VivaReal CEO Lucas Vargas will tell Property Portal Watch Madrid Conference delegates how its strategy over five years has kept the Brazil-based real estate marketplace neck and neck with key competitor ZAP Imoveis in the battle for leadership.
Zap is owned by Globo, the Brazilian media holding company with a monopoly across print, TV and radio platforms. It has been described as the number 1 player by revenue, but VivaReal has been on par or ahead of its rival in terms of traffic for several years.
In July, 2015 VivaReal was listed at second in Brazil’s online property portal market. According to Hitwise, it now holds the top spot in business and finance properties, garnering 17.47 per cent of total traffic.
The company announced a year-on-year traffic growth of 118 per cent in the first half of January this year, helped by an increase in its mobile traffic by 466 per cent.
Lucas Vargas says while current revenue figures are confidential, VivaReal has almost 5 million listings and over 15 million visits per month.
Traffic and listings
"We provide the best and the largest selection of properties for consumers, almost 5 million properties all over the country,' Vargas tells PPW.
"In addition to that, our apps have been recognized by Google and Apple as the best in the real estate category in Brazil, providing a great experience for those searching for homes.
"For advertisers, we have been informally recognized as the industry-friendly portal, with the products that deliver the best ROI," he says.
VivaReal is certainly one of Latin America’s most funded companies. It has raised over US$18 million from Valiant Capital Partners, Kaszek Ventures and Monashees Capital.
The portal, touted as Brazil's equivalent to Australia's REA Group's realestate.com.au, most recently received an investment of US$12.75 from Dragoneer Investment Group in February 2014 followed a few months later by an injection of US$ 41.7 million, lead by Spark Capital.
Beyond the "two horse race" he describes, Vargas says the Brazilian market is fragmented, making it fertile ground.
"There is definitely a lot of efficiency and transparency to be created," he says.
"Agents and brokers, buyers and renters, homeowners, developers, all of these stakeholders recognize that the buying/renting process will evolve.
"No one can guarantee that a given model will win, but we have seen different experiments around over the world.
"We foresee consumers being more empowered and advertisers getting smarter in managing their advertising budget. Ten years from now, real estate transactions will be done more easily and we want to support the industry in that transformation."
Strategic, gutsy players
In 2009 and 2010, VivaReal was a relatively unknown player in the Brazilian property portal space. Over the last four years, co founder Brian Requarth, who is also a speaker at this year's conference in Madrid, with his team, has taken VivaReal to a leadership position.
As CEO of VivaReal for almost eight years Requarth launched the company in Colombia and then made the gutsy fiscal decision to focus its operations in the Portuguese-speaking nation of Brazil.
Vargas, who took over from Requarth as CEO in June was sales VP, executive VP of sales and marketing and COO for a combined period of nearly four years.
Prior to his role at VivaReal, he spent close to three years at Bain as a senior associate consultant and was a co-founder and executive director at Deu Samba, a daily-deal start-up for eight months.
He also worked as co-CEO at Groupon in Brazil for more than a year.
Strong management and vision
Vargas says Requarth, who is now executive chairman of the VivaReal board, will be more focused on tasks that he impacts the most: client management, business development, culture, recruiting, and investors relations.
"My new position is not very different from the previous one, as COO, however now I am closer to the tech team, but still have the responsibility to integrate the multiple departments around the same vision," Vargas says.
He says the company's vision for the next five years is to become the best and largest platform that connects all the stakeholders of real estate transactions in Brazil.
"The process of buying/renting a home is full of pain points and we believe the solution has to come from an outsider, a technology firm that supports and connects everyone, streamlining that process and providing a great experience to every member of the real estate ecosystem."
Floor will be open!
As for the conference in Madrid, Vargas generously opens the floor to "anything people want to know".
"Our growth strategy five years ago, challenges with scaling our organization, building a high performing team, the impact of a shrinking economy in the real estate market, any other topic that might be interesting,' he says.
"We are really excited to participate once again in this great conference, exchange ideas, learn from others, and keep developing the global real estate property industry."
Simon Baker is an investor of VivaReal.