From the get-go, you can tell Michael Chaille is very passionate about making his latest business venture, Popety fly. The charismatic Swiss entrepreneur recently sold his consultancy business and now sits on the board for several start-ups in fintech and proptech between Europe and Singapore.
Popety is a 360 property management platform which aims to be the source of truth for home seekers, home owners and real estate professionals. It simplifies transactions and provides the necessary tools and services needed to manage and keep track of all matters related to residential dwellings.
What’s the story behind the name, “Popety”?
We initially wanted to focus on rentals and named our company “Transpa-rent” with the play on the word “RENT”. However, a couple of months later we pivoted to support our users on the entire life cycle of a property, making this initial brand name too narrow.
At this point, “property.com” would have been ideal for our company’s name except, as you can probably guess, it was no longer available then. So, we put on our thinking hats and applied algebra commonality. There, we simply stroke off the R’s, et Voila- Popety. A name that pops and simplifying property is exactly what we do.
How did the idea for Popety come about?
It is actually the combination of two things. First I related to the feeling of many people, including myself, frustrated by the experience of searching for a property with so many duplicated or misleading listings and being forced to go through multiple intermediaries who did not really seem to have my best interests in mind.
The second input came from my background as consultant helping banks move into the digital age. I felt if heavily regulated entities as banks can move from brick and mortar to mobile first, the same could apply to real estate.
With a problem in one hand and a solution in the other, I sliced and diced the idea with a few friends and there was a general sentiment that something could definitely be done. Investors decided to support the idea by putting money and time on the table and we’ve not looked back since.
How does the app work?
It all starts with a comprehensive database of all residential properties of Singapore, down to floor and unit level. We create what we call property profiles with curated and unique information. Once the property is on the platform, owners, seekers, agents can connect to it, enjoy all features and interact seamlessly. Indeed, the user experience on Popety doesn’t end at search. The platform supports all steps such as negotiating the deal, storing electronic documents or manage repairs with reliable service providers. To name a few, we have: AXA Insurance, Citibank, OrangeTee, MyRepublic or SendHelper.
We believe this creates a unique proposition as we are the only platform that allow seekers to access information on soon all residential properties registered in Singapore at their fingertips, not only the ones that are flagged as available. Best deals often don’t reach listing platforms.
Homeowners have more control thanks to indicators and alerts for major events happening on their property as well as the ability to manage repairs directly in the App (also available for tenants). They can obviously indicate if they wish to rent, sell on their own or with the help of an agent.
Finally, agents can now market properties and acquire verified leads at market value since it is done through auctions. They are also provided with a mini-CRM to keep track of their portfolio.
How does Popety make money from these transactions?
As a property management platform, we have different ways of pricing our services. For transactions, we generate revenues from selling genuine leads to owners and agents. For the repairs and services, we collect commissions connecting users to our partners. Finally, we also sell reports and insights as we sit on a number of data on properties and customer behaviours.
Is Popety is similar to other property platforms like 99.co, Propertyguru, iProperty?
A small “yes” and a big “no”.
Classifieds are mainly making money from agents (and few owners) listing properties. Popety also supports the marketing of properties by consumers or professionals. But the similarity stops there. Not only the way we monetize it is different, but we do much more as explained earlier. Customers expect more than just searching for a property. They actually need help to make offers, discuss on issues and proceed with repairs. For example, if a tenant discovers a defect, they can snap a photo and upload on the platform, first to notify the homeowner and secondly, receive a follow-up call with quotations from our partners with no hidden costs.
We intend to capitalise on each step in the cycle and ensure we are always there to facilitate customers’ needs from the moment they purchase their property, and this is what sets Popety apart.
To be honest, we believe the end for print and online classifieds is near.
What’s your marketing strategy and do you have plans to expand to other markets?
In terms of marketing, we are collaborating closely with Mediacorp (one of our shareholders). They’ve been supporting us with both above-and-below the line initiatives to promote our app on desktop and on mobile phones. Our marketing recipe consists of a mix of social media, events, digital campaigns and printed posters. There is no silver bullet solution but a lot of hard work.
On expansion, it is always a tricky trade-off between stabilising your home base and growing abroad. We do not want to go in too early because that would draw too much on your resources but going too late will see competition copying your model. You realise that often the trigger is a question of opportunity and timing.
We have a strong network and already requests of potential business partners to go there. However, we need to thoroughly assess the financials before any decision.
Where do you see Popety in five years?
Over the last decade, we have seen companies going from nothing to a multi-billion valuation as well as companies with a semi-monopoly position declining to near bankruptcy. The one thing that is always true in every prediction is that they are always wrong.
If you ask me what is my dream, I would say that Popety will support millions of customers in many countries taking care of property related matters and having more control in managing their assets, making real estate market as it should be.
Learn more at Popety.com