“As a start-up, it’s difficult to work on strategic plans as you are covering everything else,” said Gabriel Gruber, co-founder and CEO of Properati, part of OLX Group. “Now, I have the resource to look at the bigger picture and plan and implement strategies.”
Gruber thinks working with a bigger company gives Properati the opportunity and resources to apply lessons learned as a startup.
He will be speaking at the AIM Group’s new MarketplacesBuzz conference in Sao Paolo on Nov. 6-7, about how to take the best of the start-up world and the best of the corporate world and merge them together for real estate.
The AIM Group spoke with Gruber about his presentation ahead of the conference:
“In real estate, there are many new startups innovating and doing cool things but, on the other side, big corporations with big marketing budgets can provide the resources to get ideas implemented and scaled,” he said.
“I want to look at how to take advantage of the two worlds and how to mix the ideas and speed of implementation that startups have with the resources corporate companies bring.”
How has Properati developed?
I co-founded a company called Sumavisos, a search engine for classifieds, cars, real estate and jobs and then six years ago we moved fully into real estate. We launched Properati in Latin America and opened offices in Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, Santiago and Mexico. We sell leads to construction companies.
We were bought by OLX Group in June 2018 and are working with their teams in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. In the first 18 months, revenue is growing by 60 percent more than expected when we signed the deal.
We are launching a new version of Properati for sellers this month and for buyers in a few months. It will be more customer-centric, taking the best practices from corporate and doing things we didn’t have the time and resources to do before.
We want to have the best product possible for each individual market, to provide bespoke functionality. For instance, in Colombia, we have a status filter, showing how wealthy you are, an important feature for that market.
What has the process of integration been like?
A big task was how to transform a smaller company and make it sustainable and how to integrate our product with a big company. This is challenging in terms of different cultures and people. It’s not just about products and technology.
Before everything was done by the co-founders, now we can hire people, work with groups and look at scaling the business. My role now is a facilitator, building and integrating a team. It’s an interesting role and important for the business.
What other challenges did you face?
The other important factor is the technical knowledge we accumulated as a start-up, we can begin to encode.
Knowledge is not always documented as you are busy doing it. Now we have the chance to build processes and refine them based on our previous knowledge and experience, for instance micro-services on the back end, improving the front end.
The technology by itself is not cool, but if it gives consumers products they want that work better, faster and simpler – that’s cool.
Our challenge is to become more customer-centric. Everything we do now is focused on generating value for the user and finding ways to capture that value. Companies also need to become part of the transaction. You need both to be a successful online business.
How does Properati work?
We offer a new service for mortgages that compares mortgages from different banks. We generate the mortgage between the customer and bank and the bank pays us a fee.
As a portal we are at the beginning of the funnel for the housebuyer and we want to extend that process to cover more of the transaction in the future. I will share some ideas on that.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Gabriel Gruber is the latest in a series of interviews by the AIM Group with speakers at the MarketplacesBuzz conference in Sao Paulo on Nov. 6-7. Gruber is a co-founder of Properati, which was bought by OLX Group in June 2018. He is now real estate director for Latin America at OLX Group and has been in the real estate and classified business for 10 years.