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Building an Online Real Estate Business From Brazil: Brian Requarth, CEO of VivaReal (Part 7)

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 14th 2014

Sramana: In terms of completing the story, bringing us up to 2014, there are few interesting questions I would like to ask. What are some of the other major strategic moves that you made?

Brian Requarth: Let me summarize one thing, say financing. I organized the financing in several buckets. After pooling from friends and family, in the first external financing, my investors were Simon Baker, Greg Waldorf, Shaun Di Gregorio—all these people have very deep understanding of the operations of a real estate portal.

Sramana: So you went after domain investors basically and they did not mind investing in an international company?

Brian Requarth: Yes, I got domain expertise and these are individual investors, not companies. When we hired Simon Baker as a consultant, he told us every single thing about how to build this business. I took pictures of everything, even the whiteboard when he wrote down ‘sales, marketing, product’. To this day, that documentation is considered as the VivaReal bible. For the last three years, we just executed it to a tee. We are faster, we are better, and we had clarity on the execution. Of course, we had to tropicalize certain things to the Brazilian market but for the most part, we had clarity of purpose. I would say the clarity of purpose and focus is the reason why we were able to gain so much traction against our
competitors.

Sramana: Did you raise any more money besides that domain investor-led million dollar round?

Brian Requarth: Till today, we have raised around $30 million.

Sramana: What other rounds did you do and where is the rest of the capital?

Brian Requarth: After the domain experience expertise, what I did in the second stage was get local expertise. I brought on local Brazilian funds as investors. They include Monashees Capital and Kaszek Ventures. The partners of Kaszek are the founders of MercadoLibre. Do you know MercadoLibre?

Sramana: Yes, they were clients, so I know them quite well.

Brian Requarth: Hernán, Nicolás, and Marcus?

Sramana: Yes.

Brian Requarth: So, Hernán and Nicolás invested in us and then Nicolás joined our board. I also got Eric from the other fund Monashees. I wanted the local funds to help with recruiting and hiring and I wanted the other funds to help with their expertise in marketplace businesses. The MercadoLibre guys, I think, are some of the best entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Sramana: Absolutely. How much was that round? Was that the only round or were there more? Was the entire $28 million raised in that round?

Brian Requarth: No, I then did a series B round led by hedge funds.

Sramana: And are these hedge funds out of the US?

Brian Requarth: San Francisco. Do you know Valiant Capital?

Sramana: Yes, I do. After the two Latin American funds round, the next round was the hedge fund round. Is this the capitalization of the company?

Brian Requarth: Yes, that’s our last round.

Sramana: And you were $10 million in revenue at this point, is there anything else that you want to share more in the story? It’s very interesting because we don’t hear as many Latin American stories that are as mature as yours. I did the MercadoLibre story a long time ago, in 2007. I went down to Buenos Aires to consult with them, and I did their story at that time.

Brian Requarth: One of the things that we did right was, we built a really good team of solid people. One thing that happened in Brazil was that people who are VPs in the company today had decided to leave consulting and banking and jumped in. They are all way smarter than I am. Hopefully, we can create more of an entrepreneurship mentality and get more people to leave the comfort of their desks, take a risk, and build something meaningful. Since then, I do a little bit of mentoring but not as much as I would like to because I still feel a huge responsibility to building this business, and I’m pretty excited about what we can potentially do because I feel we’re just getting started.

Sramana: That’s a great story. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Building an Online Real Estate Business From Brazil: Brian Requarth, CEO of VivaReal
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