By Chong Jinn Xiung | Sep 14, 2017
- Aims to change the property game with virtual show units accessed on mobile devices
- Has plans to expand to Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia
THE property sector is like any brick-and-mortar business. In their case, players literally have their proverbial hands in brick and mortar as many players have kept to the same methods of doing business for a long time.
Usually, a property developer needs to spend a lot of resources on marketing and promoting new properties, building small yet expensive plastic scale models and full-size show units to communicate what is available to potential buyers.
The combination of both property and technology has largely been untapped but that may soon change thanks to new startups like woobaVR, a play on the Malay word ‘ubah’ merged with virtual reality (VR).
Founded in 2016, the Singaporean proptech (property tech) startup was started by cousins Carleel Zulkifli (pic, right) and Mohd Fariz Rashid.
Carleel, who was a game developer at the time, showed some VR prototypes that he was experimenting on with cousin Fariz, who was a wealth planner, and they got the idea to use the solution to showcase apartments.
From there the two cousins decided to test the market in home renovations and the response was favourable. After building up some capital they decided to refine the technology and founded the company with the objective of changing the property sector.
“VR presents a paradigm shift in visualisation,” said Carleel who acts as woobaVR’s chief technology officer. “As opposed to static or still images of a property or project, users are now able to directly immerse themselves in a more realistic view of the property.”
He explains that woobaVR’s main selling point outside of the VR element, that they originally developed, was its mobile functionality.
By using a proprietary compression model that enables them to deliver high fidelity VR on a mobile device, they managed to solve the problem of large file sizes.
According to Carleel, they are able to take 3D drawings from SketchUp, 3D Max as well as Revit and compress them to an average file size of between 20 - 80MB for a typical project, making them ideal for viewing and sharing on any mobile device.
With backend infrastructure to host the files and the ability to send data over the air to a mobile app that is easily installed on smartphones or tablets, property developers can easily showcase their latest development in a more realistic and interactive way as opposed to the conventional scaled model.
He goes on to say that the potential upside for buyers is that they are able to view a property that is more accurately represented at their own convenience as well as share that viewing experience with other family members.
As for property developers, Carleel believes that woobaVR’s biggest draw is the reach and cost-effectiveness of the solution as they are able to build the project at a mere fraction of the cost of building a show unit. This includes building virtual show units for yet-to-be built properties.
Not only that, it is cheaper and more sustainable than printing flyers and brochures. It typically takes between three to five days to develop and deploy a project, maximising the reach, time and cost-effectiveness of their pre-sales efforts.
At present woobaVR said it has developed and delivered up to 15 projects for both property developers and home fixture vendors. Their clients include Bon Estate, Thriven Group, Naza TTDI, Lian Seng Hin, DBS and more.
woobVR said it had successfully raised seed funding last year and are looking to enter their pre-series A round towards the end of this year.
When asked about their expansion plans, Carleel responded that following their next round of funding they are looking at expanding into Malaysia for talent as well as clients.
“Most of our projects actually come from Malaysia and we find the property developers here to be much more open minded,” he said.
Apart from Malaysia, woobaVR is also looking to make inroads to other markets in Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.