Pioneering York business makes homes more Viz-ible

22 Mar 2013 @ 11.58 am
| Business
From left: Finance Yorkshire investment manager Jonathan Craig, Jeremy Ward and Kevin Hollinrake from Vizzihome. Photograph: Finance Yorkshire

A ground-breaking business set up by two former school friends living thousands of miles apart has received backing from Finance Yorkshire.

Four years ago Kevin Hollinrake, living in York, and Jeremy Ward, resident of Brisbane, Australia, launched property market intelligence company, Vizzihome.

A large online database that collects information about properties that are being sold or let, Vizzihome now has more than 200 million records. The company collates this data into market research and sells it to customers including estate agents, insurance firms and utility companies.

The business doubled in size year on year and became such a success Jeremy moved back to his native York 18 months ago. Now Vizzihome has received a £100,000 business loan from Finance Yorkshire to help assist with its growth, develop its software and employ more staff.

Kevin and Jeremy, now 49, met when they attended Easingwold School. Their career paths took different turns as Kevin became an estate agent, setting up Hunters Estate Agents and Jeremy went into IT and moved to Australia.

Kevin said the pair identified a gap in the property sector for strong market intelligence. “We recognised estate agents needed information about their share of local housing transactions and it wasn’t easily available or up-to-date.

“The traditional way to gather this information was for people to walk down a street, counting and recording for sale and to let boards, but we developed a way to collect this information in an efficient way on a national scale and our information is gathered in real-time.”

The power of technology allowed Kevin and Jeremy to communicate via Skype and run the Anglo-Australian business while Jeremy was living in Brisbane.

Kevin emphasises that Vizzihome deals in non-personal data. “We don’t record information on who lives there but simply that someone is moving home. It’s not about individuals, it’s about the property.”

We now have 200 major clients nationwide and we have expanded our data sales to businesses in other sectors like furnishings and insurance

Jeremy said: “The business has been very successful because there is nobody else doing this. We invented our own unique system. It’s not just about getting the data it’s about how to make sense of it.

“We now have 200 major clients nationwide and we have expanded our data sales to businesses in other sectors like furnishings and insurance. We can also tell our customers what their existing customers are doing and that they are on the move.”

Finance Yorkshire investment manager Jonathan Craig said: “Vizzihome is a unique business that is growing very quickly – around 50 per cent per annum.

“We were happy to help a business that is reaching a national customer market and the money will help towards developing software that helps processes their 200 million lines of data at the touch of a button.”

Kevin said: “Finance Yorkshire was very helpful in a time when funding for businesses is hard, even if like us you are a profitable business. The team ask a lot of questions obviously, but the process is not laborious.

“The funding has enabled us to recruit two extra people which will give us broader access to sales. The money will also help to develop our software so it’s even easier to target the right people.”

Finance Yorkshire is staging an event looking at how businesses can gain investments for growth at The Royal Hotel in York on March 27 at 8am.

Officials from Finance Yorkshire will be in attendance along with representatives from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

For further details and to register a place at the free event visit the Finance Yorkshire website or ring 0845 649 0000.

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2 million to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.