The company’s generic domain made it easy to pivot its business model.
One of the main benefits of branding around a generic keyword or phrase is the freedom to pivot or expand the business beyond the initial idea. A great example is Knock.
Founded in 2015, Knock started life as a real estate brokerage business, guaranteeing homes would be sold within six weeks or Knock would buy the house himself. It sounds like a bold statement – especially before the real estate boom of the past two years – but Knock’s founders were buoyed by their previous experience in the real estate market.
Knock CEO Sean Black and COO Jamie Glenn were among the founding members of Trulia, a popular real estate marketplace launched in 2004 and sold to Zillow for $2.5 billion in 2015.
In July 2020, after raising $434.5 million in disclosed funding, Knock announced a significant shift in strategy, moving away from real estate brokerage to focus on lending. Knock now offers home loans with a twist, allowing customers to buy their new home before selling their old one under certain circumstances. It also allows non-cash buyers to make all-cash offers. This is something many people are looking to do in today’s tight housing market.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the advantages of Knock’s generic brand name is that it could easily change strategy without rebranding. The strength of the Knock brand is reinforced by its domain name, Knock.com.
Knock first launched as Knockaway, using Knockaway.com before moving to Knock and the Knock.co domain. From what I can tell, it seems Knock was aware of the difference between Knock.co, which he owned, and Knock.com, which he only owned in 2017.
An Archive.org record shows that Knock used its domain, Knock.co, as a page title as well as in offline marketing, clearly identifying itself as Knock.co.
Any confusion between Knock.co and Knock.com was alleviated in late 2017 when Knock secured Knock.com. He acquired the domain name from its longtime owner, a computer consultant named Jim Knock.
Knock is one of many companies that have benefited from venture capital interest in the proptech industry. In 2021 alone, venture capital-backed real estate and proptech companies raised nearly $21 billion, according to Crunchbase.
This year, it seems that proptech continues to receive colossal funding. Knock is leading the proptech charge, announcing that the company recently raised $220 million in funding. This is in addition to the $70 million in funding and $150 million in debt financing that Knock disclosed in March 2022.
Knock’s shift in strategy appears to be paying off, with an easy transition backed by a robust generic brand name and its premium domain, Knock.com.