Canadian Underwriter

Aviva Canada invests $2.5 million in Canadian real estate marketplace & brokerage Casalova

April 5, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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Aviva Canada has announced an equity partnership with real estate marketplace and brokerage Casalova.

Aviva Canada announced the partnership in a press release on Wednesday, noting that the $2.5 million investment is being made by Aviva Ventures, Aviva plc’s venture capital arm, who have committed to investing $170 million globally over the next five years in “start-up businesses that will continue to disrupt and transform the insurance industry.”

The insurer suggested that the partnership will aid in the growth of Casalova’s “unique real estate marketplace offering.”

“A digital first strategy – which is an Aviva mandate globally – means more than a ‘state of the art’ website,” said Ben Isotta-Riches, chief information officer at Aviva Canada, in the release. “A true digital focus means looking beyond our industry and partnering with start-ups offering new and creative experiences that add value for our customers and theirs.”

Casalova is an online end-to-end real estate marketplace streamlining the buying and renting process, allowing users to start their home search, schedule viewings, make offers online, and process payments directly through the platform, Aviva Canada explained in the release. Launched in May 2015, Casalova now operates in 140 cities with more than 120,000 exclusive and on-market listings across Canada.

Aviva Canada also noted that the investment is a first outside of the United Kingdom and the first in Canada from Aviva Ventures, who kicked off their search for high-potential Canadian digital start-ups with Aviva Pitch Day last October. “With a keen interest in disrupting the way customer needs are addressed, Aviva heard from a short-listed group of 10 start-ups vying for their share in a potential $10 million (CDN) investment,” the release said.

Related: Aviva Canada launches Pitch Day event; Aviva Ventures investing $180 million over five years in disruptive, high potential digital startups

Ben Luckett, managing director of Aviva Ventures, calls the first investment in the Canadian marketplace “momumental. We’re excited to be working with Casalova and to learn from each other to help grow, enhance and continue to disrupt the marketplace. We believe Casalova is making a huge difference in the real estate market at a time where the industry desperately needs it.”

Casalova recently announced that users now have the option to purchase pre-construction homes online, a “first-in-Canada” development, the release said. Casalova is “using this opportunity to level the playing field for buyers, allowing only one unit to be purchased at a time and giving all buyers equal access.”

Ray Taaeb, CEO and cofounder of Casalova, said that the company is “very excited to be working with Aviva Ventures. Their strategic investment will help us expand and scale our technology to reach millions of Canadians looking to buy, sell or rent their homes, while keeping them protected along the way. This is a major step forward for the real estate industry to provide Canadians with innovative solutions to archaic problems.”

Aviva Ventures provides early stage investment to back entrepreneurs and, over time, “expects to have a portfolio of small investments in a number of companies that have significant potential.” Aviva Ventures is part of Aviva’s digital strategy and, through the investments made, will assist Aviva in identifying new opportunities, the development of innovative business models and new digital insurance services and products, which make insurance simpler for customers, the insurer concluded.

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