We connected with Aqarmap’s CEO and Founder, Amad Almsaodi, at the Property Portal Watch Madrid 2018 Conference this past November.
The Egyptian-based Aqarmap was established in 2011, and in 2014 the company entered the Saudi Arabian market as well.
The property portal claims over 1.5 million registered users and 5,000 brokers listing properties on its platform. Each month, the marketplace generates 200,000 leads, and it has helped sell in excess of 15,000 properties in 2017.
Aqarmap has enabled consumers to reserve properties completely online using their credit card(s). “They basically pay a small deposit fee online, which we use to track the actual transaction and collect a commission."
"We have tried this service with three developers, they assigned us some units in their projects and we have sold them all in less than 48 hours,” stated Almsaodi, adding that the company is excited about this model because it is extremely profitable, yet one drawback is that it works only with new project launches,” stated Almsaodi.
We asked Almsaodi what sets Aqarmap apart from the other portals? “Going after the transaction with an eCommerce attitude is something which we haven't seen any other portals attempt to do. Allowing consumers to do the transaction on our website using their credit cards is something we have succeeded at and plan to improve with time,” said Almsaodi.
“We are big fans of iProperty in southeast Asia, we feel that their approach to emerging markets is very local and is different from all other portals who typically copy the models and approaches that succeeded in Europe and other developed markets”.
They say that hindsight is 20/20; we asked Almsaodi if he could share one thing which he would have done differently when he started the company… knowing what he knows now. He said that he would have raised more money early on. “We delayed raising money as soon as we hit break-even. We excellent at monetizing early on, and while that’s great, relying on organic growth alone slowed our overall growth,” he added.
We asked what Almsaodi thought was the biggest challenge(s) in the emerging race to the transaction model. Almsaodi views the scalable and profitable model as the biggest challenge, “To get into transactions as a portal it’s very easy, you can achieve some traction in a matter of weeks, but it’s challenging to scale the model in a profitable way without having major operations and a cost structure similar to a broker,” added Almsaodi.
Also, Almsaodi stated that the verticalization of horizontal classifieds, Facebook marketplace, and the expected arrival of Amazon in the classifieds industry are the current concerns.
And, what other portals, people, or companies, does Aqarmap see as innovators/leaders in their field? “We are big fans of iProperty in southeast Asia, we feel that their approach to emerging markets is very local and is different from all other portals who typically copy the models and approaches that succeeded in Europe and other developed markets,” commented Almsaodi.
What advice would Almsoadi give a fellow Portal executive? “Most importantly: Collect as much data about the consumers visiting your website and build complete profiles about them.”
The least important: “Invest in mobile installs, mobile is big indeed, but we feel in property most of mobile usage is mobile web and not mobile apps. Let mobile apps growth be organic, its only for the extremely serious buyers or property investors.”
Almsaodi was a featured speaker at the Property Portal Watch Conference but he also had a chance to sit-in on other speakers’ presentations, and he declared that one of the best comments he heard at the event was that it takes at least seven years to build a leading portal. “We sometimes doubt ourselves because it has taken a long time for us to achieve the level of market dominance we have now in Egypt, but knowing that most portals worldwide took as long was reassuring,” said the Aqarmap CEO.
Join us in Bangkok the 19th to the 21st of March for the Property Portal Watch Conference.