canoe, a South Korean start-up that helps renters find apartments to rent to premium apartments, has raised $16.4 million (20 billion won) in equity and $4.1 million (5 billion won) in debt. The Series A funding raises the total amount of funds raised to approximately $34 million (40 billion KRW).
Investors include NFX, Daol Investment, Hana-Magna, Hana Financial, MetaProp, Fursys, Han River Partners, Flybridge and Maple. WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey has also been involved in equity financing.
Matthew Champin, former WeWork executive who was previously a managing director at WeWork Asia and Inseong Kim founded Dongnae in 2020.
Co-founder and CEO Dongne Champin told gaming-updates that after leaving WeWork, he wanted to do something worthwhile. Champing saw that residential property in South Korea was in high demand, he said, but also knew that he was not knowledgeable enough, especially about local properties. Matthews spent the next weeks arranging meetings to speak with industry representatives in local housing, construction and startup spaces.
“Real estate has been my life for the last ten years, so I have always thought about it, and prior to moving to Asia, I worked with Adam on the original plan for WeLive, which sparked interest in residential real estate at the time,” Champagne told gaming-updates. said. “Looking back at my experience of looking at apartments in New York and then remodeling them in Korea, I started collecting what would eventually become my next business.
Donnae says his first mission is to tackle South Korea’s unique rental housing system called Genes. This lease allows tenants to rent an apartment in Seoul for two years without (or less) monthly payments by making a large one-time deposit of an average of $600,000 (700 million South Korean won).
Dongne Flex offers generally first class rental apartments with an average rental deposit of around 98%. Champaign said the company is working with landlords to offer tenants premium apartments with low down payments and fixed monthly rents.
In addition, Dongne Plus allows tenants to access home services ranging from equipment and furniture rentals to internet/cable access and regular maintenance. To provide a fully online experience, it offers virtual 3D tours of its Matterport-operated units, and tenants can sign leases via electronic contracts.
“We are excited to make luxury homes available to renters in Korea. Nearly all rental properties have high payouts, with less than one percent of apartments having a down payment of less than $16,000,” Champin said in a statement. “In addition, Dongne Flex is also a valuable solution for landlords and real estate agents as it allows both of them to increase their income potential in their apartments.”
Dongne claims to currently operate over 60 prime residential complexes in Seoul and Punkyo in South Korea’s Silicon Valley.
Two months after the seed refresh round was announced in May 2021, the startup changed companies. “Almost everything has changed since we started the business at the end of July 2021,” Champin said.
All apartments listed on the website are owned by Dongne, which means that the company no longer has an external advertising platform. The team size has doubled and amounted to about 40 people. Dongne now has more than 80 official local brokerage partners, which the company refers to as Dongne Premium Partners, Champigne said.
“Dongne is partnering with local brokers and other proptech platforms as our offering is very close to a fintech platform that Helps clients access premium managed apartments across the city with a very low down payment,” Champin said.
Over 80% of users are local Koreans; Champin says most of them are young professionals working in the city. As Korea continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions, Dongne is seeing a steady rise in overseas customers, he said.
Champagne said the offer is ideal for foreign businessmen and diplomats given low housing deposits and the difficulty of moving large amounts of currency across borders. In addition, the Resident Management Service is available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese, which is attractive to foreigners visiting Korea.
With Series A earnings, the company plans to accelerate geographic expansion in the Seoul metropolitan area, strengthen relationships with local brokers, and invest in technology and data to enable users to create their own tools. This year, Dongne will release iOS and Android apps, as well as a home service market.