Real estate is the world’s largest asset class valued at over $238 trillion. Yet recording and transacting real estate has been the same process for 150 years. The due diligence process is a significant bottleneck in real estate transactions, with 40 per cent of buyers and sellers experiencing delays due to the process and costing up to one per cent of overall transaction fees. The challenge of due diligence is compounded in the commercial real estate arena by complex, high value assets and portfolio deals. In the UK alone, due diligence for property transactions costs £4bn annually.
Launched in 2018, Orbital Witness aims to modernise and accelerate the legal due diligence process with a platform to access and organise property information from HM Land Registry and local authorities, facilitate quick document review and flag risks automatically to lawyers and underwriters.
The news is just in that the UK-based startup Orbital Witness has closed a £3.3 million (€3.65 million) seed funding round led by UK’s one of most profilic investors LocalGlobe and Outward VC with participation from previous investors, including Seedcamp and JLL Spark. This investment round brings Orbital Witness’s total funding to £4.5 million (almost €5 million).
Automate legal risk assessments
Four of the five Magic Circle law firms, in-house legal teams from M&S and TfL, title insurance companies and more use Orbital Witness as a legal risk assessment platform for commercial property transactions, reducing time and costs, while bringing efficiencies and new insights to the process.
Will Pearce, Co-founder and COO at Orbital Witness, explained: “We’ve built a system for clients to access documents from numerous important sources and provide an easy way to provide risk assessment and insights quickly. Now, we’re using that expertise and technology to reimagine property and land risk for today, to make transacting real estate less time-consuming, arduous and inefficient.”
With its new investment, Orbital Witness is creating a universal risk rating for property and land similar to a credit check to provide a high-level view of property risk to all parties. Using machine learning technology and reinforcement learning techniques, Orbital Witness has developed a sophisticated understanding of real estate and property risk that it is now applying across commercial real estate properties in the UK.
Edmond Boulle, Co-founder and CEO at Orbital Witness, added: “Orbital Witness imagines a world where real estate and property issues are no longer hidden behind mounds of deeds and documents. Our goal is to simplify the complexities of the current process and bring greater transparency to the world’s largest asset class. With this new funding, we’re able to accelerate towards our vision of a universal risk rating, similar to a credit check, that provides an early warning system for property professionals.”
Hiring in 2020
Based in London, Orbital Witness was founded by Edmond Boulle and Will Pearce in 2017, who met while working as legal and business strategy advisors at a startup incubator. Today, Orbital Witness employs fifteen people based in London. Orbital Witness is now recruiting and hiring ambitious people for its team for its next stage of growth. The company aims to double the team in the next year across product, technology, data science, customer success and marketing to continue its growth and establish new product categories.
Remus Brett, Partner at LocalGlobe, commented: “The impact Orbital Witness has had on the property industry in just two years is hugely impressive. Their approach has the potential to transform the way real estate has been valued and transacted for over 150 years.”
Devin Kohli, Co-head at Outward VC, commented: “The Orbital Witness team brings fresh thinking and new ambition to the property risk sector that impressed us from the start. Especially now, as many distressed companies face refinancing and restructuring issues, Orbital Witness has proven how it can flag important legal property risks quickly across complex real estate portfolios and assets.”
Talking about investors, LocalGlobe is a London-based venture capital firm focused on seed investments, primarily in the UK. Backing ambitious founders since 1999 including Transferwise, Zoopla, Improbable, Citymapper, Algolia and Robinhood.
On the other hand, Outward VC invests in early stage fintech companies that focus on large global market opportunities. Backed by Investec Bank, NIBC and other international investors, Outward VC’s investments include fast growing UK companies such as Bud, Curve, Monese and PrimaryBid.
Main image credit: Orbital Witness