Going after a traditional sector in a country which has barely heard of startups gives good grounds for success. This is what Gonzalo Rossello, Gerente General (the title sounds more than it is - he's a CEO) at Vecinos360, is doing in Peru. And it could well work. The startup has its first 2,000 paying customers, for an app which collects property management data for shared property communities.
And they are only just starting to scale.
Many have heard of the Chile startup boom, but few outside Latin America have ever heard of Peruvian startups. Gonzalo and his friends decided three years ago to change the situation - where the local startup scene was very academic - and launched their own startup. "The best way to learn is to get your feet dirty,” he told Hybe in an interview.
Vecinos360's team of 12 won this years national innovation prize of $40,000, aimed at boosting the growth of the business. The English version is due the first quarter of 2016.
There is no doubt over the existence of the problem. In many countries management of heating, waste, sewage or power is outsourced to management companies, which then spread maintenance costs between flats. Over the years the data is mostly held by the management company. Digging into this data to save costs through switching utilities, could well be impossible.
Gonzalo said most large management companies in Peru were still unaware of how a newcomer could shift the power-balance in the property management market, towards the owners. "There are no experiences of old industry being disrupted. They don’t understand the market can change,” he said.
As we have seen from many other industries, the incumbents tend to wake up too late.