We talked to Sébastien Marion of Kasaz about its real-estate portal centered across buyers’ experience and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sébastien Marion: Very well!
My wife happens to be Taiwanese, and since my team is now fully remote, my wife and I decided to take the opportunity to bring the family to Taiwan for a while. We have been here for 6 months and have been able to enjoy a COVID-free life since.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Kasaz.
Sébastien Marion: I hold a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Kent (UK).
During my last year at University, I started a couple of companies with some friends. One failed spectacularly as we were inexperienced and made many mistakes, and the other one – Comufy – morphed into what became probably the world’s most scalable CRM system at the time. We helped online games manage and retain their users in a way that was not possible before.
Eventually, we started to work with a lot of big players, and in 2014, we were bought by King.com, the company behind Candy Crush.
As part of the earnout, we were required to work in Barcelona for 2 years. While looking for a home, I realized how inefficient the market is: duplicated properties, incorrect information, scams, etc.
Eventually, I could not take it anymore, and I decided to found Kasaz to fix what I saw as the shortcomings of not just the other real-estate portals but the entire transaction process.
How does Kasaz innovate?
Sébastien Marion: We are the first real-estate portal to really be centered around the buyer’s experience.
Other portals out there tend to care more about the seller, but we think that there is a large opportunity opened if we are capable of creating a portal that buyers truly love: a portal that has reliable information and that adapts to them.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sébastien Marion: When the crisis really came in full effect some 12 months ago, we were raising money, and needless to say, the timing was not great.
2020 was supposed to be the year when we really increased revenue, and that too became difficult.
So instead, we decided to go for growth and made a special “covid offer” with an aggressive 6 months free service for new customers, which allowed us to grow our inventory 15x in the space of 12 months.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sébastien Marion: We had to make some hard choices.
Due to our aggressive offer and the difficult financial situation that our clients were facing, revenue was lagging far behind.
First, we surrendered our office and embraced a fully remote work culture.
Second, we had to furlough some employees and reduce the salary of all of our staff.
Personally, I had to go yet another year without a salary, and this, combined with supporting the company with some loans, made a serious dent in my finances.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Sébastien Marion: We use Slack to keep the team connected, and a whole range of tools such as Github for development and ticketing, Google Meet for external meetings, Trello, Nuclino for the intranet, etc.
We are an agile company, have daily standup, weekly all-hands meetings, weekly management meetings, etc.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Our competitors are the big established real-estate portals. In Spain, that’s Idealista, Fotocasa and Habitaclia.
Your final thoughts?
Sébastien Marion: Being an entrepreneur is very hard. In my 15 years in business, what I found to be the most important skill for success is resilience. Never give up. Learn every day, improve every day, and trust that tomorrow will be a better day.
I wouldn’t change it for the world.
There is nothing like trying to solve the problems that you care deeply about to improve other people’s lives.
Being an entrepreneur is living a life with a purpose.
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