A startup offering a Website and app that predicts the price of real estate property sales has walked away with a $40,000 cash prize and a six-month placement on the BlueChilli accelerator programme as the winner of Westpac's inaugural Innovation Challenge.
The Challenge launched in September, giving Australian start-ups the opportunity to develop new ideas to help the bank’s business customers. A shortlist of five participants from over 100 applicants were chosen to showcase their ideas to a panel of judges.
Similar to American counterparts Zillow and Trulia, the winning applicant, realAs, provides accurate predictions of property sale prices alongside a forum where buyers can exchange information about individual homes. RealAs has been operating since August this year and CEO Josh Rowe says already almost two-thirds of its predictions are within five per cent of the final sale price, and 90% are within 10% of the final sale price.
"This is exactly the kind of leading edge, future-ready idea we were looking for," says Westpac head of digital business banking, Kalpana Gee. "It has the potential to completely change the way our commercial real estate customers do business."
The inaugural Challenge round followed the successful opening of Westpac’s purpose-built innovation centre - the hive - in early September. The site has cloud-based development capabilities, a data sand-box, a wireless-enabled demilitarised zone environment that will provide staff and partners with the technology access and tools they need, but that is isolated from the Westpac corporate network, and prototyping tools such as 3D printer.
Commercial real estate was selected as the first focus area for the Challenge. Round two will kick off in 2015 and will aim for applicants that can solve problems for other Westpac business customers from various industries.
"We need to understand our customers’ businesses in order to continue improving the way we service them," says Westpac's Gee. "By investing in the start-ups shaping and influencing our customers’ industries we are able to be there every step of the way as our customers are disrupted in this rapidly changing, digital economy."