Proptech Pioneer: Dongnae Acquires Co-living Platform Dears

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Dongnae, a leading proptech startup based in Seoul, has announced it’s plans to acquire Stevens, the South Korean company behind the co-living business, Dears. While the exact acquisition price remains undisclosed, the deal involves a combination of cash and equity. With previous funding rounds amassing a total of $34 million, Dongnae is set to finalize this acquisition by the end of September.

Investors and Financial Backing

Dongnae’s journey has been backed by prominent investors such as NFX, Daol Investment, Hana Financial, MetaProp, Maple VC, and even WeWork co-founder, Miguel McKelvey.

Dongnae FLEX: A Game Changer

Dongnae’s flagship product, Dongnae FLEX, is revolutionizing the rental market by offering furnished apartments with flexible lease terms. These terms can be as short as four weeks, coupled with reduced rental deposits. With the acquisition of Dears, Dongnae aims to enhance the FLEX service, managing properties with a collective AUM exceeding $400 million and covering 90 apartment complexes in tech hubs like Seoul and Pangyo.

Expanding Horizons with Dears

The integration of Dears into Dongnae’s portfolio will not only boost its presence in Pangyo, with over 520 studio flat units but will also see the co-management of the Dears Myeongdong building in Seoul. This collaboration will involve managing commercial spaces and offering both short and long-term stays, further solidifying Dongnae’s position in the market.

A Vision for the Future

This acquisition marks Dongnae’s first, but certainly not the last. The current leadership team at Stevens will merge with Dongnae, fueling expansion and building on their existing momentum. Co-founder Matthew Shampine shared that they are actively in talks with landlords and developers to open more buildings under the Dongnae banner.

Addressing South Korea’s Unique Rental System

Founded by former WeWork executives, Matthew Shampine and Insong Kim, in 2020, Dongnae’s mission was to digitize South Korea’s fragmented real estate market. The country’s unique Jeonse system allows tenants to rent homes by paying a massive upfront deposit, eliminating monthly fees. Dongnae’s flexible, short-term rental options aim to challenge and provide an alternative to this system.

Innovation and Customer Experience

Since its Series A funding in March 2022, Dongnae has been on a relentless pursuit of growth. They’ve heavily invested in enhancing customer experience, digitizing the entire leasing process, and introducing their AI-powered digital real estate consultant, Suzie. This innovation is a testament to Dongnae’s commitment to reshaping the residential rental market, not just in Korea but globally.

In conclusion, Dongnae’s acquisition of Dears is a significant step forward in its journey to redefine the rental landscape in South Korea. With a focus on customer-centric solutions and innovative offerings, Dongnae is poised to lead the proptech revolution in the region.

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