Long term renting platform
Ave88 was a map-based long-term real estate renting platform.
It was built specifically for the Vietnamese market and launched in 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City.
There was only one platform capable of geospatial search, and it leveraged its privileged position on the market to charge draconian fees from brokers and landlords.
Every other platform looked like it came from the nineties or was built on top of the WordPress template.
Our go-to-market strategy was to compete through polished UI, best in class search, excellent customer service, and fair pricing.
We set ourselves a goal to launch in 6 months or less. MVP scope was pretty succinct - brokers should be able to manage their listings, and renters should be able to find available housing through map-based search.It took us around eight months to launch the product, considering that development teams consisted of two people, and I was working during after-hours.We chose Ruby on Rails and PostGIS as the core of our technology stack and Trailblazer as a high-level architecture framework. It helped us to evade typical code maintainability problems associated with intense feature development.
After delivering MVP, we wanted to add an ability to select all apartments within a given travel time for the next iteration. Say, all two-bedroom flats within 40 minutes by public transport from Vincom building.Further improvements involved migration from PostGIS to Elastic Search and from Ruby on Rails to Phoenix.
One of the usability improvements that helped us win people's hearts was a well-thought user journey carefully illustrated to help people find their way around a new platform.
Front-End, Back-End & Integration
Hosting & Dev Ops
- Incredibly relevant search
Using PostGIS and later Elastic Search, we were able to deliver excellent search capabilities based on relevance instead of a rigid filtering system.
- Smart clustering
We used k-means clustering to put properties groups exactly where they should be instead of aligning them to an invisible grid.
- Better agent engagement via exclusive lending
When many landlords and brokers expected platforms to manage their listings for them, our landing page increased engagement and helped them to do their first steps in the right direction.
We assumed that the technical solution would be enough while completely misunderstanding the situation's business and cultural contexts.And it could work unless there would four different platforms launching in the same month that we did.
Even though we achieved all our goals, there was no big enough differentiator to stand out from the crowd. We kept lights on for nine months before shutting the platform down.We had 1800 listings, and some people liked it but would never pay for our solution.
On top of that, we didn't understand the properties of multi-sided platforms and didn't solve the problem of low-quality listings.
Nevertheless, it was a fantastic journey filled with joy, excitement, and a sense of achievement. Not to mention countless amount of fundamental lessons that we learned, including the place of a technical in a big picture, the importance of a viable business model, and properties of multi-sided marketplaces.
My deepest gratitude is going to Ruslan, Ron, and Hendra for all the work and passion they put in Ave88 ❤️.