In just over three years, the Spanish start-up Spotahome has begun to revolutionalise the online real estate market by making the process of renting simple for the three main players involved: tenants, landlords and homeowners.
Alejandro Artacho – a guest speaker at the PPW Lisbon conference – founded Spotahome in March 2014 to reduce the stress associated with finding a rental property. Spotahome offers a platform where seekers can book an apartment online without having to visit the property – a task completed by the start-up’s ‘home checkers’ who are employed to take quality photos, create HD video tours and detailed floor plans for each property.
The idea was born out of a combination of experiences, one being Artacho’s stint working in London’s real estate sector. It became apparent to him how much time, effort and money people invested in their search for accommodation.
The platform attracts both students and professionals who are looking for medium to long-term stays, with a minimum booking period of 30-days.
“Spotahome offers a direct solution to finding accommodation, especially in cases where a person is moving between cities or countries,” Artacho explains. “It allows you to secure accommodation before you even arrive in your new city.”
From strength to strength
Since its launch three years ago, Spotahome has expanded across nine countries in Europe and is available in 16 cities, clocking up €45M total contract value as at Q2 2017. The business employs 200 people in Madrid and over 100 freelancers across Europe.
In 2016 the business won the best start-up award at Madrid’s coveted South Summit, an experience Artacho says has helped Spotahome gain even more of a foothold in the industry.
“South Summit gave us lots of coverage because there were investors from different countries in the world,” he says. “Even though we weren’t fundraising we started to get lots of phone calls and there were VCs from different places in the world.
But possibly the most positive thing experienced by the win was the way it motivated the team.
“Everyone wants to work for winners, for champions,”he says. “The day we won the competition, we had a massive party and everyone felt super proud. The following week you could see employees wearing the spotahome tshirt.
Keeping up with demand
Working for a business that is growing quickly can also present challenges and Artacho says building technology to keep up with demand can be difficult.
“We have to create a priorty list and select carefully what we’re working on because markets are going to evolve,” he says.
“Because real estate is becoming really hot, a lot of people realise that the time for offline traditional real estate agents are limited and so more people are getting into online. The challenge is to be really fast and make the best decisions as quickly as possible.”
But, looking to the future, Artacho says Spotahome shows no signs of slowing down.
“Our plan is to be everywhere in the world,” he says. “We are expanding in Europe and it doesn’t matter what country you look at, the rental process in all real estate industries are exactly the same.”