Knock knock: Knock raises $220 million at knock.com

The company’s generic domain made it easier to pivot its business model.

Knock’s generic name made it easier to pivot.

One of the major benefits of branding around a generic keyword or phrase is the freedom to pivot or expand the business beyond the initial idea. A prime example is Knock.

Founded in 2015, Knock began life as a real estate brokerage business, guaranteeing that homes would be sold within six weeks or Knock would buy the house itself. This seems like a bold statement — especially before the housing boom of the past two years — but Knock’s founders were buoyed by their previous experience in the real estate market.

Knock’s 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 in certain circumstances. It also enables 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 benefits of Knock’s generic brand name is that it could easily change strategies without rebranding. The solidity of Knock’s brand is reinforced by its domain name, Knock.com.

Knock initially launched as Knockaway, using Knockaway.com before switching to Knock and the Knock.co domain. From what I can tell, it looks like Knock was conscious of differentiating between Knock.co, which it owned, and Knock.com, which it didn’t own until 2017.

An Archive.org record shows that Knock used its domain, Knock.co, as its page title as well as in offline marketing, clearly defining itself as Knock.co.

Any confusion between Knock.co and Knock.com was alleviated in late 2017 when Knock secured Knock.com. It acquired the domain name from its long-term owner, a computer consultant called Jim Knock.

Knock is one of many companies that has benefited from venture capital interest in the proptech industry. In 2021 alone, venture-backed real estate and proptech companies raised nearly $21 billion, according to Crunchbase.

This year, it seems that proptech is continuing to receive mammoth amounts of funding. Knock is leading the proptech charge, announcing that the company recently raised $220 million in funding. This is in addition to $70 million of funding and $150 million of debt financing that Knock disclosed in March 2022.

Knock’s shift in strategy seems to be paying dividends, with the easy transition supported by a robust generic brand name and its premium domain, Knock.com.

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