SoftBank mints QuintoAndar a new unicorn in Latin American real estate tech – gpgmail


QuintoAndar, the Brazilian real estate technology developer, has secured a massive $250 million Series D led by SoftBank, as the Japanese conglomerate continues to deploy its $5 billion commitment to the Latin American region. The round is the latest sign that startups in Latin America can get money if they’re developing technologies in specific areas that are massive painpoints for the geography’s nascent middle class.

QuintoAndar invented a marketplace that lets users search, book, rent and advertise rental properties in Brazil. The site manages listings and visits, transaction processing between tenants and landlords, and houses the digital contracts that bind these agreements together. QuintoAndar also developed a credit analysis system that negates the need for co-signers, deposits and rental insurance – barriers that have historically blocked deal flow in this industry.

Co-founder and CEO Gabriel Braga says QuintoAndar has now entered unicorn territory thanks to the SoftBank-led round. Dragoneer also participated, as well as return investors General Atlantic and Kaszek (which recently announced a fresh $600 million fund of its own). 

QuintoAndar, which literally translates from Portuguese to English as “fifth floor,” is an example of a Brazilian startup solving Brazilian problems. Those seeking long-term rentals in big cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are throttled by bureaucratic policies that enforce expensive deposits, co-signer requirements and skyscraper-high insurance fees. On the supply side, amateur landlords are tunnel visioned on making money from transactions, creating a terrible customer service experience for tenants, along with wasted hours of apartment hunting. QuintoAndar is billing itself as a modernized fix that lets users search, book, rent and advertise rental properties in Brazil. 

The startup, which has grown into a 1,000 person São Paulo-based operation has now amassed a total of $345 million to date, including a $64 million Series C led by General Atlantic that closed just nine months ago. Braga declined to confirm the exact valuation of QuintoAndar, but says that it has crossed the threshold of billion dollar status. The company was founded in 2013. 

Why is this long term rentals startup accumulating so much capital? Brazilians are seeing home ownership as less of a long-term goal and are opting to rent, meaning more money in the bank and freedom to relocate. This, the founder believes, creates a big opportunity to make renting more efficient in a country where 62% of Brazilians are aged 29 or under, according to this review. Brazil’s population of 211,000,000 people has proven a hungry enough market for a startup like QuintoAndar to turn profitable, and to attract foreign investors like SoftBank. Co-founders André Penha and Braga were able to leverage these massive foreign investment checks to create a specific product to help generate liquidity for users in its home market. 

Braga says the company doesn’t measure success by volume of users or its newly minted unicorn status, but by number of property visits carried out on QuintoAndar. The company is projecting over 2 million visits scheduled through its platform in 2019, and is seeing 4,500 contracts signed per month. The CEO attributes QuintoAndar’s popularity to its ease of use, and the fact that the renting service is generating liquidity for brokers and sellers in the Brazilian long term rentals market. 

With the new funding, Braga intends to strengthen QuintoAndar’s userbase by acquiring new customers in more cities across Brazil. The company also intends to attract new talent and build out broker partnerships. In the long term, QuintoAndar envisions launching more financial products for its customers, and eventually using its suite of data to make recommendations for services like home renovations. 

QuintoAndar now joins Nubank, Loggi, Gympass and Stone in the growing club of billion dollar Brazilian tech companies, but its founder is more interested in keeping the momentum going than celebrating entrance into the Latin American unicorn club. “I’m more focused on the long term mission that we have, and not overly excited about being a unicorn. Tomorrow’s another day, we have to keep working,” says Braga. 


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Top VCs on the changing landscape for enterprise startups – gpgmail


Yesterday at gpgmail’s Enterprise event in San Francisco, we sat down with three venture capitalists who spend a lot of their time thinking about enterprise startups. We wanted to ask what trends they are seeing, what concerns they might have about the state of the market, and of course, how startups might persuade them to write out a check.

We covered a lot of ground with the investors — Jason Green of Emergence Capital, Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures, and Maha Ibrahim of Canaan Partners — who told us, among other things, that startups shouldn’t expect a big M&A event right now, that there’s no first-mover advantage in the enterprise realm, and why grit may be the quality that ends up keeping a startup afloat.

On the growth of enterprise startups:

Jason Green: When we started Emergence 15 years ago, we saw maybe a few hundred startups a year, and we funded about five or six. Today, we see over 1,000 a year; we probably do deep diligence on 25.


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Will this tech close on never-ending real estate waiting periods? – gpgmail


The most anticipated part of every real estate transaction is being done with it.

Every seller looks forward to the moment of closing: the period where all involved parties put a bow on the sale and the keys get handed over to the happy new owners. The closing is by nature the most complicated part of the proceedings. The task of tying together every loose end and officially sealing the deal can end up dragging on and on, a proceeding somewhat at odds with today’s lightning-paced business environment.

There’s also the fact that, for an everyday homebuyer unaccustomed to the ins and outs of real estate purchases, the process shuts them out and leaves them waiting.

It’s a bit ironic that an industry that’s been streamlined through tech in so many ways has left its most complex aspect nearly untouched. Today’s real estate customer has an amazing number of tools at hand to make the process easier for them. They can trawl the web to find the ideal neighborhood for their new dwelling or business, skim through listings on multiple websites (complete with floor plans and detailed photo albums) and deal directly with sellers or landlords to eliminate traditional brokers’ fees. The front end of the process has become nearly painless. It’s the back end, getting to the finish line, where many find that the speed they were previously enjoying has slowed to a crawl.

Many readers may now be thinking: If closings are simultaneously incredibly important but also incredibly immobile and opaque, isn’t there a better way to make it happen? As with many other long-standing speed bumps in business and elsewhere, the tech community has come forth with several different attempts at a solution. A number of competing startups have produced tools that claim to bring this month-plus process down to a much more manageable time frame. 2018 saw two prominent attempts at becoming the top dog in this niche get nearer to the top: Modus, formed by vets of food-delivery startup Peach, and JetClosing, which closed a $20 million round of funding after two years of existence.

While each company’s founders can likely enumerate their differences better than I could, the services perform essentially the same task: shrinking closing times from the 44-day average down to a more manageable span. They do this thanks to the communicative powers of the internet, cutting down waiting time by enabling several different steps to happen at once.

Some hoary old standbys may be in for a rude awakening.

Much of the closing process is done by rote, so there’s room for automation — as long as every step is open and transparent. The potential for legal hiccups is lessened when tech tools can assure everyone is on the same page. JetClosing even throws in a title scoring system to sweeten the deal.

The big-bucks excitement over these companies’ potential is the clearest signal possible that the industry is on the precipice of a transformation. When it comes to title and escrow and other financial details that snag real estate closings, the involved parties are often long-standing institutions with little interest in making their work more transparent. Thanks to the expected rise of closing-quickening tech, some hoary old standbys may be in for a rude awakening. But it may be the case that real estate won’t be the only beneficiary of these new software rollouts.

It stands to reason that if these startups can fix the logjam in real estate closings, there are more ways businesses of all types can take advantage of their process-management tools. The mind wanders: Perhaps even onerous courtroom procedures can use an injection of smart technology to bring down waiting times for trial lawyers and defendants. If the legal hurdles involved in keeping a big-money real estate transaction both fast and transparent can be negotiated, why not apply the same tactics to the achingly slow process of appeals courts? With the use of cloud-based tech inhabiting more and more of public life, it’s not too far-fetched an idea.

In the world of real estate, we may finally be entering an era when the once-meandering part of the process is as easy as turning the keys for the first time. There’s sure to be near-universal interest on the part of all involved to speed up closing; after all, each are likely champing at the bit to either move in to their new space or get paid for their former property. With so much competition to be the go-to closing handling service, it seems clear that no matter who wins that battle, both buyers and sellers will end up feeling victorious.


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Is Knotel poised to turn WeWork from a Unicorn into an Icarus? – gpgmail


The day of reckoning for the ‘flexible office space as a startup’ is coming, and it’s coming up fast. WeWork’s IPO filing has fired the starting gun on the race to become the game-changer both in the future of property and real estate but also the future of how we live and work. As Churchill once said, ‘we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us’.

Until recently WeWork was the ruler by which other flexible space startups were measured, but questions are now being asked if it deserves its valuation. The profitable IWG plc, formerly Regus, has been a business providing serviced offices, virtual offices, meeting rooms, and the rest, for years and yet WeWork is valued by ten times more.

That’s not to mention how it exposes landlords to $40 billion in rent commitments, something which a few of them are starting to feel rather nervous about.

Some analysts even say WeWork’s IPO is a ‘masterpiece of obfuscation’


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RedDoorz raises $70M to expand its budget hotel network in Southeast Asia – gpgmail


Singapore-based budget hotel booking startup RedDoorz is tiny in comparison to fast-growing giant Oyo. But it is holding its ground and winning the trust of an ever growing number of investors.

On Monday, the four-year-old startup announced it has raised $70 million in Series C round, less than five months after it closed its $45 million Series B. The new round, which is ongoing, was led by Asia Partners and saw participation from new investors Rakuten Capital and Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund.

The startup, which has raised $140 million to date, was seeing “tremendous interest from investors, so it is decided to do a back-to-back rounds,” said Amit Saberwal, founder and CEO of RedDoorz, in an interview with gpgmail.

Regardless, the new funds will help RedDoorz fight SoftBank-backed Oyo, which is already aggressively expanding to new markets. Oyo currently operates in more than 80 nations.

RedDoorz operates a marketplace of “two-star, three-star and below” budget hotels, selling access to rooms to people. Currently it has 1,400 hotels on its network, said Saberwal.

The startup operates in 80 cities across Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam, and plans to use the new capital to expand its network in its existing markets, said Saberwal. At least for the next one year, RedDoorz has no plans to expand beyond the four markets where it currently operates, he said.

“Anything in the accommodation is our playground. We have all kinds of properties. We have three-star hotels, some hostels, so we will continue to go deeper and wider moving forward,” he said.

More to follow shortly…


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India’s Awfis raises $30M to grow its co-working spaces business – gpgmail


Speaking of businesses that operate co-working spaces in India, New Delhi-based startup Awfis announced today that it has raised $30 million in a new financing round to expand its footprint in the country.

The Series D round for the four-year-old startup was led by ChrysCapital. Existing investors Sequoia Capital India and The Three Sisters Institutional Office also participated in the round, the startup said. Awfis has raised $81 million to date.

Awfis operates in nine cities in India and has 63 centers. It currently has the capacity to accommodate 30,000 people across its centers. In an interview with gpgmail, Amit Ramani, founder and CEO of Awfis, said the startup will use the capital to add about 340 centers to accommodate 170,000 more people in the next one year and a half.

The startup currently operates two models: It works with landowners to use their workspaces and splits profits with them, and second, it serves as a management operator where it takes a cut of the revenue as its fee. Ramani did not disclose the financial performance of Awfis, but said the startup is aiming to go public in 2022.

Most of its customers today are either small businesses or corporate clients. Some of its customers include Vodafone, Reliance, Hitachi, Zomato, and Practo . It also offers a mobility solution for individuals who want to work from Awfis’ workspaces.

Kshitij Sheth, VP of ChrysCapital, told gpgmail in an interview that India is finally beginning to see a major boom in the co-working spaces culture. He said his team was impressed by Awfis’ quality services, business model, and ratings from customers.

India’s co-working space, still a relatively new business category in the nation, is worth $390 million — a fraction of the $30 billion office and commercial real estate business. Awfis today competes with a number of startups including GoWork, which announced $53 million in a debt financing round earlier today, 91Springboard, GoHive, and the global giant WeWork.

Fast-growing hotel lodging startup Oyo also recently entered the co-working spaces business with the launch of Oyo Workspaces. For the expansion, it acquired local player Innov8 for a sum of about $30 million to immediately establish presence in 10 cities in India with more than 20 centers.

But the competition does not necessarily worry Ramani, who said the market today remains largely untapped. “Competition is great. It helps educate the market. People have more choices.” Ramani is happy to compete with others on quality and service front, he said.


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India’s GoWork raises $53M in debt financing to expand its co-working spaces business – gpgmail


GoWork, a Gurgaon-based startup that runs a co-working spaces business in India, said on Tuesday it has raised $53 million in a debt round to scale its business in the country as competition in the market, including from recent entrant Oyo Rooms, intensifies.

The debt round for the two-year-old startup — not to be confused with an Indonesian startup with the same name that operates in the same space — was financed by a private fund managed by BlackRock’s Private Credit team and CLSA Capital Partners’ Special Situations Group, the startup said. Prior to today’s announcement, GoWork had raised an undisclosed amount from Nimitaya fund, a spokesperson told gpgmail.

Sudeep Singh, CEO of GoWork, said the startup will use the fresh capital, which will flow for the next two years, to expand its footprints in the country. GoWork plans to establish 50 centers across several major Indian cities by 2025, up from two it currently runs in Gurgaon.

In the immediate quarters, it plans to expand its accommodation capacity to 25,000 people, up from 12,000 currently. GoWork counts corporates such as Paytm Mall, CoverFox, and Impactify Consulting among its clients.

In addition to fast Wi-Fi, shuttle service, parking facility, cafe, and food court services it currently offers, the startup plans to include additional add-ons such as pet care facility and brewery in the coming months.

In a statement, Neeraj Seth, BlackRock’s Head of Asian Credit, said, “GoWork is taking the brick and mortar aspect of the co-working concept further, as well as consistent measures to enable young businesses to reach their highest potential. We look forward to GoWork offering optimal operational efficiency for all start-ups as well as corporates.”

India’s co-working space, still a relatively new business category locally, is worth $390 million — a fraction of the $30 billion office and commercial real estate business.

GoWork competes with a number of firms including hotel lodging startup Oyo, which last month entered the co-working spaces business with the launch of Oyo Workspaces. For the expansion, it acquired local player Innov8 for a sum of about $30 million to immediately establish presence in 10 cities in India with more than 20 centers. 91Springboard, Awfis, GoHive, and the global giant WeWork are also competing for a slice of the $390 million market.


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Scottish spaceport closer to launch after land lease signed – gpgmail


Plans to open a new spaceport in Sutherland in Scotland have moved closer to final approval: The real estate companies working on the deal have signed a 75-year lease for the land to be used for Space Hub Sutherland, which will look to launch small satellites via private launch services from companies including startup Orbex, a micro-launch startup founded in 2015, and Lockheed Martin.

The land lease is still dependent on final approval being given for the spaceport to be built, which is in process as the groups behind its development, including the UK Space Agency, are in process of working out the designs, funding and environmental impact studies. All of this will contribute to an overall planning application, which the partners are hoping will pave the way for construction to begin in 2020.

Sutherland isn’t the only spaceport the UK is looking to open in an effort to open up its commercial launch capabilities: There are also plans in the works to open one in Cornwall, with support and funding from both the UKSA and Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit.


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