How Did the Business Come About? What Was the Light Bulb Moment?
I’ve always had passion for real estate and since my very first experiences I had the dream to create something my own. I liked the idea of building a business model with a great impact, able to innovate a strongly traditional environment, redesigning its borders.
Casavo simplifies the process of selling a home, allowing consumers to avoid the hassles and uncertainties associated with the different phases of the traditional transaction. Casavo achieves this by stepping in as a direct buyer and submitting an “instant offer” to buy the home in a matter of days.
Casavo’s launch was really focused on the validation of our business model. We focused on testing our services, closing our first operations with both consumers and real estate agencies, our main partners. At the same time, we started laying the technological foundation of the company (the evaluation algorithm, the website, the data platform, and so on) trying to position ourselves as distinctive from the very start.
What Challenges Have You Faced So Far and Overcome?
The first problem we had to face was to make our business model clear to our potential customers. In Italy, the iBuyer business model didn’t exist and people were not familiar with it. It happened often that people didn’t understand it fully and thought we simply were a digital broker. Moreover, our target of sellers involves also people not familiar with technology, and this at the beginning made them not comfortable relying on a digital platform.
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How Has Your Business Reacted to COVID?
Being a fast-growth tech company, we managed to easily adapt to the sudden change caused by Covid-19 and were able to react well even during the most acute stage of the epidemic. For example, since the beginning of lockdown, we speeded things up for the development of our tech products, which have been even more improved through the acquisition of Realisti.co (the leading provider of virtual tour technology in Italy and Spain).
Moreover, our Mobile App CasavoVisite allowed our clients to visit the properties on sale from a safe distance with a video call.
Due to our ability to react to change, we managed to achieve a triple-digit growth in 2020 while continuing disrupting the market launching new distinctive products and services.
As for the future on the market, we like to keep a positive outlook. Our market is buzzing and ever-changing and we think that technology can speed things up and actively contribute to the simplification of real estate transactions.
What Are Your Plans for Growth This Year?
We just announced our new capital raise of €200 million bringing total capital raised to date to €385 million including debt and equity: we expect to continue growing steadily this year! The series C equity round was led by Exor Seeds, is the early-stage investment arm of Exor, marking its first lead investment in an Italian startup, while Goldman Sachs will provide Casavo with a secured facility of up to €150 million to finance the growth of Casavo’s real estate inventory.
With this great capital injection, in 2021 we will accelerate our growth across our existing markets in Italy and Spain as well as in other European cities, helping thousands of home sellers and buyers. The equity proceeds will allow us to continue investing in our team and technology to deliver the best user experience for our customers. Finally, the facility secured from Goldman Sachs represents a strategic milestone for Casavo to finance at scale our real estate transactions on the institutional debt market.