In Conversation with Orygen—The Real Estate Proptech That Wants to Talk about Land

February 29, 2024
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"We want to be the go-to source for turning land into money."

Orygen is the proptech startup that wants the industry to stop talking about real estate and start talking about the land it's built on.

Sitting at the intersection of the marketplace, land analysis and brokerage, Orygen holds an interesting position in the proptech industry and is another example of a startup that is focused on land as opposed to real estate.

I spent some time with co-founders Victoria Hermida Esquitino (CEO) and Costanza Pinto Bonomo (COO) to talk about what Orygen does, the challenge of convincing landowners of the profit potential of their land, and their short- and long-term visions for the business.

Orygencofoundersvictoria Hermida Esquitino Ceo And Costanza Pinto Bonomo Coo

Victoria Hermida Esquitino (left) and Costanza Pinto Bonomo (right)

 

What does Orygen do?

Costanza: Orygen finds sustainable and profitable solutions for unused lands. We analyse and determine the land's viability as well as its potential through computer vision and AI models. We then upload the land to our marketplace, which connects landowners with businesses who are looking for land to develop their sustainable projects.

 

How does this work on a day-to-day basis?

Costanza: From ecological factors, legal intricacies, biodiversity assessments, carbon sequestration potential, and profitability studies, Orygen analyses land and shares invaluable insights with the owner parties about how they can best manage their land assets.

This not only enhances the inherent value of the land but also significantly boosts its appeal and marketability to potential buyers who are increasingly seeking sustainable and environmentally conscious investment opportunities.

 

When did the business launch?

Victoria: We officially launched in November 2022, but our platform was launched in July 2023.

 

What are the highlights of the journey so far?

Costanza: We raised $150,000, and have been applying that money to develop our platform and our technology.

We currently have more than 100 plots of land on our platform, and have analysed over 20,000 hectares of land, which has truly been proof that what we’re doing is necessary.

 

What's been the biggest challenge for the team?

Costanza: When you're running a growing business, everything seems like a huge deal while it's happening.

Our biggest challenge is convincing landowners that we're not trying to sell them any type of fraud. This is an incredibly personal experience for them. When we tell landowners what they can do with their land, they're terrified and don't want to explore options that sit outside their comfort zone.

Victoria: I would say that it is how we perceive ourselves. We started out very much as cleantech, but have pivoted to proptech since our co-founder told us that that was the space that made more sense for us and our model. It's been a major shift for us and represents a big, but sensible, challenge.

 

Would you consider the pivot to proptech to be a big win for the business?

Costanza: Definitely. It has opened our eyes to a whole new market and how to expand what we're doing much faster. We've accelerated our process significantly since this realisation.

 

When will you fundraise again?

Victoria: We're currently seeking €350k to grow faster and ultimately finish the development of our technology.

But just as importantly, we want to partner with an investor that gives us advice: from the real estate world, land or rural landscapes, for example. It's super important to be aligned with our investors.

 

What's the short-term goal for the business?

Costanza: We need to develop the technology to compete, especially in terms of immediately validating or refusing different lands.

We also want to attract landowners to our platform on a repeat basis, not only via ads but also through a referral method.

Victoria: We also want to show people that their land has untapped profit—that can be harnessed without much effort.

 

What's the long-term vision?

Costanza: These are long-term investments but without landowners having to invest any money. We already know where the lands are, we can determine which ones will be most profitable, and we know how to make them even more profitable. We want to create a model that invests intelligently in land over the very long term.

Victoria: Long-term we see the potential for Orygen to become an alternative investment platform for rural properties that are highly profitable. These types of investments are A) alive and B) have no end date. If we build a forest, the landowner can own that forest for 1,000 years. Materials like wood and anything that comes from soil are only going to become more valuable over time. We want to be the go-to source for turning land into money.

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February 29, 2024
Harvey is an experienced property journalist and copywriter. He has written about the property industry since 2015, starting at The Property Franchise Group in the UK, before moving to Spain to work for Spotahome. He has blogged for the private rented sector, ghostwritten for UK property experts and written case studies for franchise owners around the UK. Harvey joined Online Marketplaces as a News Editor in 2022.

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