“The Netflix of real estate”, as is known the Brazilian proptech startup Housi, which has been betting on subscription housing, may expand to Latin America later this year. That’s what Alexandre Frankel, CEO of Housi, said in an interview with LABS.
The startup is a strong candidate to become a unicorn. In 2019, Housi raised BRL 50 million in a round led by Redpoint eventures. Asked about the next round, Frenkel said that “it is in the company’s plans.”
It is not that the money is necessary, because according to the CEO, operationally, Housi has already reached breakeven. “But our business model requires capital to further speed up our exponential expansion process.”
Increasingly, the world of payments moves to digital, and services on demand are more and more subscriptions-based. That was how disruptive apps emerged, such as unicorn companies that were innovative in transportation, entertainment, and housing (aka Uber, Spotify, Airbnb).
Changes in buying habits arise from how commerce seeks to deliver the product in the way new generations want to consume it. The new generation is more concerned with user experience than with possession, as said Edson Santos, founding partner of CoLink Business Consulting, advisor and angel investor, in an interview with LABS earlier this year.
“There is no concern about owning the car, you want to use the car to get around, but you don’t want to own it. These changes end up changing the way you pay. And it tends, of course, to be increasingly digital, more and more automatic, and more and more invisible. It will be built-in”, explains Santos.
It was betting on the idea of providing a better experience for the service that Housi saw, in 2019, a new business model: subscription housing. Yes, rentals already exist. But Frankel’s idea went further: to offer a platform for digital rental, with furnished properties and several added services.
That is, cleaning, maintenance, personal trainer, Netflix, everything else is already included with Housi’s monthly fee. “We already partnered with HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Americanas, Rappi, Netflix, Uber Eats, Apple Store, Google Play, Xbox, Spotify, Tinder, and iFood. Apart from these, we are always eyeing companies that we believe have a profile that adds value to our product,” says Frankel.
How to rent with Housi? With everything added, it is up to the tenant to simply worry about living. The user just has to choose the property and pay by credit card about the period of the stay, whatever it may be, a year, a month, or even a day. There is no need for contracts or a minimum stay.
“After selling thousands of apartments to investors looking for profitability, the founders of Housi saw the opportunity to serve these investors and professionally manage the units, improving results and taking on a task that takes a lot of work. They then created the first subscription-based housing platform of the world,” says Frenkel.
The first Housi apartment was a sublease from Airbnb. “Housi started with just one unit rented through Airbnb and inside a 25m² apartment,” he added.
For real estate investors, the company presents itself as “an alternative to the traditional real estate rental management model, offering more profitability and better management.” For developers, Housi acts as a residential banner to speed up sales.
“The idea is to bet on the licensing model. To unite Housi’s management expertise with the experience of developers and to have more and more flagship ventures, which are the projects that encompass the entire concept of Housi. Condominiums are also in our focus,” he stated.
Housi’s next steps
With BRL 10 billion of properties under management and 100,000 registered users in its base in 2020, Housi expects to reach BRL 30 billion assets under management by the end of this year and reach 500,000 registered people.
According to Housi, since the start of social distancing measures in 2020, the volume of searches on the company’s website has increased by 214%. This year, the startup accelerated its digital marketing campaigns, featuring former participants in the reality show Big Brother Brasil 2021.
Currently, Housi manages more than 200 buildings in São Paulo, but has already begun its expansion to other cities in Brazil such as Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Recife, Fortaleza, Goiânia, João Pessoa, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Campinas, Santa Maria, Bento Gonçalves, Santos, Maringá and Salvador, with over 20 cities on the roadmap. “We are on a scale of operations with an upward and rapid curve, with great potential for new partnerships. By the end of the year, we intend to triple in size and expand to 80 new cities.”