Two seasoned UK fintech investors, Will Neale — co-founder of mobile payments firm Fonix and an investor in €5bn-valued Revolut — and Christian Faes, who co-founded Lendinvest, have emerged as backers of Kilkenny start-up Onate.
The fintech firm has provided 29 residential property bridging loans totalling €10.3m in 20 Irish counties since the beginning of the year, with a lending target of €100m by the end of next year.
Onate was founded in September 2020 by Dan Gandesha, who used to oversee corporate investments in start-ups at broadcaster Sky in the UK, and then moved to Kilkenny with his family a number of years ago.
He previously founded a separate property-related fintech, Property Partner, which raised £28m from European investors, and which he now supports as a non-executive director.
Joining him at Onate are lending manager John Ring, a former banker with AIB and Rabobank, and more recently of Finance Ireland.
Onate’s senior underwriting manager is Paul O’Sullivan, formerly of development lender Cullaun Capital, as well as AIB and Treasury Holdings.
Neale’s firm Fonix floated in London last year and is valued at £165m. Founded in 2006, it counts ITV, BT, and Comic Relief and Children in Need as customers.
Meanwhile, Faes’s Lendinvest has been one of the UK’s fastest-growing and best-known fintech companies — and has lent over £3.5bn since it was founded in 2008. It raised £500m from US investment bank JP Morgan in January, having shelved previous plans for an IPO in London in 2019.
In the last two months, loans have been approved by Onate’s team working remotely, for properties across Kildare, Dublin, Galway and Munster, and for purposes such as debt settlement, property purchase and light refurbishment, and equity release.
Typical loan sizes have ranged from €150,000 to €1m, according to the firm. Loans are given for terms of up to two years, and at up to a 65pc loan to value rate, depending on property location.
Funds being loaned come from the resources of Gandesha and his two backers, as well as from a number of UK finance institutions, with €500,000 having been spent on set-up costs and operations.
“All over Ireland, large property funds hold houses on their books that could be returned to the owner-occupier or rental markets in order to help tackle the housing shortage.
“But to do so, we need local property investors who understand how to resolve legacy issues associated with these properties.
“In turn, these investors need funding solutions that can handle complexity and move swiftly. This is exactly where Onate comes in,” said Gandesha.