Benjamín Labra of Houm tells us how they developed a platform that makes it friendly and easy to invest, rent, sell and put property management all in one place.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Houm.
Benjamín Labra: I am 37 years old and studied Business and Administration at the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile. I grew up immersed in the real estate world because of my family and fell in love with this industry. I learned so much every day, so my work experience was always related to real estate. In 2014, I decided to study for a real estate masters at Columbia University in New York.
There is when I met Nicolás Knockaert, my friend and partner. We both had the vision that the real estate industry needed a 180° twist because it lacked technology and innovation. Renting, buying, and selling properties in Latam is known to be a bureaucratic, informal, and slow process that nobody enjoys. There is where we saw our opportunity and decided to create Houm. We wanted a one-stop shop with an innovative digital platform that was friendly and easy to invest, rent, sell and make property management all in one place. We aspire to be that partner in every person’s life throughout all cycles regarding their real estate life.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Benjamín Labra: Yes, I read a lot of books. I inform myself by reading everyday news platforms and learning new things every day.
I always try to be around interesting and smart people.
How does Houm market its product/services online?
Benjamín Labra: We market our service in B2B and B2C markets. We try and explore every channel there is to build our brand awareness.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Benjamín Labra: We use several tools and software like Facebook Business, Google Ads, Google Analytics, Amplitude, Metabase, Google Data Studio, our CRM, our email marketing software, etc.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Benjamín Labra: We have a thorough hiring process because we are forming a top high, performing team which is passionate about startups, proptechs, and changing people’s lives. I am not going to lie…to work in a startup like Houm means a lot of work and commitment, so we need to be assured that both sides are aligned on expectations and goals.
We retain people by having a lot of benefits such as stock options, more holidays, flexible schedules, home office, after office activities, and professional growth opportunities, amongst other things.
How are you funding your growth?
Benjamín Labra: We are financing our growth by using the capital of our last two fundraisers, Serie Seed in May 2021 and Series A in October 2021.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Benjamín Labra: Our competitors are mainly legacy real estate firms. We believe we offer much more value and innovation, allowing us to have the differentiation we need. Technology is one of our competitive advantages, with which we make the renting, selling, and investing process faster, safer and easier.
We also have many future projects that imply us growing more with the service we offer, being guided by always listening to our customers and their pains points.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Benjamín Labra: For example, we have a customer who is a landlord who experienced our service from abroad. Here is his testimony: “I live in Italy, and I sold my apartment in Santiago with Houm without leaving my desk. Even when I left a mandate in Chile for sale, I was able to sign the promise with the electronic signature. I only needed my Password and my identity card. Excellent service from Houm!”
Your final thoughts?
Benjamín Labra: We are proud of what we have accomplished in Chile, Colombia, and México, in the 10 cities we are operating right now. Many great things are coming. We are working on it and building the team to help us get there. We are so proud to see the change we wanted to see in this real estate world, with thousands of happy customers.