‘Emerging markets, like Pakistan, were my inspiration– not only their viability for business, but their people as well’
Interview with Mr. Paul Philipp Hermann — Co-founder, Managing Director of Lamudi
Lamudi has expanded its operations in Asia to Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka before launching its operations in several parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America in October 2013.
The company’s Asian operations were subsequently subject to a pound 5 million investments from the German Tengelmann Group and others. Furthermore, the company is part of the Rocket Internet-Ooredoo deal and thus its Asian operations became part of the Asia Internet Holding.
Mr. Paul Philipp Hermann is a Global Co-Founder and Managing Director at Lamudi. In his recent visit to Pakistan, Mr. Paul Philipp shared his views and vision. Following are details of his interview with PAGE:
PAGE: Kindly give us a brief overview of the vision and scope of Lamudi?
PAUL: Lamudi’s vision is to become the number one real estate platform in all the markets in which we operate. We are an online property portal with an exclusive focus on the emerging markets. We love connecting people with properties, and we have become local experts in each of our countries, providing market insights and the latest property listings to help people buy, sell or rent real estate.
In terms of scope, currently Lamudi is available in 34 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Ultimately, our goal is to help people find their dream home no matter where they are in the world.
PAGE: Do you believe that internet-based enterprises will continue to grow rapidly and expand their markets in future?
PAUL: Internet-based enterprises are not only the future, they are also the present. We can see this today in Pakistan, which currently has 30 million Internet users, 15 million smartphone users and 12.8 million active Facebook users.
Recently, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) reported an increase in 3G and 4G users from 15 million in August to 18 million in September. This is the definition of an expanding market.
PAGE: Do you feel that global online services like Lamudi will soon take over more conventional business models?
PAUL: No, not really. There will always be a place for brick-and-mortar businesses. Online services like Lamudi are proof that there always needs to be a balance between on and offline locations.
Not only do we have more than 30 websites, we also have a physical presence in most of the countries in which we operate. In essence, conventional business models will never be replaced completely. Instead, I envision that there will be an ever-increasing balance between conventional and online models.
PAGE: What factors inspired you to become involved in global web-based businesses like Lamudi?
PAUL: I wouldn’t say there were specific factors per se that led me to them. I would just say that I have always had an international character, what in Berlin we call ‘multikulti.’
Since my days at university, I have been a witness to the explosion of Internet users around the world, especially in the emerging markets. I guess you could say that emerging markets, like Pakistan, were my inspiration– not only their viability for business, but their people as well. I have a passion for giving people what they want.
PAGE: What are the revolutionary services being created by rocket internet worldwide?
PAUL: Rocket has many ventures around the world. Lamudi is one of their top-performing businesses and one on which it prides itself. Rocket has a lot of faith in our brand. I would say that Lamudi is a revolutionary service.
Other brands and services that our parent company has created are Carmudi, Wimdu and Lendico. Like Lamudi, these companies aim to provide consumers with better ways of getting what they need.
PAGE: Do you feel that the growth of internet-based businesses in Pakistan will be slower than the more developed countries of the world?
PAUL: Pakistan’s Internet-based businesses have a lot of potential given the country’s booming Internet industry. I expect them to grow very quickly.
It is not simply a question of being a developed or developing country, it is more a question of providing specific solutions to a given market by using online and mobile technology. I believe that Pakistan’s growth will rival and possibly outpace other Asian countries.
PAGE: Are you satisfied with the pace of growth and advancement of internet usage in Pakistan?
PAUL: Yes. It is very exciting. We plan to be involved in a big way. But what satisfies me the most is not the potential for doing business. Naturally, that is an important part of it, but for me, providing a real benefit to the people of Pakistan is more important.
A lot of foreign businesses don’t understand the country, but Lamudi does. It is for this reason that I believe we have already succeeded immensely here. We aren’t just waiting for the country to grow, we are actively participating in making it grow as well.
PAGE: How do you think the rising use of internet-based services among Pakistanis will help consumers?
PAUL: Lamudi loves connecting people with properties, and our success in Pakistan is proof that online services make it easier for consumers to get what they want and what they need. There are many ways that Internet-based services like Lamudi help consumers.
Business people who travel a lot, the elderly, parents who are constantly multi-tasking — they can all benefit from online brands and companies who understand that our lives are constantly changing and are more hectic each day. I like to think that we help people be at peace and stress-free while buying, selling or renting real estate.
PAGE: In what ways can internet-based businesses help us in bringing down operational costs?
PAUL: There are many opportunities to save on operational costs by doing business online. However, net operational costs for an online business can be higher than those of conventional businesses.
It all depends on the type of business we’re talking about, its specific goals and the budget level that a company wishes to invest in its individual departments and projects. For example, an Internet-based business might spend more money on SEO and online marketing, whereas a brick-and-mortar business might spend more on renting retail space.