Ten Questions with Riccardo Falconi, CEO at DoorInsider

May 17, 2024
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When we interviewed French startup DoorInsider in 2022, the company was a portal with a difference - namely the production of high quality content to make listings more attractive.

It's been a busy journey since. DoorInsider has now expanded its offering to include a brokerage and a fully-fledged creative studio, taking it one step closer to becoming an end-to-end solution for agents, brokers, buyers and sellers in France (and beyond).

We caught up with Riccardo Falconi, CEO to find out more about Hubspot as an inspiration, the challenges of integrating Matterport technology into portals, and more...

 

Riccardo, hi. What are the best and worst parts of the real estate experience in France?

France is one of the most highly regulated countries in the world, including real estate. Marketplaces and professionals must comply with a significant number of technical constraints.

The French real estate market is mature by dynamics and structure, with well-entrenched incumbents making it difficult for challengers to change the status quo.

We believe this, paradoxically, turns it into a perfect opportunity for an agile startup with a robust product and ambitious vision. France can be the ideal laboratory for further scalability abroad, coupled with a significant addressable market size domestically.

 

When we interviewed DoorInsider in 2022, you weren’t a brokerage and you didn’t offer a creative studio—now you have both. What business need forced this pivot, and how did you achieve it?

Users want synergies, cost efficiencies and faster delivery.

[In 2022] We offered a portal and visual marketing services but were already iterating an all-in-one business model. The process was backed by client feedback as they wanted to bypass fragmentations in the market.

We have also added credit and insurance brokerage services to consolidate the needs of end-users (i.e. buyers/renters) and address their principal pain points: Search, Estimate, Decoration and Financing. These new services have triggered immediate enthusiasm as they further accelerate and simplify the transaction process.

Overcoming market fragmentation by integrating different verticals into a single platform delivers immediate synergies. However, it requires high-quality execution and product vision since all the technical components and operational requirements must be mastered.

 

What are some takeaways for PropTech and FinTech founders are considering pivoting their business models?

Pivoting, or simply adding new bricks to one's offering, requires iteration, time and agility. One cannot embark on such a process without either of them, particularly if you are pushing the market into unknown territory.

Innovating by organically integrating Media, Proptech & Fintech as we are doing at DoorInsider is a very subtle exercise as we are creating a new market category in a sector (i.e real estate marketplaces) that has essentially not evolved in 20 years, particularly in France.

 

Can you explain the idea of the crossover between Hubspot and Real estate?

DoorInsider wants to be a full-fledged ecosystem where users (private or professionals) can seamlessly access features and services addressing their real estate needs.  

We consolidate various needs and solutions on a unique platform driven by automation, responsiveness and interoperability to maximise synergies and user experience.

Hubspot has successfully developed a similar approach for marketing and sales, and we believe that real estate is ripe for change in this regard.

The Next Gen real estate marketplace must promote content as king and experience as queen.

 

Who is your primary audience and how do you monetise them?

We have a B2B2C model—we address professional and individual end-users alike.

Our subscription plans are open to real estate professionals (agents, brokers, notaries, lawyers,...) wishing to list their properties on DoorInsider and benefit from our Creative Studio and the roster of adjacent services.

Meanwhile, end-users like buyers and renters are the natural target audience in terms of reach. We monetise our audience through lead generation and our credit and insurance brokerage services (DoorInsider Finance), which allows us to step into the transaction itself.

 

What numbers can you share about DoorInsider Finance?

Initial dynamics are very promising. Roughly a 70-30 split in terms of lead generation comes from our partner agents on the one end and directly from the website on the other end.

Regarding the portion of our leads coming directly from the website, we observe 10x returns on marketing spend. Leads generated from partners' referrals come in rather seamlessly, as they see it as a natural extension of their ongoing relationship with DoorInsider.

 

As a partner of Matterport, do you see Matterport technology coming to portals like OnTheMarket?

We have historically offered Matterport post-production services to our clients and believe that Matterport is a top-notch immersive 3D virtual tour software.

Yet despite its obvious quality, Matterport is an expensive solution, with clients often asking us for more affordable options.

We think it will be difficult for Matterport to come to portals as it not only requires very significant investments in terms of hosting of spaces/virtual tours that neither agents are naturally inclined to sustain (nor that portals can afford for all of their listings)—but additionally, it also triggers some non-negligible hardware costs along the way to deploy the solution across agents.

It is not clear who would want to sustain such costs.

For all these reasons, we decided to develop internal technology instead. We have thus created our own in-house 3D virtual tour software and made it available on an unlimited basis (free of charge) to our partners through the Creative Studio.

 

What next for DoorInsider?

The next step for DoorInsider is to redefine the online search/media experience altogether. Real estate portals typically offer a search and display experience that has not evolved much for over 20 years, with listings accompanied by a combination of pictures and text. Some new searching features are starting to appear, notably, using AI, but they are not fundamentally changing the display experience.

Our ambition will be to offer a lifestyle approach with interactive and viral content that partners can use on the side, rather than the traditional view.

We are also currently working on turning DoorInsider into an MLS so that partners can seamlessly refer business to one another. We know this is something that they value and we should be releasing it shortly.

 

How do you see the market evolving and what will you do to stay ahead of the curve?

From a product point of view, we already have an advantage over big players. Our biggest challenge is to get more notoriety and accelerate our clients’ acquisitions, from the value chain to facilitating real estate transactions and providing assistance in renovation work and energy transition. 

 

What isn’t the industry talking about that it should spend more time talking about?

The industry does not deal enough with the global experience and needs of buyers and sellers, at least in France where our portal acts as a pure publisher.

We believe that the next generation of portals must play as a facilitator.

May 17, 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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