Elevator Pitch: Next Place

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Dan Tarasenko from real estate search site Next Place.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Nextplace.com.au helps people search for real estate with smarter tools customised to their own unique circumstances. We are the only vertical search engine of its kind and the only real estate website with a heavy focus on keyword search with our search engine interface and geo-spatial search with "Draw-My-Search".

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

To gain any ground in this space you must offer visitors listings. Positioning ourselves as a true vertical search engine meant we could solve the listing problem with smart crawling technology that enables us to index more than 300,000 listings from agent websites each week. Busy agents don't have to lift a finger or pay a cent to be on our site. Our technology has proven itself after a year, and with our firm position in the number three spot in terms of listings, we have been able to present this to investors who were very receptive to our model and disruptive plans in this space. We are in the final stages of a successful investment round and will be rolling out some unique value added products and services over the next six months.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Getting airtime in this space. Real estate is a quagmire of competing interests and egos, many media organisations like have ownership of competing portals making it difficult to tell the world about us. We have chosen to focus however on building our tech offering and that has paid off for us in terms of organic growth.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

I am asked that often and that's a surprisingly easy question to answer. The competitors in our space have not kept pace with technology and features. Our unique interface and tools allows a visitor to search in ways not available on our competing websites. Real estate agents have been increasingly gouged by the portals via expensive subscriptions and we chose to position ourselves as a vertical search engine with no listing or subscription fees for agents who are crying out for relief in this space. As a result we have the fastest site in this space and our listing database in both Australia and New Zealand gone from nowhere to the number three spot inside one year.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Snagit. The uses for this little screen capture program are endless. It makes clear communication with people who can't see what you are seeing, much easier. Not a day goes by where I or my team don't use it.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

You can be friends with people you have done business with, but you can't do business with your friends.

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