Georg Chmiel, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Juwai IQI Group tells us about empowering Asians to be global residents.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Georg Chmiel: We are all surviving. I know that many people have it worse than we do, and I feel for them.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Juwai IQI Group.
Georg Chmiel: I was Executive Chairman of Juwai before the merger with IQI. Now, at the combined Juwai IQI, my primary goal is to help provide the conditions for us to continue improving our technological platform and thus accelerate growth.
I have a long career in fast-growing technology companies. I am currently Chairman of ASX-listed iCar Asia (ASX: ICQ). I served as Managing Director of iProperty Group in earlier roles, where I helped oversee the largest online advertising merger in ASEAN history.
While I was Chief Financial Officer and General Manager International at REA Group Ltd (ASX: REA), its market capitalization climbed from $100 million to $1.6 billion.
How does Juwai IQI Group innovate?
Georg Chmiel: Juwai IQI transacted 55% more transactions in 2020 than in 2019. We could not have grown that quickly without a great deal of innovation and the smart use of technology. We have found ways to do just about everything digitally, from real estate marketing to sales to property management.
Our primary focus for innovation and new technology is our platform, which ties together our super app, portals, and agent network so that the whole is greater than the parts. The platform provides our more than 15,000 real estate agents with powerful tools to enable them to be more productive and effective.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Georg Chmiel: Despite the global coronavirus pandemic, Juwai IQI achieved profitability as of July 2020. Thanks to our team’s hard work, we transacted 55% more transactions in 2020 than the year before and registered a 72% growth in aggregate transaction value.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Georg Chmiel: There have been some difficult moments, yes. Even so, what impressed me most was our team’s resilience. The pandemic has reinforced to us the importance of having the best possible people on the team and empowering them to move fast and get things done.
During the year, we were lucky enough to bring on some talented executives with unique skills in real estate technology and related sectors. iProperty Group founder Leon Kong joined in August as General Manager of Online Advertising Solutions. Also on the leadership team is Cindy Chow, Executive Director of the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund.
We also tripled our team of real estate agents from 5,000 in mid-2019 to 15,000 by the end of 2020. That growth was both organic and via acquisitions and partnerships.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Georg Chmiel: Like everyone else, our customer relationships became much more virtual in 2020. Zoom, WhatsApp, WeChat… whatever tool worked best for each customer, we used it to stay in touch with our customers despite lockdowns and travel bans.
Your final thoughts?
Georg Chmiel: We are going through a time of difficulty but also of opportunity. We are cautiously optimistic about the future. Thank you for your questions.