In a globalized business environment, while expanding your company’s services across boarders might not be as much of a testing process as it once was, it remains a challenge for any new venture. For a startup specifically aiming to be active on a global scale, effective planning, organization, and structuring are pivotal for expansion initiatives to be successful.
Lamudi, a Rocket Internet backed startup providing online real estate listings across the developing world has mad the transition to the multinational stage, and is currently active in over thirty countries in three continents, including the Middle East, and East Asian markets.
The firm has been growing at a fast pace, is looking to continue its expansion in Latin America, along with a bid to further grow its market footprint in Asia. The venture capital market seems to believe in the firm, with Lamudi recently picking up $18 million in funding to support both growth campaigns.
We interviewed Lamudi Co-Founder Paul Philipp Hermann to find out more about how the company made the transition into a global player, and what lies ahead for the future.
How did Lamudi emerge as an idea? What potential did you see in the global real estate market, and its demand?
Lamudi emerged to fill a gap that we identified in the online property marketplace. While searching for real estate online is a widespread practice in the developed world, it is less common in many emerging markets. However, this is slowly changing as internet penetration rises in regions like Asia, Africa and Latin America. So demand is increasing in emerging markets for the high-quality property portal that we offer. We expect to grow in line with the rising rate of internet usage in these regions.
Despite having only launched in 2013, Lamudi already has over 800,000 property listings globally. What do you attribute that growth to?
First and foremost, it is our people who are driving our growth. Without the strong team we have assembled at Lamudi headquarters in Berlin and in each of our local teams around the world, we would not be where we are today. Another key driver of our growth is the scalability of the platform. We have built a product that can be easily translated from one market to another, at a very fast pace but without compromising the quality of what we offer.
Speaking of growth, the company recently announced raising $18 million in funding to go towards a further expansion. What are the firm’s priorities for the coming market push?
This investment was for our operations in Asia and Latin America in particular. We will use this investment to make further improvements to our product, both on mobile and desktop. At the same time, our plan is to further consolidate our position in both of these regions. Lamudi is already the leading property portal in several Asian markets, including Bangladesh and Myanmar. Our goal for 2015 is to become market leader in all of our countries within these two regions.
Working in so many diverse markets simultaneously must be challenging. How does the company effectively coordinate such a vast global operations network?
Firstly we make sure we hire the right people, so that we have very strong local teams and proficient managing directors in each market. The key here is also the coordination that takes place at our headquarters in Berlin. The central teams at head office are in constant contact with each of our 32 countries, ensuring efficient workflow and clear communication across the global network.
Have you found that a common business plan is effective across markets, or does each new country require a unique approach?
It is difficult to generalize across markets because no two of our countries are exactly the same, even though there are some similarities. Often their property markets are at a different level of maturity. A key challenge in some of our markets, such as Myanmar for example where the internet penetration is among the lowest in the world, is that people working in real estate need to be convinced of the value in listing their properties online. In other more mature markets, such as Indonesia or the Philippines, which are already heavily digitized, we face stiff competition from some well-established competitors. Essentially, we need to tailor our approach to the market in question.
What would you say separates Lamudi from any given country’s domestic competitor?
Our global approach and international expertise. Our business model combines the in-depth market knowledge from our each of our local teams with the high-level support from our head office in Berlin. This sets us apart from many of our competitors, who are more often than not solely focused on their domestic market. This also means we have a wealth of data available about online house-hunting habits within regions and right across the emerging markets, which we are only beginning to tap into.
Any closing comments for our readers, and potential Lamudi users?
In less than two years, we have developed a comprehensive online database for property seekers that stretches from Mexico to Myanmar. For 2015, we plan to go head-to-head with established property players in each of our regions and dominate the online real estate marketplace in the emerging world.