Buying or selling a house or apartment in Albania might be a challenge and remains in the classical form, while choices for rent stay limited. However there is a solution to this, and it’s called shpi.al. Founder Tomi Kallanxhi explains how he and his team have pushed forward the product to the market through mobile solutions on iOS and Android, and we dive in deeper how the startup has moved forward after we wrote about the app last year.
What’s the main drive behind shpi.al?
Years pass fast and bring a lot of changes. Shpi.al wants to be the #1 website offering real estate services in the region. Â In a couple of years it will be easier for every Albanian & every citizen of the region to become more educated through the real estate web TV. Furthermore they will not need to buy their e-newspaper to check for new houses, instead they will be receiving geolocated push notifications with offers in areas they prefer. Less time searching for housing also means more time with their loved an overall win!
In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?
The first indicator are the numbers of people who know the brand, are using the apps and the website. Success is measured by the number of transactions (houses purchased, rented, etc.) realized every month and until now, we have exponential growth monthly. Actually, our service has become very well known among real estate agencies whoÂ first pointed us out as the main competitor.
Now they are our partner and they consider us as a successful marketing channel. However the growing number of users doesn’t make us happy, it gives us a sense of responsibility to always deliverÂ new products because we believe in the words of Tony Robbins: Innovate or Die.
What’s more important during a day?
On a typical culture from our region, the day starts with a coffee which lasts only 20min and focuses on work related things. We get to know each other better, solve different problems and practice team building at the same time. The team is our key.Â In the office we analyze all data regarding visits, transactions, the demand for houses in different areas, user behavior, the new imported data etc.
The day comes to an end very soon when you are immersed in a lot of activities, from the ones mentioned above to the real-time monitoring, from business meetings to lobbying for the community, from mentoring new startups initiatives to participating in training. In the recent months, I’m trying to help the community as well and help other fellowÂ cofounders take their startup to the next level.
How’s the feedback so far on shpi.al?
When we first launched shpi.al we realized that it was a little difficult to make people use the new way of selling houses through the web. We educated them and vice versa. When we launched the app we used the latest tools to measure retention rate and constantly sent out survey to see how people behave and how they use the app. The constant feedback has been reallyÂ important to us and pushed us to the next version of shpi.al 2.0
Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?
Our startup was fueled from a grant the World Bank gave us. It was a 6 month peace. The last 2 years shpi.al got to a self-maintain status, we had no other inflow than our savings so we had to work hard on making the first version as soon as possible. Now it generates profit. Lately we started to have green numbers and the red ones are disappearing slowly. Thanks to new options and services we are adding, we do expect to generate more income.
How do you make sure you don’t get lost?
Shpi.al is the first startup Big Media Expert created, a company that I have founded and 11 people are involved with. We don’t just diversify shpi.al services but we also diversify the startup portfolio. We have different projects going on but shpi.al is our first love and we like to keep it close to our heart. That’s why we invest so much in pushing the product forward and rolling out new features.
How do you find people?
Hiring is difficult, however, we aim to change the way how things are done in Albania, and usually want to gather that kind of people around us. And not only that. We look for those how to show a vision, passion for change and impact and commitment for a better product.
What was your most memorable moment so far?
A good memory is from the application process with the World Bank Grant, where we won because we were judged as one of the best three applications. This moment was inÂ particular special for us because it gave usÂ valuable feedback in terms of the product that we had built and in general it gave us validity for our product.
Dedication, dedication and only dedication. This is your only way to succeed.
The interview was initially published for StartUS Magazine in October 2015, and edited further for Digjitale.com