One of the most exciting success stories of the last two years in the greek startup ecosystem is Prosperty. A proptech company that was created, developed and established in the field of real estate in the midst of a pandemic, changing the status quo of decades in Greece and disrupting a traditional market, with the advantage of technology, innovation and the unique philosophy of its founders.
Antonis Markopoulos, Nikos Patsiogiannis and Antonis Despotakis explain to STARTUPPER MAG how Prosperty managed to develop in record time into a leader of such a demanding and complex market, for the challenges they faced and for their next steps towards its international expansion.
S.M. Recently Prosperty raised a new seed funding of 3.3 million euros, while this was preceded by a pre-seed funding of 1.1 million euros in March 2020.How did a proptech startup specialized in the field of real estate within manage to gain, within18 months, the trust of three of the largest technological venture funds in Greece and well-known angel investors ?
Ant. Markopoulos: First of all, we are honored that, as far as we know, we are the only startup that secured funding from three VC Equifund (Velocity, Metavallon, BigPi). This indicates confidence in Prosperty’s team and in the industry in which the company operates. The size of the Real Estate market is particularly large even at a local level, let alone at a European level.
It is a market that touches the whole world, regardless of age or social and economic stratification. Despite the size of the real estate market, technologically there is a terrible lag in the part of transparency and validity of data (real estate listings), reliable and timely customer service and procedures completion speed.
The need to digitize all the procedures both for the rental of a property, which seemingly should be an easier process, and for the purchase of a property, which is a stressful, time-consuming and costly process, is absolutely a given. So our investors see, as we do, a huge gap in the market. The digitization of a market that in our country is approaching tens of billions of euros in total through Prosperty can create serious capital gains.
S.M. With the dynamics and the new funding, Prosperty has the potential to accelerate even more its growth in Greece, but also its entry into other European countries, where there are many prospects. What is your plan for expanding into new markets?
Ant. Markopoulos: The new funding will be directed towards the establishment of Prosperty as the leader in the field of digital real estate, so we want in the coming years Prosperty to become the benchmark for all citizens of the country for the real estate sector, and secondly is to expand to a next one, perhaps to another one after that.Very soon we will announce our entry into Cyprus, which has a fairly large part of real estate – this will be done before the end of 2021– followed by the expansion in early 2022 to neighbouring markets.
We look with great interest at the Italian market, we also look at the Romanian market, which have – both markets – similar challenges in the field of real estate, but they are two markets with a significantly large size and can give a goodwill to our company.
S.M. How much will help your European expansion the fact that Prosperty is already considered a leader in the digital transformation of real estate in the Greek market, offering a completely new, digital user experience?
Ant. Markopoulos: Greece, although for the Western world is considered as a medium market in terms of size – if you compare it with markets such as Spain, Germany, France due to the large bureaucracy it is considered the most difficult and challenging market in Europe today. So imagine if we manage to digitize the procedures in our country, which is considered and is one of the most bureaucratic markets, how much simpler it is for us to expand European as well.
This is something that the foreign investors also tell us: “If you manage to succeed in a very difficult business environment such as your country, it will be an easier process to then expand into markets that are more structured and more digitally ready.” Greece is a huge opportunity for us. An opportunity to convince that our company can stand in the most difficult environment for the real estate industry.
S.M. How do you plan to use the new funding for the Greek market, where you already have a huge potential?
N. Patsiogiannis: The new funding will be directed to three main pillars and directions. The first is in the field of human resources, so in the next period we proceed to recruitment in various roles and levels, with great emphasis on both the technology and the product, as well as on the communication part.
Therefore, Prosperty enters dynamically in the part of the partner network, bringing many innovations both in the part of customer approach and tools, as well as in the value proposition that we give to new customers. The second pillar is in the field of technology and the new product, where we have a very specific product roadmap, which we will evolve in the coming period in terms of our marketplace part, but also in technological applications and data that have to do with institutional investors.
The third direction in which our funding will be directed is in the communication part. Therefore, you will see Prosperty much more dynamically and with great extroversion in the near future, both in traditional and digital media, so that we can communicate – in Greece and abroad – both our services and the properties we promote.
S.M. What do you think is Prosperty’s main advantage over the competition of both traditional real estate groups and digitally oriented companies?
N. Patsiogiannis: Prosperty is essentially based on certain values and uses technology so that it can improve the basic pathogenies that exist in the real estate market. That is the main advantage. The basic premise (and the basic promise we would say, that we give as a company) is on the part of transparency.
Every property that goes up on the platform has been checked by us and we give a series of detailed information and means to the prospective buyer, so that the prospective buyer is able to evaluate the property.
The second is that we give tremendously great convenience at all levels. From the finding part to the evaluation part and the part of visiting and closing a property, Prosperty gives end-to-end services, making this digital “hand-holding”, with which we help the local or foreign buyer to move with great safety and confidence in an important choice of his life, which is the purchase.
The third (and this last part differentiates us) is that of managing a large number of real estate portfolios. Therefore, our technological infrastructure, automations and the general structure of our company enable us to manage with great efficiency a large number of real estate portfolios. And this makes us an ideal partner for large institutional investors.
S.M. What services, both to individuals and corporate customers, does Prosperty offer today through its innovative platform?
Ant. Despotakis: One of our most basic services is that we facilitate the purchase or rental of property both on the part of the owner and the interested party. The purchase of a property, as you know, is time consuming and costly for anyone interested. Instead of being a beautiful experience, when you consider that it is perhaps the most important purchase in human life, it ends up being one of the most stressful, time-consuming processes. The average time to buy a property in Greece can exceed 7-8 months!
Prosperty is coming to change that. We want to be the one-stop-shop, both for the part of buying or leasing a property, as well as for at least the part of the pre-approval of a financing of it.So we are working towards this direction: We are building an ecosystem around the property, that is not limited to the actual act of a property, as well as to financial and insurance services that we recently announced with Anytime and the Interamerican Group.
A very important service that exists in the field of real estate is financing. Today, in order to receive a financing of a property, one must visit a bank branch, or go to two or more. We want to change that.We want to provide a reliable procedure for anyone interested who wants to apply for a loan pre-approval, so that they can submit the basic data through our platform and we – in cooperation with both systemic and other banks – can provide them with a very quick proposal.
S.M. Prosperty’s platform is both user-friendly and state-of-the-art, as it is based on state-of-the-art technologies and data analytics. How important is data for the development of the platform and the improvement of its services?
Ant. Despotakis: Thank you for your comment, indeed our entire team is devoting valuable time to create the most powerful mechanism for collecting and analyzing data,
both on the real estate supply side and on the demand side.
We are working towrads a direction so that anyone looking for a property, with specific characteristics, whether the property belongs to the Prosperty platform or not, our company is the benchmark. We use tools that collect information about user behavior on our site and work continuously to improve the user experience.
We automate processes and build tools that combine market data with valuation models, in order to give our operation, but also to the buyer and seller a very good picture of the real value of a property, as well as complex reports and data analytics for the real estate market. Our goal is within a few days to find the right property for everyone interested.
S.M. Based on your experience since the company’s founding to date, what do you think of the impact of the pandemic on the real estate sector?
Ant. Markopoulos: There are both positive and negative effects from the pandemic. I’ll start with the positive ones. It is widely understood that the world in the era of Covid-19 is looking for more and more digital services, the least physical interaction, the fewest contacts, the best service from a digital world.
So essentially from the point of view of the buyer and the seller, who are looking either to sell, or to buy, or to lease, if Prosperty manages this and implements it in the best possible digital way, then we are leaning on the heart, on the needs of the Covid-19 era.
On the other hand, many people wanted to sell, as well as rent, their properties and are hesitant to accept people as much as we try to digitize their services. With digital means we also provide 360o services, with which the user can enter the property virtually inside the property and walk or have a tour by a cooperating seller.
However, the culture and education of people in Greece is to see photos of classified sites before they go to see the property. The physical presence of visiting a property still exists though. At Prosperty we provide all the technological means to finally make the transaction on a property fully digital.
S.M. How do you approach the issue of your talents and partners in the light of your rapid growth? What are the benefits and opportunities to work with you?
Ant. Markopoulos: The process of finding people, talented human resources, is one of the most important processes that an emerging company in Greece has to do.
For our company, the people who make it up are its real property. We are happy that our technological and product team is constantly growing with the advent of talented partners, who with their technical skills and creativity design and implement new functionalities for Prosperty’s applications.
Prosperty is the first company that comes to disrupt a traditional industry, an industry that every Greek citizen has in his blood. What we’re saying to our partners is that they need to believe in Prosperty’s vision as a startup, and I think we’re earning that in the contact we have with people in the market.
Nowadays, our human resources are a canvas of different people (from developers, back offices to marketing and sales) who show a strong interest in technology and the real estate market. Technology is the key piece of our company’s DNA. We are very proud that our team is constantly being trained in new systems, which design a completely different experience in the real estate market.