Nicolas Tejerina, CEO of Argentina-based Navent, knows a thing or two about building a successful classifieds operation.
Launched in 2009, Navent now operates in nine countries in Latin America including Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela, employs 900 people and presides over roughly 20 million unique users, divided equally between real estate and job searches.
Tejerina joined jobs classifieds site Bumeran.com at a time when newspapers still ruled the classifieds and proceeded to turn the flailing business around after recognising the potential in the digital classifieds market.
After taking control of the company, which had a debt of $500,000, he and business partner Alejandro Navarro paid the debt off in two years.
His success with Bumeran.com in disrupting the market and changing the way people searched for jobs spurred Tejerina to shift his focus to the property sector.
And so Navent was born.
[caption id="attachment_20139" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Navent CEO Nicolas Tejerina imparts from of his valuable business acumen. Hear him speak in Madrid,[/caption]
“In 2009 after careful consideration based on our experience we decided that we could become a major player in the online real estate classifieds business,” Tejerina told Property Portal Watch.
In 2010 Navent pushed forward by acquiring leading verticals ImovelWeb in Brazil, Inmuebles24 in Mexico, Adondevivir in Peru and Plusvalia in Equador.
“My prior experience as CEO of Bumeran helped me understand the complexities of operating regional platforms and the different cultural backgrounds," Tejerina said.
Here, Tejerina imparts his expert advice on how to effectively and successfully scale a classifieds business.
“You need to raise sufficient capital to to deploy a consistent five-year plan,” he said.
“Pricing your services right at a level where entering the platform for your customers is not a monetary issue,” he said.
“Do not overshoot in pricing as it might block customers from joining your platform but don’t go free, as these formulas in Latam have usually not worked.”
Tejerina says, from his experience, offering a free platform resulted in low levels of customer engagement, low quality of listings and it also gives a perception of bad service.
“Stop considering customer growth as an objective only achievable by specialised field sales,” he said.
“Instead, start thinking e-commerce and call centres.”
“Create a brand that attracts audiences,” Tejerina said. “Usually advertisers will follow audiences.”
“Never rule out strategic partnerships or mergers and acquisitions as a means of accelerating your path to consolidation,” he said.