When Looking for an Investor, The Key is Symbiosis

June 4, 2015

2:00 pm

This celebration of the Chicago ecosystem is brought to you by @properties, the leading Chicago real estate brokerage serving both the city of Chicago and North Shore through dynamic marketing and innovation.

At some point during your startup’s life, you’ll reach a point when a decision must be made on whether to raise funding; sometimes, in order to grow past a certain point, it becomes a necessity to seek out investors to help finance those efforts. While startups nowadays have many options when it comes to getting outside investment, pinpointing the right investors for your company is actually a much more arduous undertaking. When going out to seek investors, the Chicago, IL-based TurboAppeal focused on one primary factors: to find a partner – not just a mere investor – that was committed to helping them scale.

“When we went out and decided to start taking investor money, we didn’t just want to take anyone who would give us [financial] resources…we looked for partners that would help us grow,” said TurboAppeal cofounder and COO John Guidos. “We wanted to create a win-win situation for everyone: [an investor] who not only could help us out but one that we could help out, as well.”

Just last month, TurboAppeal closed a $1.5 million seed round led by @properties – the largest real estate brokerage firm in Illinois. Sure, while having a company like @properties isn’t too much of a stretch for TurboAppeal (considering that the startup is focused on revolutionizing the ways through which consumers deal with property tax appeals), the two have created a symbiotic relationship where they each can benefit from the other’s offerings.

In the past few months since TurboAppeal launched in Chicago, it’s become the fastest growing property tax company in the city. For something that normally isn’t very scalable, the company has managed to do it quickly, expanding into new markets easily – and Guidos said they would never have achieved some of these things had TurboAppeal not worked with @properties as a partner. And part of it has to do with @properties’s brokers finding TurboAppeal useful and actually utilizing their software as a post-transaction touchpoint with homebuyers; oftentimes brokers are stumped when it comes to the discussions around property taxes, and TurboAppeal relieves that major painpoint for @properties’s brokers.

“It’s been incredible working with [@properties]. [Cofounder] Thad Wong, from a leadership standpoint, had made a big push to work with new technologies to provide additional services so that their brokers can have the tools to make them indispensable to their clients and set them apart from brokerages,” said Guidos. “And this [in turn] has exposed us to thousands of potential customers.”

And this same kind of symbiosis is repeated with each of TurboAppeal’s investors, admitted Guidos.  Hyde Park Angels, and Hyde Park Venture Partners (HPVP) have done what they can for their part to reach out on behalf of the company to set up meetings and obtain the resources they need. As advice to other startups, Guidos said:

“Don’t blindly take investor money. You want to find the right people to partner with who will not only benefit you, but someone that you can also benefit.”

TurboAppeal is currently on track to hit their 15 x 24 initiative, where they plan to hit 15 major markets within 24 months. Their Big Data-enabled property tax appeal technology has seen more than 4,000 homeowner customers in Cook County, IL since they went into full-time operations earlier this year.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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