah, so we want to remain focused on generating more business through referrals, or future moves, and see our technology helping them do that. I think I touched on predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, we want to be able to streamline the move process, and we have data, data lakes and information that can help us do that by understanding what the customer would ideally like to get out of their move and being able to present that in a format that streamlines the experience for the customer. So we’re really investing an awful-
Michael Dornan: 26:07 Yeah, so we’ve really invested in our predictive analytics and our artificial intelligence, and that’s because we’ve got huge data lakes of information that we can use to understand the trends and how people are moving and work out better ways to improve the customer experience through that information and streamline the move process.
I think we’re the only company in this space that is investing a lot of effort in really trying to focus on the customer experience, and that’s how we see us continuing to evolve, being at the forefront of this industry.
Kylie Davis: 26:52 Fantastic. So in this brave new world that we’re all heading into, Movinghub is going to be empowering real estate agents to take the pain away of moving, whether that’s into a rental property or into your new forever home. Does that sound right?
Michael Dornan: 27:11 That’s correct, yeah. That’s what we’re here for.
Kylie Davis: 27:14 Will there ever be a day when moving is actually a pleasure?
Michael Dornan: 27:18 I would like to think so. We would like to think that we could get the process so streamlined that it’s down to two or three minutes and all of a sudden everything is connected. And your [crosstalk 00:27:33]
Kylie Davis: 27:34 Oh my lord.
Michael Dornan: 27:36 Yeah.
Kylie Davis: 27:36 Be still my beating heart.
Michael Dornan: 27:39 Yeah. Well, certainly the processes we help with. You know the actual moving day, apart from physically getting to your home and unpacking the boxes, the process of getting all your utilities connected and getting all the things that we help with can be all done in a two to three-minute online transaction so when you turn up, everything’s there at your door, connected, ready to go, and you’ve been informed along the way and you’re literally focused on just unpacking the boxes and settling in.
So obviously there’s a lot of extra things wrapped around the moving experience which will take time, which we can’t help with. The things we help with, there are 26 services. Ideally, a lot of those could be streamlined very quickly, and we’re currently at 15-30 minutes, we’d like to get that down to three to five minutes in the near future.
Kylie Davis: 28:33 Fantastic. So the agent that then turns up at about six o’clock with a pizza and a six-pack of beer will be a complete legend if they’ve helped you organise all of those things and then feeds you at the end of it as well.
Michael Dornan: 28:48 Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And hopefully with the effort that we’ve gone to in the background also pays for those beers that the agent brings to have with the customer.
Kylie Davis: 28:58 Yeah, fantastic. Well, look, Michael, I can’t wait to live in this exciting new world where moving actually becomes a pleasure or at least certainly not as stressful as it is currently. Thank you so much for telling us all about Movinghub, it’s been great having you on the show.
Michael Dornan: 29:16 Yeah, thank you, appreciate it Kylie, and have a great day.
Content marketing strategist, researcher, journalist and presenter specialising in the real estate industry. I'm passionate about proptech, digital disruption and all things property, big data, leadership and entrepreneurial ideas, have an MBA and specialise in social and digital media content creation and automation.