Stanford University classmates Gabriel Braga and André Penha knew the real estate market in Brazil was plagued by bureaucracy and steep fees, and they were sure they could build something better. They envisioned a digital marketplace that could connect potential tenants and homebuyers to landlords and sellers to streamline real estate transactions in Brazil. In 2012, they founded QuintoAndar, a housing marketplace that connects property owners, residents, brokers and agents in Brazil. The company, which began with a small team of developers, has now the largest valuation of a proptech in Latin America at $5.1B as of August 2021, after raising another $120M on top of the $300 million in Series E funding they raised in May 2021.
Building a PWA at Google for Startups Accelerator: Brazil
QuintoAndar started out with four projects in two stacks for their front end main products: Android and iOS mobile apps and desktop and mobile websites. The brand wasn’t well-known, so users were hesitant to install its apps.
To meet their aggressive traffic and growth goals, QuintoAndar decided to participate in the Google for Startups Accelerator: Brazil program. Their Google mentors introduced them to the concept of Progressive Web Apps, which use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience, and described a long-term strategy for QuintoAndar using a PWA. QuintoAndar’s leadership could see that a PWA would allow them to evolve the product on multiple platforms by unifying the production and support of new features.
To help focus developers on a main stack and offer users a great web experience, the QuintoAndar team decided to go all-in on a PWA written in React, using Chrome for the browser and Chrome DevTools to develop and debug the app. They used WorkBox to improve the offline experience and Google Material Design to unify the desktop-app cross-platform experience.
The PWA served as QuintoAndar’s main web digital channel, and three apps met the needs of three user categories: home buyers and renters; sellers or landlords; and real estate agents. Home buyers and renters used QuintoAndar’s main PWA to search for homes, schedule virtual or on-site visits, negotiate, and complete all the steps of the rental or sales process. Homeowners used the homeowners’ app to list properties for sale or rent, monitor visits, negotiate with potential buyers or tenants, and close deals. Real estate agents used the agent’s app to manage their schedules, book visits, contact clients, and manage deals.
QuintoAndar’s four years of focusing on its PWA helped the company shape its product and drive growth. Traffic increased to 30 times its initial rates. By 2021, with a larger engineering and product team and a well-known brand, QuintoAndar decided to invest in mobile app development, to offer a better user experience. After researching mobile development options, the company built a native app with Flutter, and QuintoAndar’s app score went up from 3.9 to 4.5. The company continues to invest in both web and native mobile app platforms.
Leveraging Google Cloud to get results
Now, QuintoAndar has dedicated platform teams to improve its tech stack and build developer tools for stream-aligned teams, like design system, web performance, and native teams. On the stack side, they use Next.js for web and Flutter for native apps. They also use YouTube, Google Maps Platform, Firebase, Cloud Firestore, Cloud Functions, and Analytics to real time sync in features such as favorite lists and negotiations (which are back-and-forth messages between the tenant/buyer and the homeowner/seller).
When QuintoAndar launched, none of the players in the proptech market in Brazil showed exact locations of their listings, which had a negative impact on user experience. QuintoAndar uses Google Maps to show the exact location of properties, which forces the market to change accordingly.
Looking forward to growth
QuintoAndar has grown steadily, and today, the company employs over 4,000 people, with technical teams of more than 600. QuintoAndar is available in all five 5 regions of Brazil and more than 60 Brazilian cities, and is expanding internationally, starting with Mexico. Taking its lead from Google mentors, the company has adopted guiding principles of innovation, keeping customers at the center of decision-making, working collaboratively, and delivering results.
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