In the sixth episode of season eight, Louisa hosts the first Propcast on the Italian PropTech market. She is joined by Giorgio Tinacci, Founder & CEO and Fausto Maglia, Chief Product Officer at Casavo to hear about their journey of founding Casavo in 2017. We’ll learn about how the product enables the residential community to buy and sell quickly, conveniently and simply. Giorgio talks us through their series C raise back in March 2021 and they discuss how they’ve adapted their product and their marketing for different European markets.
Key Insights From This Episode:
- The Italian PropTech market has been growing rapidly since 2018, the number of PropTech companies operating in Italy has been doubling year by year. – Louisa
- In Europe, it’s a sellers’ market. – Giorgio
- It was a hyper-growth journey and it still is. – Giorgio
- Digitalisation in real estate is really green. – Giorgio
- I was always keen on investing in human capital before technology and business. – Giorgio
- It’s important that new technologies can lead to a disruptive innovation or a new market. – Fausto
- There are a lot of existing technologies that should be applied to old problems. – Fausto
- 20 years ago you had to go to a travel agency if you wanted to go to Japan. Today, you can book a ticket with your smartphone. That is the level of simplicity we are looking for in real estate. – Fausto
- The next three to five years will lead to a substantial change in the real estate market. – Fausto
About Our Guests:
Giorgio Tinacci graduated with a degree in International Management from Bocconi and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2015. He then joined BCG, where he worked for 2 years focusing on digital transformation projects in banking, insurance, and industrial goods. Giorgio left BCG in September 2017 and founded Casavo, the leading digital residential platform in Europe.
Fausto Maglia is currently Chief Product Officer at Casavo, after leading the Marketing Team in the first phases of the company growth. Fausto has a very variegate background, with the tech world as a constant, as he has been part of product/tech teams in startups and large corporations in the travel, telecommunications, and real estate industry.
Casavo is a digital residential platform that is redesigning the experience of selling and buying homes in Europe leveraging proprietary technology in each step of the transaction process. Whether you want to sell or buy a home, Casavo makes it simple, fast and convenient, providing the best solution for your needs. Casavo offers integrated home-related services, providing a turn-key experience with an inclusive approach towards real estate operators (brokers, contractors, banks. etc). Founded in 2017 by Giorgio Tinacci, Casavo currently operates in Italy (Milan, Rome, Turin, Florence and Bologna) and Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), rapidly expanding into other European markets thanks to the work of an international team of over 300 people and the support of top-tier global investors. As of November 2021, Casavo has carried out more than 2,000 transactions for a value in excess of €600 million.
About Our Host
Louisa started her career in property working at a well-known estate agency in London. Realising her people skills, she moved over to Lloyd May to pursue a career in recruitment. She now is a Director at LMRE, who are a specialist recruitment firm driven by PropTech and recruitment professionals, and Louisa oversees their 5 core areas. Louisa co-founded LMRE and provides a constructive recruitment platform to the new disruptors in real estate. Louisa is also on the board of Directors at UK PropTech Association (UKPA).
LMRE believe there is a better way to recruit. LMRE focus on a more comprehensive, client led focus delivering exceptional talent to the place at the time. They are passionate about the industry and passionate about people’s careers. LMRE spend time with each client to become and an extension of the business, and their transparency and core values help them grow with the sector. LMRE simplify recruitment and innovate with our clients and evolve the people driven, PropTech community.
[3:20] Tell us more about your journey: you have founded Casavo and studied globally. You’ve worked at one of the leading consultancies, Boston Consulting Group on digital transformation. Where did your passion for residential tech come from?
- I grew up in a small village close to Florence with a family of small entrepreneurs. My passion for real estate and entrepreneurship came from my dad.
- During my studies abroad I met several startups and I joined some of them as an intern.
- After my studies, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I hadn’t found that big opportunity yet so after working for 3 years in consulting, I was looking at what was happening in the residential markets globally and in Europe and there hadn’t been a lot of innovation over the last 10 years so I decided to found Casavo.
- I had a passion for the intersection between the real estate world and the technology world.
[5:15] Fausto, you started out in the marketing world and have now moved over to product as the CPO. Can you tell us a little about the product as well as how you made that transition and if you have any tips for people looking to make that transition?
- Before joining Casavo, I had a career in product and it had been mainly in travel.
- A few months after Casavo launched, Giorgio was looking for someone in marketing and I had a bit of experience in that so I decided to start at Casavo in marketing. After 2 years, it was time for serious and important investment in technology so I moved over.
- Coming from marketing, I had a lot of understanding of some dynamics and that would have been harder to get if I was just a product person.
- What we offer to the markets is the ability to receive a purchase offer on their property without any kind of human interactions.
[7:40] Who was your first major client that you brought on board?
- It’s a consumer platform, not a B2B platform.
- We really understood that in Europe, it’s a sellers’ market so there is no presentation, everything starts from the seller. We started with a very strong and disruptive value proposition in order to solve the issue of a very lengthy, inefficient, and inconvenient traditional selling process.
- We did so by changing the paradigm; proposing ourselves to buy the home directly in a matter of days, instead of going through the whole process.
- Our first clients were the first family who sold us their apartment in Milan.
[9:25] Let’s talk about your series C, you raised €200 million led by Exor Seeds. You also have some other good investors including 360 Capital, Picus Capital and Greenoaks Capital. What were some of the major challenges when you looked to raise and how did you go about it?
- There were three key challenges;
- Digitalisation in real estate is really green. The number of investors that were willing to be the first one betting on that category were few.
- We started with a very asset-heavy model that requires a certain level of understanding of the balance sheet dynamics and the residential dynamics in order to not be skirted by volatility.
- We are a leading technology company in Italy, but the ecosystem is pretty underdeveloped if you compare it to other markets.
- It always starts with the team and with a clear vision and executing that vision well.
[12:10] Why was the product so successful in Italy? You have expanded to Spain, what are the differences in what the buyers and sellers want? Do you have to change your marketing technique from country to country?
- We are the first movers with the AVM (automated valuation for models) so we were the first ones in Italy to provide free, online real-time valuations of residential properties.
- We added to that a very strong value proposition, which was you as a sender can sell immediately to us and you don’t have to look for a buyer.
- The residential stock in Italy is generally quite old and we propose to customers renovated, nice looking apartments.
- There are some differences but what we want to do is to build a European platform, a single platform in terms of product but of course, there are some local nuances both in terms of product development and in terms of marketing.
[16:35] How long does it take to buy a property in Italy?
- In terms of selling a propertyin the large, metropolitan cities in Italy, the time needed is around six months. More or less the same applies to Southern Europe in general.
[18:30] Do you have some exciting news to share with us about a potential launch into a different market?
- We have just launched in our third country, Portugal.
- We started our internationalisation journey in the beginning of 2020 in Spain.
[19:40] How have you managed to grow your headcount over 300 people and what are your cultural values?
- It was a hyper-growth journey and it still is.
- My personal mission from the beginning was to be able to have an impact on the market, be the category-defining business, but with a strong team and building really a talent hub within our markets, all sharing the same vision from the very beginning and being focused on executing on that vision.
- I was always keen on investing in human capital before technology and business.
- When you are growing at the speed of light, launching new products, new markets, you cannot afford processes. You have to trust people, you have to empower your team and let them do what they think is the best for the company.
- We have our list of values and we live and breathe them in every way:
- Focus on customers: our customers come first and we want to create long-term value for them.
- Share the drive to innovate
- Learn to adapt: continuous, direct, upfront feedback
[23:15] Is there any advice you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
- Just jump and do it – if you start to analyse everything and overthink it, it’s not going to work.
- Be optimistic – turn challenges into opportunities
[25:15] What’s next for the Casavo products? Are you planning or developing any new technologies?
- There are a lot of existing technologies that should be applied to old problems.
- The challenge is to be able to make portfolio-based decisions and market-based decisions for our investments, rather than transaction-based ones and we have to keep in mind changing consumer preferences that will affect the price properties.
[28:40] The ‘LMRE’ part, Louisa asks the guests to talk about:
1.Lessons learned in your career
- Change and self-development are very important.
2. Mention a person, product or service
- A company in the FinTech industry called Scallop.
3. Rewarding parts of working in the space
- To start with no understanding of this industry, which is very complex with a lot of incumbent players, very traditional. Thinking about how to solve problems for our customers within this industry with an out-of-the-box and naive approach.
4.What are you most Excited about for the future of the space?
- The next three to five years will lead to a substantial change in the real estate market and we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this change.
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