99.co launches app, first revenue model

MARKING the second anniversary of property startup 99.co, co-founder and chief Darius Cheung on Thursday launched 99PRO, a “fast, simple, intuitive” app for real estate agents and homeseekers.

Among the features it offers are an interactive map search with geolocation capabilities, unlimited floor plan access across all condominiums and HDB (Housing and Development Board) units, as well as historical transaction data for HDB and condos.

The app also provides the latest information on new launch properties, a calendar to schedule meetings on the go, and a real-time chat function for agents to talk to homeseekers and other agents.

99PRO is available as a subscription plan at S$388 per annum. 99BUSINESS – costing S$388 a year – is a subscription plan that allows agents to upload up to 100 listings on 99.co. 99PREMIUM – priced at S$728 per annum – is a combination of both packages.

Mr Cheung told The Business Times: “This is our first revenue model. Our original thought was of a lead-generation model, but it’d be hard to evaluate the quality of leads, and it’d involve a lot of justification between the agents and us.”

Ultimately, agents prefer predictable costs, Mr Cheung said. He added that 99PRO speaks to 99.co’s commitment to partner and empower – through technology solutions – stakeholders such as agents, and not disrupt the ecosystem.

“Real estate agents who do not embrace cutting-edge technology will be displaced by agents who retain relevancy and competitiveness by arming themselves with the latest digital tools,” he said.

The serial entrepreneur, who founded 99.co (his third venture) in 2014, was joined at the 99PRO launch by Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook and a key investor of the startup.

Of his work with 99.co, Mr Saverin said: “It’s not (just) about putting money. I’m on the board, and now mostly serve as a mentor and sounding board (to Darius); the CEO is a lonely position.”

Asked if he believes the property search market is a winner-takes-all, the Internet entrepreneur said: “As long as you are unique, have differentiated technology, and can create new niches in the market, it’s not.”

Other players that make up the oligopolistic market here are PropertyGuru, STProperty and SRX. 99.co reportedly has over 140,000 listings and 2,000 property agents who use the site exclusively.

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