The CEO and co-founder of the Argentine-based property portal Properati, will discuss the challenges of what it takes to win in an emerging market region like Latin America, during a panel session at this year’s Global Online Classifieds Summit in Miami.
Properati was launched in Argentina in 2012 and has since expanded throughout Latin America to Brazil, Chile and Mexico, employing 35 people across all offices.
In the first five months of 2017, its revenues in Latin America grew by 64 per cent and it has plans to further grow the business later this year.
Gabriel Gruber, the CEO and co-founder of the portal, says one of the key challenges in starting Properati was the fact the business had to go outside its own country to make money, which presented a steep learning curve.
“Since we started the company we raised almost $5 million,” he told PPW. All the money was invested in creating the business from scratch in each country where we made errors, learned from these mistakes, and then went to market again.
“Most of the time we need to adapt our product, our business model, our culture - everything from country to country,” he adds.
Gruber says that Brazil has always been the portal’s most lucrative market and is where it makes more than 50 per cent of its revenue.
“There’s a huge difference between Brazil and the rest of the countries in terms of scale and technology, that’s what helps us to make more money there,” he says.
“They (in Brazil) know what they are doing; they have call centres, software and they know how much to pay for a lead - it’s all related to scale.”
He says other countries in Latin America are vastly different from this model, which can make the process of building up the business slow.
“If you look at Argentina or Chile, they’re smaller, but they don’t have the scale that it requires to set this up,” he notes.
“They’re using software and they’ve got sales centres, but they’re just starting.”
Choosing the right team
Gruber says recruiting like-minded team members who share common goals is a vital part of being able to grow a business in other markets.
“I think an important lesson for us is that we want to hire people that are like us, like entrepreneurs,” he says. “They might work for Properati but they manage the company like it is their own.”
He says creating a solid foundation in new markets can be achieved if a strong framework is in place to drive the team forward.
“To create a company in all these different markets, the most challenging part is hiring the right people and creating a culture that works,” he explains. “If you do that, the rest of the problems like; how to make money; how to go to market - everything you can think of it - it will be resolved in some way.