Mitula Group CEO Gonzalo del Pozo (Pictured left) says appearing at conferences has made marketing to customers much easier. Time to register for Property Portal Watch Bangkok! Super early bird prices end 25 March.
Gonzalo del Pozo has always been an entrepreneur.
“I’ve never worked for anyone,” the Spanish-born co-founder and CEO of Mitula Group laughs.
In fact, del Pozo, who trained as an engineer did work for a consultancy firm for 10 months after his graduation but didn’t see himself in that line of work. Instead he started building internet businesses.
In 1997 del Pozo, along with partner Gonzalo Ortiz launched leading real estate portal Globaliza in Spain which at its peak had 70 employees and the support of important venture capital firms.
“We saw the emergence of aggregated classifieds as part of the industry,” del Pozo explains.
And since his team had been highly technical from the start, with strong SEO and SEM skills as well as many years of experience managing large amounts of data, the creation of the Mitula Group was a natural evolution.
Del Pozo, who founded Mitula in 2009 with Ortiz and Marcelo Badimon were joined by current board members Simon Baker and Joe Hanna in 2010. They now preside over arguably one of the most successful aggregated online classifieds companies in the world.
The simple formula del Pozo says, of selling traffic to online advertising customers, starting with a certain number of free ‘click outs’ has always been profitable.
Revenue is also earned when a user clicks on a Google AdSense advertisement appearing on the Mitula Group’s websites.
“We always try to run the company using a very lean model, making targeted investments, but we knew Mitula would be a success, because it made business sense,” del Pozo says.
Despite this, at the very beginning, del Pozo says it could be a challenge to convince vertical portals in some markets that Mitula Group could provide a good service in terms of high quality, low cost traffic.
The seven-year journey since the company’s inception in 2009 has been eventful. Its current portfolio comprises more than 166 websites in 46 countries speaking 18 languages.
Following the acquisition of Lokku Limited in May 2015, and listing on the Australian Stock Exchange, the Mitula Group started operating its websites under two main brands, ‘Mitula’ and ‘Nestoria’. In March 2016, another major acquisition, of Barcelona-based Nuroa Internet SL, cemented its position in Europe.
These days the company’s reputation precedes it.
“At this point I think Mitula is well known in the industry,” del Pozo asserts.
He says the company nevertheless focuses on differentiating itself by being closer to its customers. Presenting as a valued sponsor at Property Portal Watch Conferences is an important part of that.
“We listen more to what the customer needs, but essentially our product is the same as that of competitors like Trovit in that we provide high quality traffic to our customer’s sites.”
Del Pozo, who recently visited Melbourne to update the Mitula Group’s Australian investors on the company's plans, adds the company made a commitment to meet its investors face to face regularly rather than just uploading results.
He says the week was very positive, with all the major investors visited and everyone happy all-round with Mitula’s undeniable growth.
“There’s a lot of information out there now about Mitula but one of the things we’re trying to do is maintain our transparency with the market,” he says.
With 65 million visits per month and 100 million click outs sent to classified portals, Gonzalo says Mitula Group now has the size to better understand potential new markets.
“The world isn’t the same everywhere,” del Pozo says. “Until now, we had one product that worked the same everywhere in 46 countries with three verticals. Basically the same formula translated to local languages with some minor localization.”
The way he sees it in the next 2-3 years, Mitula Group will need to reconcile classifieds cultures in developing markets which can’t really be compared to those in Australia and Europe with which the company has mainly dealt with up until now.
“Australia is a mature market, not just in terms of internet search, but in terms of the way people do business,” he points out. “You can’t necessarily compare it to the way online classifieds are done in Pakistan, Indonesia, or Peru.”
“Classifieds markets in countries without any big established brands as yet are evolving quite differently to those in more mature markets where portals have been around for 20 years. We see great opportunities in both types of markets.”
Del Pozo says Asian markets are also of significant important to Mitula, from India to the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We’ve had a presence in the Philippines and Indonesia since 2012 and we’re happy with how those sites are rolling out.”
Del Pozo adds another benefit of being a bigger player is Mitula Group can now start thinking about developing in-house new verticals or acquiring other companies with different verticals to Mitula’s cars, property and jobs.
“We are still identifying other verticals we want to look after,” he says. “We’re watching smaller markets like Nigeria where the portal industry is just launched and aggregation is vey low. Those countries will be of interest to Mitula but it will take some time.
“There are very many verticals in many markets and we know the ones we don’t like,” he quips.
“We keep a close eye out for verticals we see as a good fit with the Mitula Group in terms of the skills and value we can provide.
“There are a few we think would be a good fit,” he adds coyly without revealing which ones. I guess it’s a case of watch this space.
While most investors and customers “get it” del Pozo concedes some education of the market will be required as Mitula moves forward into new developing regions.
“The first thing often said to us is ‘we are not a portal, you provide services to portals,’ so we have very to be very transparent and give them the numbers,” he explains.
“In terms of what the future is for Mitula, it’s often a case of identifying that not every country is the same. We have to invest more time into explaining that Indonesian online classifieds for example, can’t be compared to Australian online classifieds. They’re no the same.
“But I don’t think that’s any different from a company like REA Group which acquired Malaysian-based iProperty, having to incorporate those market differences. It’s one of the challenges as we see it.”
As for the future, del Pozo says it will be “mobile, mobile, mobile.”
“We have seen mobile apps taking over fast in the horizontal classifieds space,” he says. Big players the likes of Wallapop, Letgo or Vibbo are all changing their strategy to mobile. We still have to see how mobile will be translated to the vertical sites.
“At this time we sell clicks, in the future if you are a portal with an app you will still need audience so we see that as how we will innovate, by helping advertisers get more audience.”
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