Rocket Internet has consolidated several of its real estate services under one brand called Lamudi, a real estate classifieds platform that officially began operating today in twelve countries within Asia, Africa and Latin America. In a statement, Rocket Internet said it plans to expand Lamudi into new countries over “the upcoming weeks and months.”
The companies now under Lamudi’s umbrella were consolidated over the past five months and include Nigeria-based Vamido, Mexican real estate marketplace Ubilista and Zamudi and House, both located in Asia. Lamudi’s real estate listings cover Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Uganda.
The real estate market has been very volatile over the last seven years, making Rocket Internet’s decision to focus on Lamudi especially interesting. In a statement, Lamudi Asia CEO Erwin Sikma said, “We are very bullish on the real estate classifieds market and aim to establish ourselves as the new number one in emerging markets. In particular with the support and knowledge from Rocket Internet, we will grow Lamudi very fast.”
Other key players in the same space include US companies Zillow and Trulia, as well as London-based Rightmove. Of the three, both Trulia and Rightmove have expanded into global markets. The list of countries Rightmove operates in overlaps with Lamudi’s, while Trulia Vice President of Communications Ken Shuman told VentureBeat in March that the company is eyeing small companies that can support international expansion as potential acquisition targets. Zillow, on the other hand, is currently bearish about tackling global markets and instead focusing on opportunities in the U.S.
Lamudi appears to build on Rocket Internet’s usual model of launching startups in markets that existing online players haven’t entered yet, with an eye on either expanding rapidly or building up the business to make it an attractive acquisition target. The German incubator, however, has been somewhat fickle with new ventures. If a startup doesn’t pick up traction or a market ends up being too competitive (as was the case with Airizu, Rocket Internet’s Airbnb clone in China, Rocket Internet often just shuts it down.
Potentially lucrative revenue streams for Lamudi include combining it with other services it already offers for residences, such as Indian home furnishings retailer FabFurnish. This gives Lamudi an existing starting point for connecting with potential customers in different cities. This area, called “aftermarket services,” has proven successful for e-commerce sites like New York-based Urban Compass, which recently raised a $20 million Series A round. Urban Compass acts as a one-stop shop for people looking for apartments in New York by offering real estate listings, a monthly rent payment platform and services that provide new residents with broadband, furniture and suggestions for local restaurants and places to meet people.