First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Mickael Malka: For my family and I, as well as several other families, social isolation has brought about a drastic change in routine. Spending most of the time sharing a home office and family life is challenging, especially when you have two young kids. I can tell you that the focus is on being safe, trying to do proper time management between work, family moments and entertainment.
I learned to have much more rigorous management, so today I can say that it is possible to double working time and time with the family. It’s amazing how focusing allows us to do much more with the priorities we choose. I’m French, married to an Israeli, my first son is American, and my daughter is Brazilian.
Imagine what it was like to get into the customs of each of these countries that we are traveling and even more in the pandemic period! As a family, this has been our biggest challenge to visit our relatives who still live in Paris and Tel Aviv.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you joined inGaia
Mickael Malka: I’ve been working for over 20 years in the Financial and Investment markets in the USA and Brazil.
I’m currently the Executive Chairman of inGaia, and I was also its first investor in 2010, starting a long-standing and successful partnership with the founder and CEO, José Eduardo Andrade Junior. In 2011, I assumed my executive position at the company, with direct involvement in the day to day operations.
This French-Brazilian “wedding” benefited the company a lot because we both have different expertise that complements each other.
Since my arrival, our company has received more than 50% of CAGR revenue and jumped from 8th position to undisputed leadership. In 2010 the company had only 15 employees and 200 customers, today we are 215 employees and 7,500 customers. Our growth was exponential and vertiginous.
In my professional career, I was a senior banker at HSBC, specialized in IPOs, graduated in applied mathematics from Université Paris Dauphine (FRA), and I have a Master’s degree in Economics and International Finance from Brandeis University (USA).
But I was always an entrepreneur: I created my first company at the age of 17, organizing events for young people. In 2001, at the age of 22, I sold my first company in France. A technology company focused on digital gift cards and a very pioneer for that time.
How does inGaia innovate?
Mickael Malka: Our innovations come a lot from the experience we get from our users. We’ve been training and placing the brokers as protagonists for 10 years, helping them to be more efficient, and consequently earn more commissions in their routine.
We are always developing and innovating in technological solutions and products to contribute to the growth of professionals and regional real estate in order to further empower the real estate market by reducing the bureaucracy of processes and focusing on enhancing the digitalization of the sector.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business and how are you coping?
Mickael Malka: During the pandemic, inGaia managed to break a historical sales record in June, with an increase of 83% compared to the same period last year.
Considering just that month, we signed a contract with 400 new real estate and rental managers, adding up to more than 700 service subscriptions.
Compared to May 2020, the number of sales also increased significantly by 40%. The explanation for this growth is given by the fact that the used real estate market has surprisingly overcome the crisis. In the midst of the pandemic, it went beyond the expectation of stability, taking as an example the month of June, whose sale and rental of used properties was the highest in the last five months: 17% higher than the average recorded in February when the country had not yet registered cases of Covid-19.
This information is provided by the Real Estate Market Panel created by us (Painel do Mercado Imobiliário • inGaia PMI) inGaia PMI is an exclusive inGaia dashboard that tracks the impact of the pandemic on the real estate market through our database, which, as I mentioned, currently has more than 7,500 real estate agents and 40,000 brokers.
Regarding our team of employees, inGaia, which today is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, started the home office very quickly.
Considering that our solutions are 100% online, as well as the software and work tools that are used by our operations, our move to 100% remote work caused only an “initial scare” of 3 or 4 days at most. After that and so far, we’re very impressed with the results: the whole company is even more focused and the board even more transparent. I can tell you that we have successfully made this transition.
It’s obvious that we’re missing our friends and thinking about going back to the office. But this is going to be a little further and certainly in a hybrid model. We want a working model adapted to this new reality.
The pandemic is teaching people to review their priorities, and certainly spending more time with the family is one of them. Before getting married, my philosophy was always “Work Hard & Play Hard”. Now it’s “Work Hard & Play Hard… with the people you love.”
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mickael Malka: We’re lucky not to make difficult choices at this point, as our market is looking to become 100% online as soon as possible. This has been part of our DNA for 10 years. In other words, there was no reduction in revenue, quite the opposite, as I mentioned above, only in June did we manage to beat our absolute sales record.
Regarding our employees, before they even announced the measure of social isolation in Brazil, we put all our employees working online and remotely, in their respective homes.
InGaia was one of the first companies in Campinas to have all its employees working at home. Our other attention was and still is, the remote work management of each team and about that, I can say that the great surprise was the increase in productivity and the approval of the home office by 90% of the employees.
We have always taken care of our people, regardless of the pandemic. And since it started, we have been and are still committed to giving all the necessary support to the teams, so that they are well, motivated and productive.
The biggest lesson we learned is that we needed to be more transparent in our communication, as we did not do this on a recurring basis or with the entire company. We realized that the relationship of trust between inGaia and its employees works, that being 100% online works and that directors and employees have never been so closer! InGaia is not only managing to keep all its employees motivated and productive, but it’s also managing to hire, which is very good and goes against the trend of many companies.
During this pandemic, we have already hired 12 employees. For the first time in the history of inGaia, Eduardo and I did not have face-to-face meetings with these new employees. Today, we still have 25 more open positions, which can be seen on our Gupy link.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and inGaia in the Future?
Mickael Malka: The future doesn’t depend on a pandemic situation. With the intention of rebuilding the more consumer-focused real estate market, our purpose at this point is to transform ourselves from SaaS (Software as a service) to PaaS (Platform as a service), through data generation and efficiency in the residential property market, always placing local agencies and brokers in the middle of intermediation.
Among many improvements and innovations, we are currently working on the way to help the broker to offer financial products. The purpose of this is to transform the real estate agencies into digital agencies, helping the broker to find a new way to make money, offering services to the end customer.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Mickael Malka: As I mentioned, inGaia is the largest SaaS company in Brazil, and our ecosystem is made up of over 7,500 real estate agencies, 2,500 rental managers and more than 40,000 real estate agents. Without appearing to be “French style” arrogance, but today we no longer have real competitors, inGaia was the first proptech to receive an investment of more than R$ 25 million five years ago, and this allowed us to have a technological advance as well as first-rate processes. No software company in Brazil has received such a significant contribution.
We’re the first company in this market to implement a 100% customer-centric culture, and today our CS team has 80 employees, focused on onboarding, support and portfolio management. In the coming months, we will launch a series of products and services that will design inGaia in a unique way in the ecosystem of Brazilian proptechs.
Your Final Thoughts
Mickael Malka: Be safe. Be digital. Be inGaia.
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