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Just Out of YC, Mexican Proptech, Morada Uno, Raises a US$2 Million Seed Round

The company aims to speed up the rental process by underwriting tenants, thus removing the need for a co-signer.

The co-founders of Morada Uno: Diego Llano, Ines Gamboa, Santiago Morales
By Marcella McCarthy (EN)
September 01, 2021 | 06:00 am

Miami — Morada Uno, the Mexican startup that underwrites tenants and guarantees payment for landlords, today announced their first raise: a $2 million seed round led by Global Founders Capital with the participation of Picus Capital, Next Billion Ventures, Clocktower Ventures and select angel investors.

In Mexico, to rent a home or an apartment, the tenant needs a co-signer who has a property that is debt free, yet home ownership in the country continues to be hard to achieve, leaving possible tenants without options when it comes to finding a co-signer. In fact, Morada Uno “estimates that 50% of people don’t have access to a co-signer.”

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This approach, “came out last century when there wasn’t a credit bureau. We’re well into the 21st century and there’s tons of data to look at to underwrite people,” said Diego Llano, co-founder and CFO of Morada Uno.

“Let’s bring credit scoring capability to real estate,” he said. The company, which was part of the YC Winter 2021 batch, modeled their business after a portion of Quinto Andar’s operations, the Brazilian proptech unicorn.

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The company targets brokers in what they call their “broker first approach” to use their app to close more sales at a faster pace. But to make money, it charges 6% of the annual lease value to the landlord and the tenant (it’s usually split evenly, said Llano).

The company said that traditionally the average closing time in Mexico is 10 days, but with the use of its tools, brokers can close the deal in just one day.

The average apartment value Morada Uno works with is about $800 USD or about $16,000 pesos, “so if a landlord can rent their apartment 10 days sooner, the [landlord’s portion of the] service pays for itself,” said Llano.

The Backstory

The founders, Diego Llano, Santiago Morales and Ines Gamboa, met while working at Loft, the Brazilian digital real estate startup that became a unicorn earlier this year and is now valued at $2.2 billion.

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The three were originally hired to lead the startup’s expansion to Mexico, but when the pandemic hit, it’s CEO pulled the plug on the operation, leaving Llano and the others either on the bench at Loft, or open to pursuing new opportunities. That’s when they decided to go at it themselves.

They had already been working together for 6 months and found that they worked well together.

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“We had the team, we had team validation, we had a lot of market specific expertise and knowledge, we knew the business, and all three of us shared a very authentic ambition to launch a business in Mexico,” said Llano.

They realized that the proptech space in Mexico already had successful players, with companies such as La Haus and Truehome operating there. Across Latin America, the real estate marketplace model had also been “done” by Loft from Brazil and Houm from Chile.

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They would need to do something different, and that’s when they identified the major pain point in the rental market. Llano and Morales took little convincing, but Gamboa was more risk averse. Eventually the others convinced her. The company was founded in October 2020 and launched in January 2021.

“The pandemic put us in that position and the stars aligned,” Llano said.