Colombian Proptech Habi Becomes Country’s Second Unicorn, LatAm’s 43rd

In a series C round, investors including SoftBank, Homebrew, Tiger Global and Inspired Capital contributed $200 million to the new $1 billion-valued startup as Latin America’s family of unicorns continues to grow

Sebastián Noguera and Brynne McNulty Rojas, Habi's co-founders.
May 11, 2022 | 10:20 AM
Reading time: 14 min.

Habi, a Colombian proptech founded just three years ago, on Wednesday became Colombia’s second unicorn — the first being Rappi in 2018 — and the first in the proptech sector in Latin America.

This brings the number of unicorns in Latin America to 43, according to data from Bloomberg Línea and Distrito’s platform.

The startup closed a series C round, in which it raised $200 million. Among the investors are Softbank, Homebrew, Tiger Global and Inspired Capital. Previously, in 2020, Habi closed a Series A round for $12.5 million and then, at the end of 2021, it raked in $100 million in a series that was the largest to date in Colombia at that time.

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Habi was founded by Brynne McNulty Rojas and Sebastián Noguera, and six months ago the company expanded into Mexico, and now has more than 1,000 employees and operates in 15 cities in Colombia and Mexico.

In Colombia, among the 1,110 startups that make up the local innovation ecosystem, there are at least 65 identified firms competing in the real estate market and employing some 1,239 people, according to KPMG’s ColombiaTech Report 2021.

According to the Colombia Proptech Association, companies in this segment raised more than $300 million in 2021 from funds such as SoftBank, Bezos Expeditions, Acrew Capital, Renegade Partners, Tiger Global, Moore Strategic Ventures, and NFX, among others. In addition to logtech (technology applied to logistics), foodtech, fintech and retailtech, proptech was among the sectors with the highest volume of investment in Colombia in 2021.

Habi’s business model promises sellers it will close a deal for their property in 10 days, remodel it in fewer than 15 days and sell it in 45 to 60 days. Underlying this is a digital tool, known as the Habimetro, which is the crown jewel behind the project, providing users with a price for their property depending on its features.

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The process is virtually fully digitized, from the mortgage to the title deed. In addition, it has 900 real estate agents and its own portals for the sale of real estate.

When Habi set up shop in Mexico in August 2021, it acquired two sites: Propiedades.com and Tu Cantón.

At heart, Habi — which has already served more than 18,000 clients in Colombia and Mexico — has also been, from the beginning, a proptech with a fintech vocation, and aims to go further in this direction.

“Are we a fintech? Yes, we are a technology company that helps users get financial solutions. And I would say that more and more we will be a fintech that sells and buys houses,” Sebastián Noguera, Habi’s chairman told Bloomberg Línea. “But we are not, and we are not going to be, experts in managing the user’s risk or a bank’s balance sheet. That’s not our aim. What we are going to do is to make mortgage and consumer loans secured by homes grow, and that is why we are the largest mortgage broker in Colombia”.

The Co-Founders

Habi’s CEO Brynne McNulty Rojas is a New Jersey native and a graduate of the Wharton School with a double major in real estate and finance, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to founding Habi, she was global strategy VP at Selina, a consultant at McKinsey and at Goldman Sachs in real estate investments. She moved to Colombia with her husband, Julio Rojas, who until a few months ago was a director of Banco de Bogotá.

“I fell into this. The opportunity was just there,” Rojas said. “The way to sell a house in Colombia was by hanging a sign on your window with a phone number,” she told Bloomberg Línea in an interview in December.

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McNulty met Sebastián Noguera through her husband. Noguera, an industrial engineering and economics graduate from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, served as chief digital officer (CDO) of Banco de Bogotá and has also had experience in entrepreneurship. He accompanied entrepreneur Miguel McAllister as co-founder of Merqueo, a Colombian home market delivery platform that also recently expanded into Mexico.

That’s how Habi started with the idea of buying and selling houses. Noguera says that success lies in recruiting the best talent.

“My learning in this process has to do with hiring incredible people, passionate and aligned with the mission (...) Many of Habi’s leaders tease me about how intense I was to have brought them in. I called them, I wrote them on Linkedin, they didn’t pay attention to me, and that’s our job: we have to convince people who are doing very well elsewhere to bet on a growing company facing uncertainty,” said Noguera.

What’s next? Noguera says that becoming a unicorn is very important, but “it isn’t the end”, and expansion across Latin America is on the way.

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“Today we are the largest buyer of used housing in Colombia and Mexico, and this is very important because we have become a supplier of liquidity. I think we can still be 10 or 20 times bigger in what we do,” Noguera said.

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Latin America’s Unicorns

According to innovation platform SlingHub, investments in startups in the region slowed in April — following a global trend — and Latin American techs raised $812 million last month, 12% less than in March and 35% less than in April 2021.

Bloomberg Línea and the innovation platform Distrito have compiled a list of Latin American unicorns. The platform only considered startups that reached a valuation of $1 billion while privately owned, so some startups that reached this valuation during or after an IPO were not considered. However, those that reached a valuation of $1 billion and subsequently went through the IPO process, meaning they are no longer privately held, were considered.

According to Distrito, many startups that have a presence in several countries aiming for expansion and growth were not considered here.

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Startups that were fully acquired with a valuation above $1 billion were also considered to belong to the unicorn group. These are the unicorns of Latin America:

Argentina (10)

  • Auth0*

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2019

Major investors: Sapphire Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, K9 Ventures, Trinity Ventures, Meritech Capital and World Innovation Lab, NXTP, Cygnus.

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Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $103 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 6,498 (Okta)

*Auth0 was acquired by Okta for $6.5 billion in 2021.

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  • Technisys*

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2022

Major investors: Riverwood Capital, Kaszek

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: Technisys was acquired by SoFi for $1.1 billion in 2022

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Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,243

  • Globant

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2016

Major investors: When it was a private company, major investors were Endeavor Catalyst, FTV Capital, Riverwood Capital and WPP

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 22,000

  • Vercel

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: GV, Tiger Global Management, Bedrock Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $102 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 322

  • Nuvemshop/Tiendanube

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Insight Partners, Tiger Global Management, Accel, Kaszek, Qualcomm Ventures, Elevar Equity, NXTP Ventures, FJ Labs, Advent International, IGNIA, VMG Partners, ThornTree Capital Partners

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $500 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 457 + 553 (Tiendanube and Nuvemshop respectively).

  • Ualá

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: SoftBank, Tencent Holdings, Soros Fund Management, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Ribbit Capital, Greyhound Capital, Monashees, Endeavor Catalyst, D1 Capital Partners e 166 2nd. Bessemer Venture Partners, Jefferies, Point72 Ventures

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $350 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,273

  • Mural

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Insight Partners, Tiger Global Management, Gradient Ventures, Radian Capital, Alta Ventures Mexico, Intel Capital, World Innovation Lab, Greyhound Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $50 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,016

  • Despegar

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2015

Major investors: HM Capital, Merrill Lynch, AccorHotels, General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, Expedia Group, L Catterton, Waha Capital, Tiger Global Management

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $270 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 2233 + 446 (Despegar and Decolar, respectively).

  • Prisma medios de pago

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2019

Major investors: Advent International

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $724 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1552

Rounds: Acquisition - $724 million (51% of shares)

  • Aleph

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: CVC Capital Partners, Snap Inc, Twitter Inc

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $470 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 27 (holding)

Brasil (22)

  • 99

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2018

Major investors: SoftBank, Monashees, Riverwood Capital, Didi, GE32 Capital, Tiger Global Management

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $960 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 3,431

  • Neon

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2022

Major investors: General Atlantic, monashees, Banco Votorantim, Mabi, Omidyar Network, Propel Venture Partners, Quona Capital, Yellow Ventures, DOMO Invest, Distrito Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, Vulcan Capital, Flourish Ventures, Black Rock, PayPal Ventures, BBVA

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $300 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,624

  • C6 Bank

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: JPMorgan Chase & Co

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $ 1.9 billion

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 2,662

  • Cloudwalk

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Valor Capital Group, DST Global, Coatue Management, FIS FinTech Accelerator, The Hive Brazil, Plug and Play

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $150 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 296

  • Creditas

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2020

Major investors: SoftBank, Endeavor Catalyst, Kaszek Ventures, Naspers, QED Investors, Quona Capital, Vostok Emerging Finance, IFC - International Finance Corporation, Valor Capital Group, Redpoint eventures, Sequoia Capital, Napkn Ventures, Rockaway Capital, LGT Capital Partners, Advent International, Tarsadia Capital, Wellington Management, Fidelity Management, Greentrail Capital, Lightrock, Headline

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $255 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 3,651

  • Ebanx

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2019

Major investors: Advent International, Endeavor Catalyst, FTV Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: Not disclosed

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1253

  • Facily

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Quona Capital, Rise Capital, Prosus, Tru Arrow, Goodwater Capital, Emerging Variant, Spruce House, JS Capital, S7, Citius, Convivialité Ventures, Canary, Monashees, DX Ventures, Tiger Global Management, Founders Fund, Luxor Capital Group

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $135 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1246

  • Frete.com (CargoX)

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Goldman Sachs, Qualcomm Ventures, Blackstone Group, Soros Fund Management, Valor Capital Group, Agility, Lumia Capital, Colle Capital Partners, Salazar Resources, NXTP Ventures, LGT Capital Partners, Farallon Capital, Pattac, Oikos, SoftBank, Tencent Holdings

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $200 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 118

  • Gympass

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2019

Major investors: Redpoint eventures, Kaszek Ventures, Provence Capital, Atomico, General Atlantic, Valor Capital Group, Atomico, SoftBank, ONEVC, Moore Strategic Ventures

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $300 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 2,050

  • Hotmart

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Alkeon Capital, Buscape, GIC, General Atlantic, Kees Koolen, TCV

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $126.5 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 9,310

  • iFood

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2018

Major investors: Innova Capital, Just Eat, Movile, Naspers, Warehouse Investimentos

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $500 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 9,489

  • Loft

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2020

Major investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Fifth Wall Ventures, Vulcan Capital, Canary, monashees, Valor Capital Group, Thrive Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Fifth Wall Ventures, QED Investors, Greyhound Capital, GIC, DST Global, Tiger Global Management, Silver Lake Partners, Advent International, D1 Capital Partners, Tarsadia Capital, Altimeter Capital, CPP, Emergin Varian

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $175 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 2,300

  • Loggi

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2019

Major investors: Aimorés Investimentos, DOMO Invest, Dragoneer Investment Group, Fifth Wall Ventures, GGV Capital, IFC - International Finance Corporation, IKJ Capital, Iporanga Investmentos, Kaszek Ventures, Microsoft

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $150 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 3,485

  • Mercado Bitcoin

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Endeavor, GP Investments, PIPO Capital, Parallax Ventures, SoftBank, TradersClub, Tribe Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $200 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 527

  • Merama

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Valor Capital Group, SoftBank, Advent International, Globo Ventures, Balderton Capital, Monashees, MAYA Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $60 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 200

  • MadeiraMadeira

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Brasil Capital, Lakewood Capital, monashees, SoftBank, Velt Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners, Dynamo, Light Street Capital, JCR Group, Monashees, Kaszek Ventures

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $190 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,836

  • Nubank

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2018

Major investors: Kaszek Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management, Berkshire Hathaway, Goldman Sachs, Redpoint eventures, DST Global, Founders Fund, QED Investors, Sands Capital, Verde Asset, Absoluto Partners, Tencent Holdings, Dragoneer Investment Group, Whale Rock, Invesco, Thrive Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $150 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 8,128

  • Olist

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Valor Capital Group, Redpoint eventures, SoftBank, Endeavor Catalyst, FJ Labs, 500 Startups, DeNA, Unreasonable Capital, Polaris Investimentos, Goldman Sachs, Wellington Management, Globo Ventures

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $177.6 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,161

  • Wildlife

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2019

Major investors: Benchmark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Vulcan Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $60 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,168

  • QuintoAndar

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2019

Major investors: General Atlantic, Kaszek Ventures, Sequoia Capital, QED Investors, Qualcomm Ventures, Dragoneer Investment Group, SoftBank, Qualcomm Ventures, Acacia Capital Partners, GE32 Capital, LTS, Alta Park Capital, Ribbit Capital, Maverick Ventures, IDC Ventures, Tencent Participaciones, Greenoaks Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $250 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 3,582

  • Vtex

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2020

Major investors: Gávea Angels, SoftBank, Constellation Asset Management, Riverwood Capital, Tiger Global Management

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $225 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,710

  • Unico

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Goldman Sachs, General Atlantic, SoftBank, e.Bricks Ventures

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $121.6 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 1,045

Chile (3)

  • Betterfly

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2018

Major investors: Glade Brook Capital Partners, QED Investors, Softbank, Albatross Capital, Alaya Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $125 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 425

  • Cornershop

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: ALLVP, Jackson Square Ventures, Accel, Uber

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $1.4 billion

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 800

  • NotCo

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: SOSV, Kaszek, Bezos Expeditions, The Craftory, Future Positive, L Catterton, Enlightened Hospitality Investments, Tiger Global Management, DFJ Growth, ZOMALAB, Roger Federer, Kaszek Ventures, Maya Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $235 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 626

Colombia (2)

  • Habi

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2022

Major investors: SoftBank, HomeBrew, Tiger Global, Inspired Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $200 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 605

  • Rappi

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2018

Major investors: T. Rowe Price, Sequoia Capital, SoftBank, DST Global, Delivery Hero, Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, Investo

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $200 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 8413

Mexico (6)

  • Clip

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: SoftBank, Viking Global Investors, General Atlantic, Alta Ventures, Sierra Ventures, Endeavor, American Express Ventures, Fondo De Fondos, Accion, 500 Global, Karl Mehta, SV Latam Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $250 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 927

  • Clara

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: DST Global Partners, General Catalyst, Monashees, Coatue, General Catalyst Partners, Global Founders Capital

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $70 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 254

  • Bitso

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: Tiger Global Management, Coatue, Bond Capital, Pantera Capital, Kaszek Ventures,QED Investors, MassChallenge, Digital Currency Group, Endeavor, Pantera Capital, Coinbase, Monex Group, Digital Currency Group, FundersClub, Variv Capital, BnkToTheFuture

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $250 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 631

  • Jeeves

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2022

Major investors: Tencent, GIC, Stanford University, Andreessen Horowitz, CRV, Silicon Valley Bank, FT Partners, Clocktower Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund, Haven Ventures, Gaingels, Spike Ventures

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $180 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 185

  • Konfío

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2021

Major investors: QED Investors, Tarsadia Investments, International Finance Corporation, SoftBank, Kaszek Ventures, Quona Capital, VEF, Goldman Sachs, Victory Park Capital, Lightrock

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $110 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 877

  • Kavak

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2020

Major investors: General Catalyst Partners, Founders Fund, Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global Management, SoftBank, DST Global, Greenoaks, Bond Capital, General Atlantic, Endeavour, Mountain Nazca, Kaszek

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $235 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 4,515

Uruguay (1)

  • dLocal

Year in which it became a unicorn: 2020

Major investors: Alkeon Capital Management, Bond Capital, Tiger Global Management, General Atlantic, Endeavour, Addition

Deal value that turned it into a unicorn: $200 million

Number of employees (LinkedIn): 570

*Other startups that could be on the list were not included due to lack of information disclosed/found.