Lamudi, Rocket Internet’s Property Portal For Emerging Markets, Raises $31.4M

Lamudi, a real estate listings site backed by Rocket Internet, is in the money today after closing a fresh investment worth €29 million ($31.4 million) to strengthen its business in Asia and Latin America.

Launched in October 2013, Lamudi is a property in the style of RightMove, the dominant online site in the UK, which is present in nine emerging markets across Asia and Latin America. (Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Colombia and Peru, to be precise). Somewhat confusingly, Lamudi runs two different businesses: the aforementioned operation in Asia and Latin America — which has closed this new financing — and a sister business that covers Africa and the Middle East, which is backed by Rocket Internet-affiliated Africa Internet Group but isn’t part of this round. They operate under one name courtesy of a consolidation move in 2013, but are separate companies.

Cleared that up? Ok, then. Back to the round… Lamudi (Asia and Latin America) closed the new investment from a trio of Rocket Internet stalwarts: Asia Pacific Internet Group — a joint venture from Rocket Internet itself and Qatari operator Ooredoo — Holtzbrinck Ventures and Tengelmann Ventures, a division of retail group Tengelmann.

The three are all existing backers, having fronted Lamudi’s previous $18 million round, which closed almost exactly one year ago.

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Companies affiliated with Rocket Internet are synonymous with vast expansion plans and chess-like global strategies moves but, in this case, Lamudi isn’t planning to expand its reach right now. Instead, these funds will go towards growing the company’s presence in its nine markets, according to Lamudi co-founder and managing director Paul Philipp Hermann.

“We want to become the leading online real-estate portal in all of our markets,” Hermann told TechCrunch in an interview. “We’ve done that in some markets, but want to build the brand in more.”

Lamudi said its revenue grew 460 percent last year, and it believes the rate could be higher still in 2016. If it were to decide to put expansion plans on hold for now, the management team believes it could reach profitability in the coming year or so.

“We can become profitable with this money,” Hermann said. “The question for us [with regard to pursuing future market expansions or profit] is where we’ll be in two years’ time.”

Right now, Lamudi claims to be seeing around four million monthly visits to its collection of portals, which have “close to” one million listings. Around half of its traffic comes from its sites in Mexico and Philippines, two markets where Hermann said Lamudi’s enjoys its strongest position.

While countries Myanmar and Bangladesh may seem like longer bets because Internet adoption is still nascent there, but Hermann is bullish about being early.

“As the Internet population grows [in every country], there’s eventually always been an online real estate market,” he said.

One market where Lamudi has arguably its toughest challenge is Pakistan, a country with a population of over 180 million and growing Internet adoption via mobile. Unfortunately for Lamudi, Pakistan is also home to Zameen, a rival site that dominates the local scene and recently raised $20 million. Zameen, which also operates listings site Bayut in the UAE, plans to use the money to expand into Bangladesh and other countries in the Middle East, thereby increasing its direct rivalry with Lamudi.

“Zameen has gone a good job [in Pakistan] over last eight years,” Hermann told TechCrunch. “We see ourselves as a strong number two… and are pushing to close the gap.”