I have been part on the lookout for cool tech companies in South East Asia and one of the popular tech companies is Lamudi. Lamudi is for buying, selling and renting out properties online. Because of how impressive Lamudi has been in the Philippines, we decided to interview the CEO and Managing Director of Lamudi, Ms. Jacqueline van den Ende.

Three years ago, Jacqueline moved to Manila to start a business. She is from the Netherlands. “I grew up all around the world though. By now,  I have lived in Australia, Syria, Peru, Norway, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and of course, my home country. I love to travel, and I love to build companies. This is the second company I built,” Jacqueline added. As a student, she set up The Young Consultant (De Kleine Consultant), a strategy consulting company which now operates in 10 cities across 3 countries. On weekends, she loves to surf!

 

Lamudi CEO and Founder

Lamudi CEO and Founder

Interview with Jacqueline van den Ende, CEO of Lamudi

Manila Reviews: Can you please tell us about Lamudi? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Lamudi Philippines is part of the Lamudi group, a start-up supported by Berlin-based Rocket Internet. It is an online real estate listings platform in which virtually all properties for sale and for rent across the Philippines (condos, houses, residential lots, agricultural land, warehouses, and even islands and memorial lots) are listed and advertised online. Our main customers are real estate brokers, property developers, and private sellers who want to advertise their properties online and increase their visibility, which in return boost the amount of leads and inquiries for their properties. On the other hand, our website’s main users are property buyers (homebuyers, renters, real estate investors); we offer these users a single place where they can find every type of property listed online so they don’t have to look elsewhere.

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Manila Reviews: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Our target market is the homebuyers, renters, real estate investors, and the like—basically any person who is looking for a property, whether to rent or to buy, in the Philippines. As Filipinos are increasingly going online (latest data shows that Internet penetration in the Philippines is at 50%), they practically turn to the Internet (either via desktop or mobile) to find something or get a question answered. This includes real estate. Filipinos now are buying gadgets and clothes online, booking airline tickets and hotel rooms online, paying online, applying for loans online, hailing cabs and private cars online, and are now increasingly looking for real estate online, especially condos and houses in important locations, such as Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, etc. However, this is where our involvement stops. Once a buyer has decided to inquire about a property through our website and is connected to a seller or real estate broker, Lamudi is no longer involved—we only provide a safe and secure place where buyers and sellers meet, but in order to provide buyers security, we only allow PRC-licensed real estate brokers and property developers to list their properties on our website.

Manila Reviews: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

In every major real estate market, there is one online real estate listings platform that dominates. It is Zillow in the United States, realestate.com.au in Australia, and Rightmove in the UK. There was none in the Philippines when we decided to open here. As people will eventually move online when looking for real estate, we feel that the timing is right to offer this service to Filipino property buyers.

 

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Manila Reviews: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Initially it was really difficult to get a foot in the door with our clients. We would have to call them relentlessly to finally get an appointment. As an unknown brand you get rejected all the time. That tide has definitely turned now. Some clients that we have been pursuing for years are now finally contacting us rather than the other way around.

Manila Reviews: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business?

Hiring of the right people is the first important challenge. Your company is only as good as your team. If you have the best team in the market, you will emerge as the winner. The second thing is that you need to think about survival. The times when startup valuations were purely built on user growth are starting to fade. It is important to become cash flow positive as soon as possible. Though free trials are important to scale your business – it is important to think about monetization from the start. If a client is not willing to pay for your services he/she does not value your service enough.

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Manila Reviews: What are three traits that you think a Start-up Founder/Entrepreneur should have when starting their own business?

First you should be action oriented. A startup in early phases is 10% idea and 90% execution. Second you need to be flexible. Things generally don’t go as expected. You can’t plan far ahead when you are starting up. So you need to think on your feet and be ready to change direction quickly, if necessary. Third you need to be thick skinned. You face a lot of rejection and possibly disappointment, or at least I did. You need to be able to pick yourself up and keep walking.

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Manila Reviews: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Start-up Founder/Entrepreneur

I learned some painful lessons about the importance of hiring great people and the cost of hiring the wrong people. Initially we had to grow the company very fast. So at times we would hire people just to fill up the seats, even if we had reservations or without proper background checking. That resulted in numerous stolen laptops, a number of fraud cases, and people who would disappear from one day to another. Now we have a very strict screening process in place. When you apply you have to take a written exam, then 3 interviews and background checks on all candidates. As a result, we now have the very best team in the industry.

Manila Reviews: What advice can you give to other Start-up Founders/Entrepreneurs?

Hire fast, fire faster. You need to spend most of your time on hiring the right people. If you make a hiring mistake, fire fast. Even though these are difficult decisions to make, it is better to make such decisions sooner than later. Again, your company is only as good as your team.

Manila Reviews: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

No, I don’t think so. It is really a matter of personal preference. I think other people get equally as much fulfilment from holding a regular job. You can be entrepreneurial in any kind of job. Being an entrepreneur is very risky especially if you are funding your own business. 99% of startups fail. So definitely it’s not for everyone.

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Manila Reviews: What is your belief about raising capital? What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

If you can self-fund your business, then you don’t necessarily need to raise capital. If you want to grow your business beyond your current means, you might have to raise external capital or you can get a loan. The advantage of getting a loan is that you don’t have to give up equity. Early stage startups can attract funding from family, friends, or angel investors. In a later stage, you might need to pitch to venture capitalists. Venture capital firms look at the ability of a startup to grow to a significant size in a very fast way.

Manila Reviews: How do you market your products?

Lamudi has 2 types of clients. First we have end users – people who use our website to find properties. We market to them through heavy investments in online marketing (Search engine marketing and optimization, Facebook marketing etc.). Our other client is the property seller i.e. brokers and property developers. This is a B2B business. We sell to brokers and developers through our sales force who meet up with the clients and explain our product.

Manila Reviews: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

In our operations, we use Salesforce as our CRM. Having a strong CRM in place is very important to track your leads and clients and to monitor your operations. For communication, we generally use Skype, though Skype has a lot of limitations. You could also use Slack. Online marketing uses campaign tracking tools like Smartly.

Thank you so much, Jacqueline for sharing these experiences and insights for all of us (especially for those who want to start a  business)! More power to Lamudi!

Contact information about your business:

Website: www.lamudi.com.ph
Email address: wecare@lamudi.com.ph
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LamudiPhilippines?ref=hl
Twitter account: http://twitter.com/Lamudi_PH
Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/lamudi_ph/

 

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