nestoria.co.uk is a UK based vertical search engine for property. nestoria.co.uk is owned by Lokku Limited, a privately funded group of entrepreneurs with strong backgrounds in European Internet search. At the helm is co-founder, Ed Freyfogle.
Like others in the nestoria.co.uk team, Ed Freyfogle worked for many years on search at Yahoo! He saw the opening to develop something like nestoria.co.uk when he moved from Germany to the UK in 2005. Global Edge ranked Ed equal 81st in their list of the top 100 most powerful property people earlier this year.
This week propertyportalwatch.com spoke to Ed Freyfogle, about where nestoria.co.uk fits into the property portal jigsaw puzzle and what challenges might be ahead:
How does the nestoria.co.uk model differ from others?
We provide a simple interface for users to quickly and easily search through many property listings. That’s all. We don’t try to keep the user on our site and we don’t show him or her ads or try to sell a mortgage. We do one thing and one thing only: we send users to relevant property listings. We do this by working closely with established property portals. We launched in mid-2006 and we currently offer the service in the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain.
What are the key challenges you are facing?
For all start-ups the challenge is the same: trying to do a lot with very few resources (people, money, etc). We’re only ten people serving 40+ property portals in four countries. We have to be very disciplined in how we spend our time and avoiding distractions.
How do you hope to win in the markets you’re operating in?
I think we have a different definition of winning than most people. For us winning is building a profitable, sustainable business based around a product we can be proud of. That doesn’t require us to “beat” anyone else or be “number 1″ at anything.
Is working with partners (eg: Qype) becoming increasingly important?
Yes, certainly. We’re always focused on finding ways to partner with others, not compete. Our recent integration of Qype’s local reviews is a good example.
Where do you see the business going, and how are you going to grow it? Will you be restricting yourselves to the UK, Italy, Spain and German markets or will you expand into other countries?
We just launched Nestoria Deutschland and Nestoria Italia a few months ago, so we have a lot of work still to do there. Eventually we’d like to continue expanding, but only once we’re sure we’re delivering a quality experience to users and partners in the markets we’re in. We still have a lot to learn. Another possibility for expansion is categories beyond property.
How is nestoria.co.uk different from globrix.com and other free-to-list portals?
We focus on doing one thing – sending leads to our partners. The free to list models I’m familiar with basically use the listings as bait to then sell the user a mortgage or have him click on AdSense listings. In that sense there’s a conflict of interest. Do they want the user to click on a listing or on AdSense? We don’t have that conflict. Nevertheless, to each their own. It’s not a zero sum game and there’s no need for others to “lose” for us to create a sustainable business.
Do you see nestoria.co.uk as a competitor to rightmove.co.uk?
Not in the slightest. On the business side, we don’t work with estate agents. On the consumer side, we think our tool is useful for some users when they are trying to find relevant properties. Portals are the right solution for deciding amongst those properties and for getting information about the complex process of buying a home. The services are very complimentary.
If I were Rightmove (or other major portal) I’d see Google as the biggest long-term threat. Why should an agent advertise on a portal when he can go straight to Google?
Where do you see the UK market heading overall, and why?
We see performance based models growing in importance (as they have in every other sector of the internet). The players with a traditional offline print background have been suffering the last few years, and that trend seems to be accelerating in the downturn.
Are there any future developments that you can tell us about?
In the current economic environment it’s hard to predict an exact timeline, but we’ll be expanding to other geographies and possibly other categories outside of property. Right now our main focus is on serving the markets we’re in. We welcome all feedback, and I invite anyone who’s interested in our progress to please subscribe to the Nestoria blog.