Abodo Adds $4.8M to Bring Apartment-Hunting Website to More Cities

Abodo, a Madison, WI-based startup whose technology helps users find apartments and contact property managers, said on Wednesday that it had raised $4.8 million from investors. The company said it will use the equity financing to add staff and continue its national expansion.

4490 Ventures led the round. Also taking part was American Family Ventures, which like 4490 is based in Madison and had backed Abodo previously. The other participating fund Abodo named in its news release announcing the round was Flyover Capital, of Leawood, KS. Flyover is a first-time investor in Abodo, said Sam Radbil, the startup’s senior communications manager.

“Abodo gives a younger apartment-seeker an experience that is modern and consistent with their mobile lifestyle,” Greg Robinson, managing director of 4490 Ventures, said in a prepared statement. Apartment search is “a sector that has lacked significant innovation for decades,” he added.

The startup has now raised more than $8 million since 2013, Radbil said. He declined to comment on Abodo’s most recent valuation.

Abodo is calling the new round a Series A financing. That’s the same label it used for a $1.25 million round it closed two years ago. Abodo is now calling that a “Series AA round,” according to Wednesday’s news release.

Radbil said the startup plans to expand its engineering, sales, and marketing teams. Abodo’s current headcount is 28, he said.

More than 2 million people have used Abodo since 2012, Radbil said. That’s up more than 10 percent from June, when the user count was just shy of 1.8 million.

The startup now features listings from 32 metropolitan areas on its website, Radbil said. It’s aiming to increase the total to 60 by the end of 2017, he added. Many of these cities are in the Midwest, but states like Florida, Oregon, and Texas are also represented.

Abodo’s business model involves charging apartment complexes to list on its site, though it has also allowed some properties to advertise for free.

Some, but not all, of Abodo’s markets operate in the black. In 2014, Alec Slocum, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told Xconomy that Abodo expected the new cities it moved into to become profitable within two years. Radbil said the company still uses “internal timelines” for achieving profitability, but it seems that two years is no longer the expectation for every new city.

“Abodo strategically enters markets based on a number of influencing factors,” Radbil said. “Since we enter markets at different times, certain markets become profitable before others.”

Two of the most popular services people use to find apartments in the U.S. are Craigslist and Apartments.com. The former is known for its no-frills layout, and for not charging renters or landlords fees in most places. (One exception is New York, where it costs $10 to list a “brokered apartment rental” on Craigslist.)

One feature that distinguishes Abodo from Craigslist is the ability to search using a two-pane view with listings on the left and a map on the right. Users can zoom in on a particular neighborhood and street, and the left-side pane is instantly updated to only show apartments available in that area. Apartments.com also has this feature, though on that website the map is on the left.

Another way Abodo tries to differentiate itself from the competition is by compiling neighborhood guides with information on nearby restaurants and attractions. The startup has an entire team devoted to the guides, Radbil said.

“We want our users to find valuable, practical information in these guides that will help them make the best decision,” he said. “A major goal of ours is to provide renters with the most accurate depiction of what it would be like to live in each neighborhood and/or city.”

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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