“The real estate field has been almost the same for over 100 years. If you want to buy or to let a property, you go to an agency and you pay a fee. Thus, I thought it was the best sector where you can innovate in a disruptive way”. Andrea Lacalamita, CEO and founder of Homepal, one of the startup exhibitors at FinTechStage Milan, told us how the idea of his business came up.
Homepal helps the owners to let or sell properties directly to the users. “You can do everything on your own on the platform: posting the pictures from your smartphone, arranging a viewing through the Calendar and finally reaching an agreement on the platform”. For the whole service, you will pay a fee (90 euros for renting and 290 for buying), which is much lower than the normal agency fee.
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“At the beginning, it was just a game. I used to work in the financial industry for 20 years when I started. In just a few months, other 5 people with different background joined in, so we decided to invest our time to make Homepal grow”. The newborn company received a seed investments from business angels and an help for the IT structure in change of equity. “Today, we have already 100.000 unique visitors every month and 11.000 listings, even if we launched the platform in Italy only last September”.
Are you planning to reach other foreign markets? “We are doing some researches to launch soon in Germany, France and UK”.
Homepal is different from other competitors for two main reasons : “We allow the users to manage the whole process on our platform, from the first contact to the final contract, and we are social, you can see the review of the house and share the announce among your network of friends”.
Currently, the company is made up by a team of 4 people based in Milan. “In Italy the situation for the startups is not very good, there isn’t a proper support for the early stage phase, especially in terms of investments. I read a report some days ago: in Europe there are just 10% of the total investments in startups compared to US and the 90% of that 10% are in United Kingdom”.
What does an entrepreneur need to have success? “First of all you should come out with an original idea and you have to stick to it, maybe sounding even a little arrogant. When you have a new idea, usually people tell you it’s not possible, that it’s difficult to realize and so on. You should be determined to keep going and realize it anyway, if you really believe in it. Who else, otherwise?”.