A marketplace is a platform that allows providers to list a product/service and interested individuals (buyers) acquiring the offering either socially (by getting advise, exploring multiple listing options and comparing them) or economically (through exchange of currency). In marketplaces, buyers can be providers and providers can be buyers. This reversal of roles leads to greater productivity since the eco-system leads to great feedback which in turn improves user experience. Kiriza primarily is a real estate marketplace that aims to imitate what the IT Industry did when it crossed over to other industries. Backed by creativity, Kiriza aims to improve the Real Estate Industry in Tanzania, before crossing over into sectors that for years have involved Real Estate to successfully operate and function. Furthermore, Kiriza being a private business plans to work hand in hand with the Government and other Private Firms such as Property Development, Home Staging and (Interior Design) Companies to realise its dream.
After extensive research that started in November, 2016. These are the identified problems in Real Estate in Tanzania. They are broken down based on the customer segments.
Property Managers/Agents/Agencies: They have to hunt down leads, schedule prospect tours/visits under the scorching sun that result to nothing. High operational costs incurred and direct competition from Unlicensed Agents locally known as Dalalis. High jacking of Properties among Real Estate Professionals, this fear our potential customers have is affecting Kiriza’s growth too. Most buyers don’t have background information in Real Estate; hence Listing Providers have to spend a lot of time educating them before beginning transactional talks.
Property Owners/Sellers: Lack of Real Estate background to properly value their properties. Lack of transparency between Owners and Licensed Real Estate Professionals, especially when it comes to finding customers. Most Owners don’t update Real Estate Professionals when they sell their properties, and only inform them after they (Professionals) have spent substantial sums of money to market these properties, chase leads and convert prospects into buying customers.
Properties that operate in the “fast economy” such as Conference Halls or Meeting Rooms don’t receive the special attention and end up getting lost in platforms that advertise residential or commercial properties more.
Buyers: Lack of Real Estate Information which prolongs social interactions between Listing Providers and Buyers. Unlicensed Agents occasionally hike prices, sell one property to more than one customer hence causing land/property wrangles with court cases that take years to end. Buyers have to physically move from one property to another and it usually takes them days to find what they want; and upon finding what they want, Unlicensed Agents demand payment within 48 hours with false statements stating that they will lose the property to other people, if they don’t pay. It is difficult to find a property or venue to host an event (such as birthday party, engagement and retreats) that is affordable, many people are forced to opt to restaurants, resorts or expensive hotels.
Service Providers: Those who are starting up, or don’t market themselves well fail to stand out and be noticed by customers who desperately need their services. At the end of the day, they are forced to resort to wrong methods to make money for themselves and their families.
Validation was done through a methodology coined at Toyota, in Japan called Genchi Gembutsu which in English translates to “Go and See for Yourself” Based on this method, it of paramount importance that one understands the business problem, not take anything for granted and simply not just rely on other people’s reports based on their research.
I took time to approach each potential customer segment to understand their needs, problems, challenges and demands. This was done through surveying professionals in their offices, questioning relatives, family friends and their friends, and experiencing the hardships of acquiring a rental property first hand.
Advantages of Kiriza
After doing research in Tanzania, these are the advantages Kiriza offers:
- Listing at Kiriza is free with Premium Services which are aimed to help the Listing Providers stand out both in the Online and Offline World. Some of these services are Offline Brand and Property Promotion; Property SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Website Analysis.
- A Booking Calendar which allows prospects and customers to schedule tours on a listed property.
- Kiriza Basic and Extended Statistics to keep up to date Real Estate Professionals on Online Consumer Trends. Google Analytics and Mixpanel will play a big role in capturing and tracking this data.
- Youtility services such as Location Information and Social Media Hashtags to interact with both Listing Providers and Final Buyers; for example, Home Design by Kiriza (used to answer customer questions about their homes) and Kiriza Suggests on Twitter (to answer general Real Estate Questions).
- High Friction measures to ensure that only Licensed Professionals are listing on Kiriza.
- Strict Property Review before being published for buyers and prospects to see.
- Provision of an opportunity to Licensed Real Estate Professionals to stand out through articles which educate the final buyers about Real Estate before they initiate the first conversation with them.
- Property Comparison which enables buyers to easily decide on which property to purchase or rent when in a dilemma.
- A vast list of property types such as Hold, Active with Contingency and Active with Kickout (and their explanations) to further inform the final buyer the status of a property before engaging with its representative. This also helps the Property Representative not to receive calls or messages on properties that are just about to be sold off.
- A social media channel on Telegram through which buyers can freely ask Real Estate Questions ask for Referrals before dealing with a Property Representative and get advice before committing to buying or renting a property.
- Real Estate Calculators which can be used to estimate costs such as Mortgage Costs.
- The ability of a Listing Provider to list properties based on his target customers’ preferred currency. Over 12 currencies are present at Kiriza. Furthermore, an up to date currency converter is available for use at Kiriza.
Just as problems were broken down based on user segments, so will the solutions.
Property Managers/Agents/Agencies: Creation of an Online Real Estate Forum through which they will be able to interact as professionals, ask for referrals and relate to other professionals such as Investors, Bankers, Valuers, Quantity Surveyors, Real Estate Developers, Construction Managers and Mortgage Analysts. Kiriza Statistics and Kiriza Extended Statistics which will inform them which areas or properties are receiving more traffic. Customer Feedback from customers will also be communicated to them so that they can match Demand with Wanted Supply. Premium Services offered at Kiriza which help them to Stand Out and be able to compete against Unlicensed Agents who hold a large market share of customers.
Property Owners/Sellers: Encouragement of this segment of users to rely and constantly get professional assistance from Licensed Real Estate Professionals who are listing on Kiriza. This includes consulting them and assigning properties to them to transact on their behalf. Self-help information in Kiriza’s Support related to Real Estate so that they can make decisions based on credible knowledge and not wits. Kiriza’s partnership with Interior Designers, Property Developers and Statisticians to provide valuable knowledge to Owners of Properties especially if they are located in areas whose development has led to more demand for Office Space than Residential Buildings. To solve the problem of properties that convert faster (such as Conference Halls, Tents and Meeting Rooms) being ‘swallowed up’ or disappearing in residential, commercial and industrial listings, they will have their own platform whereby their owners will be able to exploit these properties full potential.
Final Buyers: To promote trust, only Licensed Real Estate Professionals and Service Providers will be allowed to list properties and services respectively on Kiriza. A payment gateway will be introduced such that if a buyer is no longer optimistic about the transaction (within a certain period of time), she can request for a refund.
Buyers have the option to compare properties on Kiriza, read reviews before renting a place, have access to Location Information before moving to a new area, well-detailed information on properties, different property status and a social media channel (Kiriza Official for English Communication and Kiriza Rasmi for Swahili Communication).
Service Providers: Similar to listings that convert fast, service providers will have their own section through which homeowners will be able to socially and economically interact with them so as to create value. This section focuses strictly on home services such as a new way to design homes. It targets homeowner (or those to be) by proving them with Interior Design photos, Home Decor, Decorating ideas and skilled individuals who deal in home design, repair, maintenance and other services. Furthermore, in the process of building a community, homeowners will have the option to receive social value from the service and product providers before exchanging economic value. For starters, Kiriza will begin with Professionals who deal in services and Interior Design (Staging) before venturing into listing home appliances, equipment and tools. Eventually, Kiriza will be delivering these products from the providers to their home location.
Our traction will be aimed to promote user interactions among Property Managers, Agents, Agencies; Property Owners, Sellers; Service Providers and Final Buyers of Properties, Land and Home Services.
To be able to gain sustainable traction, Kiriza will utilize engines of growth which will be the basis of traction. Some of these methods are:
- Friend of Mine Awareness.
- Internet Marketing (Search Engine Marketing, Referral Program and Social Media Marketing).
- Search Engine Optimization.
- Growth Hack Marketing.
- Brand Advocates Techniques.