The Future of Proptech
with Gonçalo Abreu, Alfredo AI
[FH]: You have recently announced your partnership with ERA. Although this is one of multiple partners, what does this new partnership mean for Alfredo AI.
[GA]: The partnership with ERA has come to consolidate the growth we were having in the Portuguese market. Alfredo turns 3 this year and it had a very complicated development cycle in which we listened to the market and achieved product-market fit. After reaching this level of maturity it made sense for us to try to get a strong partner. ERA has always been attentive to our journey, they liked our developments and the opportunity to integrate emerged. We are all very satisfied with the way the integration turned out to be.
[FH]: Do you feel that the needs of ERA, being a bigger partner, will lead to new developments of Alfredo?
[GA]: Yes and no. Alfredo has already achieved product market fit, but, of course, a partnership with a company like ERA involves a different set of needs than the ones we already have. We are always looking to into the future requirements of our partners.
Alfredo has market validation and it will now enter a growth phase; ERA is a partner that fits into our vision, they are interested in our product and will help us to further improve it.
[FH]: Do you have internationalization plans?
[GA]: International markets are our ambition. Startups live obsessed with that idea of "we have to scale faster", "we have to reach our goals very fast", often with the goal of getting investment. Alfredo has an advantage, as it is a profitable company practically from the beginning we can take it easy and do things methodically, that is, we have always looked at expansion and have always done our homework for expansion, but we know that for this we have to have a good product-market fit, a good process to train teams, it is necessary that the incentives are all aligned and without a doubt this is something that is starting to happen and so there will be news in this direction soon.
[FH]: What is the future of proptech in Portugal? What are the main trends?
[GA]: I think Portugal is a good incubation country for proptech, and there are various examples of that. The pandemic in this case was almost a blessing, i.e. the real estate business is mostly physical and with the restrictions it was necessary to migrate most of the processes to digital. Even before the pandemic there was already a relatively strong proptech layer being developed in Portugal, Alfredo being one of those players.
The proptech market is growing immensely in Portugal, and I don't think it will stop in the near future. There is a great level of acceptance, I believe that the market professionals themselves somehow forced the proptechs to gain maturity, there was a lot of product development in the last 2 years. Nowadays, as far as Alfredo is concerned, there are many professionals at a national level that can’t imagine sourcing future real estate deals without having Alfredo's market research or without using our platform and I don't see the need for those things to disappear even when things get back to normal.
[FH]: How has being in Fintech House and hubs in general affected Alfredo's success?
[GA]: For starters it has an excellent location but being at FH is not only being in the physical space. The way FH communicates the startups' news, how it makes contacts, even the partnerships it tries to create, such as Fintech 365, Portugal Fintech initiatives, Finlab, in which we also participate. These are benefits for any startup, any startup that is looking for a kind of accelerator that is competent to do this work, FH is an excellent option. We ourselves already knew some of them and we chose FH for some reason, nothing to add.
[FH]: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to get into Alfredo?
[GA]: We are now interviewing some candidates and my advice for the ones who are thinking about joining a startup is to express their drive. Try to understand in the various startups what a good opportunity or a bad opportunity can be, be critical, talk to people, talk to the ones you think you would like to work with, be active.
People often talk about how you should work on your resume and position yourself, but that sometimes creates a lack of authenticity. We are not looking for someone who knows things, we are looking for someone who can learn and who wants to demonstrate an evolution of a method, you don't need to have experience or great proof.
[FH]: What advice would you give to someone who is entering the fintech market now, with their startup?
[GA]: My view on this has changed a lot over the last few years, I don't think there is a linear answer to that question, my advice is to be critical about the journey. There are no tricks other than work and method, no matter how many mentors and opinions there are, no matter how much learning we can do there are really hard problems that require time and trusting relationships.
It is very much a maraIt is very much a marathon with sprints in between and not everyone survives, regardless of whether you raise capital or not, who you know, if the product works, decide if this is really what you want.
[FH]: Do you feel that there is still room in Portugal for more proptechs to appear?
[GA]: I don't think there has ever been as much room as there is now and we are in a peculiar time where it has never been easier to raise investment rounds. We at Alfredo have never chosen that route and have managed to grow on our own, but I can't think of a better time to open a software or digital startup than right now. The economy is about to reopen and everyone is looking for digital solutions regardless of where they can work, so go for it!