Spanish proptech startup Spotahome is a mid- to long-term housing rental platform geared towards people who are looking to move abroad.
The startup gives people the opportunity to fully view a flat without having to go there in person. Listings on the platform are complete with photos, a video tour of the flat and a text description, and even include a description of the neighbourhood. Renters can easily browse and book flats online, and by offering customer support in several languages, Spotahome also helps to ease the process of moving to a foreign country by eliminating language barriers between landlords and tenants.
Since launching in 2014, Spotahome has grown to serve 10 cities in Europe and employs over 280 people. Below is an interview with Bruno Bianchi, co-founder and COO of Spotahome – whose entrepreneurial journey took him from Argentina to Denmark to selling jewelry on the streets of Málaga, Spain, to co-founding one of Spain’s most successful scale-ups – on the company’s growth.
What is your background, and how did you get involved with Spotahome?
I was a sales director specialising in business development and logistics at a mid-size company in Spain, when I got put in contact with my current partners who were searching for an operations-oriented person. At the time, I was thrilled by the idea of starting something from scratch, and the opportunity to become leaders in this new space in real estate.. Plus, the founder team was perfectly balanced between business and technical profiles.
Can you tell us a bit more about Spotahome – how did the company start, and how is it different from other proptech startups?
Spotahome started back in early 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Spotahome is unique because we verify the properties published on our website by sending a “Homechecker”. This is a professional photographer who visits the property and takes high-quality and 360-degree photos, creates an HD video tour narrated in English, draws a floor plan and gathers all the information so that our copywriters can write a description of the property.
You’ve expanded to 10 cities in the past 4 years, and now employ over 280 people. What were the biggest challenges you faced while scaling?
Hiring and internal communication are top challenges when growing. It is very hard to hire at the required pace and keep the bar high. You can be tempted to hire the wrong person just because you need someone immediately. Then, it is very difficult to avoid silos – teams that work in isolation from one another which can lead to duplication of tasks due to lack of communication. At Spotahome we use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to align everyone towards the company’s goals and build transparency.
What are your responsibilities as COO?
After doing business development, growth-hacker marketing and pure process operations, at the moment I am focused on the supply side of our marketplace. I currently manage the regional teams, which are divided geographically; and the sales operations team that organises the tools and defines the processes to support the acquisition and retention of our landlords.
If you could go back and do things over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
When you are fundraising there is always a struggle between short- and mid-term results. At the beginning you need to show traction – a measurable set of users to show that your business is going places – but that may be at the expense of customer satisfaction and product development. It is important to avoid spreading yourself too thin and to let the technical teams develop the best product, with enough bandwidth to quickly iterate new developments.
You raised $25 million Series A in 2017, and a $40 million Series B round back in June led by Kleiner Perkins, the first time a Silicon Valley fund has invested in a Spanish startup. What advice would you give to other startups looking to raise funds?
Be passionate about your business and never stop trying to get everyone else excited about it. Try to convince and involve successful entrepreneurs and founders that can not only invest in you, but also open up their networks to you. Always connect with people that can help you now or in the future, never close a door.
What is your company culture like, and how does it influence your success?
Back in 2017 we did an exercise to define our mission, vision and values across the teams. We asked each member of our team where they saw Spotahome in 1, 5, 10 and 20 years time from now. We also asked them to propose values that described us. We put together all the responses and organised it into our mission, our vision and eight core values. This is a key activity that you need to do as you scale quickly and new people join your team. In our case, we constantly mention the values that define our culture, to help our team to take decisions and to hire correctly.
In terms of our culture, we are a customer-centric organisation. We are innovative, strive for simplicity and work with a high level of trust among the teams. Spotahome has a vibrant work environment, the company is quite young and this is reflected in the fact employees get along both on a professional and personal level. It means Spotahome has a very fun and always inspiring culture.
What markets are you planning to expand to in the future?
All over the world 🙂
Where do you see SpotaHome in 3-4 years?
I see Spotahome present in 5 continents, revolutionising the real estate industry forever.