In our latest Spotlight interview, we spoke with John McAuley the CEO of Veya. Veya offers an innovative solution for the residential real estate industry that helps streamline property sales through smart title deed data analysis. It was developed by estate agents, for estate agents as it was discovered title deeds can often provide a valuable source of information which helps uncover potential risks in a transaction.
John shares the history and success of Veya and how they managed to push onwards despite being a new business just prior to the beginning of Covid. John also explains how Veya speeds up sales completion, why they have partnered with legal fintech company ThirdFort and gives his views on the future evolution of property data technology.
Q: Veya started just before the pandemic, how has the company evolved in the last 4 years with senior leaders such as yourself coming on board?
A: Veya’s original idea was based on the experiences of our founder and Chief Product Officer, Jason Howarth, during his time as an Estate Agent. He identified potential efficiencies in the property transaction process based on bringing some of the issues in the title register to the front of the transaction, and secured pre-seed funding (including an investment from myself) to develop an MVP of the Agent Veya product, which is aimed at Estate Agents. The pandemic was actually not a big hinderance to Jason, as it gave him the time to develop our proprietary analysis technology, and with the help of some Agents from his network, it allowed him to prove the model in the market. With the support of myself and others, we secured additional seed funding from several Angel investors from my network, allowing us to not only secure a strong management team, but also build experienced teams in software development, sales and marketing, and securing additional conveyancing support. This has enabled us to get Veya to a mass market audience and the bandwidth to create a wider reach for our application in our future product roadmap.
Q: Despite the way tech has evolved, sales transactions have increased in time to an average of 12 weeks, how do Veya products help to speed up sales completions?
A: Our Estate Agency product, Agent Veya, gives a ‘snapshot’ of the title register, translated into easy-to-understand terminology. Coupled with our scoring algorithm, this helps Agents to understand potential issues that may slow down the transaction, identifying them right at the start of the process so that they can start to gather information to get them ready for completion. Our current customers are also using Veya effectively to win instructions, as the additional information it can provide is giving them the edge over competitors on valuations, showing that they understand their property and can bring their sale to a conclusion in the quickest possible time.
Q: How do you help estate agents go beyond their typical valuation reports?
Veya gives Estate Agents specific additional information gathered from the unique title register relating to each property, highlighting this in an easy-to-digest format. Of course, Agents will generally want to secure a property regardless of any issues that are raised, but Veya helps to give them an idea of how complex the property will be to complete once a transaction has been agreed. Some of our current customers use this information to negotiate fees with vendors – for example, a more complex property can help the Agent justifiably command a higher fee, and the confidence the Agent can display based on their additional knowledge gained from Veya gives the customer reassurance that they can help solve any issues to get their sale over-the-line by gathering information at a much earlier stage.
Q: What has led to your decision to partner with legal fintech Thirdfort, and how will this decision help with your business objectives and bring value to your customers?
A: Thirdfort was a natural partner for Veya as their ID&V platform makes ours even more efficient for clients, enabling them to cross-reference identities against the title deed as well as satisfying their AML obligations through one interface. We’re both innovative companies with a focus on the customer journey, and a combined technical solution created with our partnership will give confidence in compliance, as well as the knowledge they’re dealing with genuine buyers and sellers.
Q: How do you see property data evolving in the next 5 years, and how can industry better collaborate to drive digital transformation in the sales transaction process?
A: There’s many different suppliers of PropTech in the market, all with a slightly different angle to help Agents. Of course, Veya is a very strong standalone tool, but as illustrated with our Thirdfort partnership, we’re also keen to partner with other suppliers in a similar space to help offer Agents our tool via other platforms. Veya has an OpenAPI in place already, and some of our customers are using this to integrate directly into their CRMs, for example. Additionally, we’re very active in numerous industry groups who are looking for better interaction to improve the customer (Buyer/Seller) journey, and we’re keen to bring Agents and Conveyancers closer together with our tool. In fact, some of our recent customers are based in the Conveyancing rather than Agency sector, so exchanging information between those parties is definitely on our roadmap – the industry’s heading that way, and Veya can be part of the solution, especially as the data that we gather is from a trusted source (the HM Land Registry).
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