Why We Invested Again: DwellWell
This headline is a stark example of a problem consumers are desperate (crying, in fact!) to solve.
But we didn’t need this recent article to convince us of the need for a solution to the home-buying cluster of a process — we first invested in DwellWell in 2021, and we’re excited to back the company once again as it continues to grow.
DwellWell is a marketplace connecting real estate agents and additional vendors with qualified buyers at the perfect moment, shrinking the time from initial meeting to closing, ultimately simplifying home-buying. DwellWell’s platform educates buyers on the home-buying process, discovers their preferences, and prepares them to buy, all before connecting them with any agents.
Two-sided market businesses have a constant tension between how/when to focus and build out one side of the marketplace without compromising the other. As a previous operator in multi-sided marketplaces, I often envision a double-pan balance scale, with both sides constantly needing to be watched after, as each actual “weight” can change on a dime.
It’s critical to establish rock-solid KPIs, to drive which activities will be implemented for each side of this scale and how those will continually build off one another, in order to reach mass market adoption while having enough supply on both ends.
DwellWell continues to establish proof points for its approach — new user signups have grown 63% MoM, agents are joining by the hundreds to meet these buyers, and partners are clamoring to join their ecosystem. While these user communities grow, DwellWell also continues to reduce its customer acquisition cost (MoM). The marketplace is now available in California, Texas, and Florida as well, expanding its reach in three of the most populous American states.
I don’t need to point out that the housing market continues to take a beating, but we know people still need housing, and people will still need services for those houses. Our approach to investing in DwellWell wasn’t dependent on DwellWell’s 1:1 agent/buyer matches, though the fundamental unit economics of even a sliver of this market are super enticing! Our thesis also looked at future opportunities for embedded services along the DwellWell user journey and post-closing a home purchase.
DwellWell’s core business model is also fundamentally structured to inform its most needed future offerings. Its massive market opportunity for partnerships, and the potential for DwellWell to create numerous customer acquisition wedges along the home-buying value chain, attracted us as investors early on.
Warren Buffett’s oft-quoted line tells us to “be fearful while others are greedy and greedy while others are fearful.” As stewards of “patient capital” at Anthemis, we continue to see opportunities in this space:
- Prices have begun to decline in 98 of 148 significant housing markets. Even when mortgage rates are high and home prices are falling, purchasing a property today could nonetheless increase the likelihood your home’s value will rise as mortgage rates stabilize or decline.
- A slowing market also creates an environment in which more agents must actively seek more qualified leads.
- In this market cycle, prospective homebuyers need a reliable source to guide their home-buying process and provide them with the resources they need to make it happen.
There are many differences between this housing market downturn and those of earlier years:
- Average interest rates were 16.63% in 1981, but unemployment was 10%, as opposed to today’s 3.5 % rate.
- September 11th and the housing market collapse were catalysts for interest rate hikes in 2002 and 2008, respectively.
- More unique financing options are available today.
- More buyers have cash on hand today.
- More unique structures to buying options: $21 billion of VC funding went to Proptech and $3.8 billion went to Construction tech in 2021, and bringing multiple new ways to purchase a home to market.
DwellWell isn’t competing against new buying models; it provides a platform to direct users through them. As new ways of home-buying continue coming to market, DwellWell’s platform could set users on a path towards matching them with the best solution for their needs and the agent who understands those needs.
I’ve tweeted and written about co-founders Matt Canzoneri and Sam Carow, and the distinctive culture they’ve built at DwellWell. In true network-effect fashion, it speaks to their ability to recruit top-tier talent.
We’re thrilled to continue backing DwellWell at Anthemis and Female Innovators Lab Fund. We look forward to further supporting DwellWell’s mission to get more buyers into homes without crying, and we’re excited to participate in its current funding round, alongside Mac VC, as the company enters its next growth phase!