We have prepared for you an interview with CEO Chukwuemeka Ndukwe, who works in a crowdfunding company – Cofundie, which is growing really fast in Africa. He told us how their company changed communication during the current situation with COVID 19 and also that it is the human connection that helps increase conversions.
1. How did the idea of business in crowdfunding real estate originate?
The idea of crowdfunding is not new in Africa, people have been pooling money together to achieve a common goal for a long time. We saw that there was a financing gap in the real estate industry in Africa, with close to 60% of private financing for real estate directed towards luxury and commercial buildings, causing a housing deficit of 56 million units in Africa, 18 million units in Nigeria and 2 million units in Ghana, we created Cofundie as an alternative source of financing dedicated to financing affordable housing.
2. What was your start in the crowdfunding real estate industry? How long have you been on the market? Did you succeed immediately?
Cofundie started out of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST Africa) We started in August 2019 and launched our first crowdfunding campaign in mid-2020, the response has been amazing with a lot of interest from Africans and Africans in the diaspora who all want to be part of the new revolution.
3. What is the advantage of crowdfunding real estate and what to look out for?
Crowdfunding essentially democratizes access to investment and real estate. Before now, you needed as much as $10,000 to invest in real estate, Today because of Cofundie, with as little as $100 you can become a real estate investor and earn returns from a quality real estate just like the 1%
4. What are the current trends in real estate crowdfunding?
It’s an interesting field which is growing really fast. But the major trend to look out for it tokenization of physical assets using blockchain technology. There is also growth in fractional ownership of properties through crowdfunding.
5. How did you differentiate yourself from other competitors in your segment?
The major differentiator is our deep commitment to transparency, all information is shared freely with our community and we keep them up to date on all projects through various channels.
Cofundie is essentially the only player in the industry working in the affordable housing sector and working closely on both the supply and demand side. We also employ an educational marketing approach. We consider it our duty to keep our users informed and essentially educate them on investment and real estate.
6. How do you perceive the situation during covid-19, did you have to change your marketing strategies? Has the purchasing behavior of your potential customer changed?
Just like every other business, Covid-19 has had a deep impact on our business model and marketing strategies. The major change though has been the lack of direct contact with customers forcing us to focus heavily on digital marketing. Including webinars, digital showcases and so on. Purchasing behavior has definitely changed with costumers being a bit more careful, however, we haven’t seen a significant drop in home purchases at the middle of the market
7. On which online platforms do you communicate your business? Do you decide where to communicate based on investors in real estate?
We make use of Twitter to communicate with our audience and use Instagram as a kind of digital billboard, we basically go where our customers are
8. You also communicate using soc. networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin). Have you always used all these social networks for communication? Why do you use the following social networks?
We actually employ experimental marketing, using the different channels for what they have been optimized for. We have noticed that people use Twitter as a means of getting social proof so we try to provide as much as possible to them.
We also make good use of Facebook and Linkedin to acquire customers. Currently, we are exploring other non-traditional networks like Snapchat and Pinterest.
9. If you use online marketing tools, which would you recommend to entrepreneurs in your segment? Which ones save you time?
We love Hubspot, Intercom and Later. We also use Hootsuite and Mailchimp.
10. Do you use the automation of marketing processes?
Yes. Once we have discovered a marketing process that works manually, we work on optimizing and automating it. This saves us a lot of time and makes us more efficient which as a startup is extremely important.
11. Do you use webinars for communication and education? Only in the current situation or webinars have they been part of your communication before? What is successful for your specific target group in webinars and what works for your target group?
Webinars were actually not at the top of our priority list before Covid, we relied heavily on in-person meetings and events to hello build trust and relationships between us and users, however with Covid we have started planning more webinars.
Our target groups need quality and brief webinars which give them the opportunity to ask questions and allay some of their concerns. Its also allows them the chance to ascertain that there are real human beings behind the company
12. Do you handle marketing with an agency or do you handle communication internally? What was your experience with your agency or were thinking about marketing agency services?
No, all Marketing is handled internally.
13. What do people respond to the most in your real estate segment? How do you take care of your existing customers (investors)? How do you increase conversions in your crowdfunding business?
We have learned that our users respond best to real images, videos, phone calls and anything that connects them to the human angle of what we are offering. Knowing that their investment would go towards providing homes for people who would otherwise have not been able to afford it.
Our educational approach also helps to attract when users see the high quality of the learning materials on offer.
In conclusion, it is the human connection that helps to increase conversions.