Djordy Seelmann, CEO of Housing Anywhere: ‘You need great people to run a great company’
Djordy Seelmann is a guy driven by purpose. He is a tech entrepreneur, he is passionate about real estate and building impactful ventures, and he has always wanted to run a company. Today, that’s exactly what he does.
As the CEO of Housing Anywhere, a Rotterdam-based scale-up that has been transforming the rental market, Djordy has helped grow the company to 140 employees, navigated it through the corona crisis and led four successful acquisitions in the past 12 months alone. And there are more and exciting plans lying ahead.
‘When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a CEO’
For Djordy, being in the position he is now is nothing short of a dream come true. “I have always been passionate about tech and when I was little, I wanted to be an inventor,” he says.
“Then in high school, I wanted to be a manager and an executive. I noticed that it was great what you can do with tech, but it’s even greater what you can do with lots of people going for the same mission. I am a believer in tech but also in people, so being an executive at a tech company is the best of both worlds.”
Surely, Djordy has found his place as an entrepreneur. That is not to say, though, that being a CEO has been a walk in the park. It has come with its challenges, both in terms of expanding the company’s talent base and entering new markets, and those have taught him a lot along the way.
PropTech – short for Property Tech – is still in its early days and Housing Anywhere has been among the key players driving it forward. With the real estate market being rather conservative, Djordy and his team have been focusing on early adopters. “PropTech is very early these days, but there are new players coming to the market and they are looking for new tools and software to help them. Platforms like ours is where they can find demand.”
The business model of Housing Anywhere is a multi-sided one. They work with property managers who list their properties on the platform, and with the end users who rent them. At the moment, there are more than 60,000 properties on the platform and over 10 million unique users visiting it every year.
Every great company needs great people
The reason for the scale-up’s success so far lies within its very mission. “We are focused on making matches and ensuring that we get people together to a deal,” Djordy says. This is their approach towards their customers, but it is also how they work with all other stakeholders.
When it comes to acquiring other companies in the market and fundraising, it has been all about creating and fostering the right relationships, too.
Over the last 12 months, Djordy has led the four acquisitions the company has made, including that of Dutch rental platform Kamernet. Those deals have been largely about “finding the value of each of those companies and building trust with them.” With shareholders, too, he says “it has been crucial to keep open lines of communication. You need to know what their wants and needs are and be aligned going forward.”
If there is anyone who knows about the value of strong relationships, it would have to be Djordy. After all, growing a company to a team of 140 people is no easy task.
Over the years, he and the management team have worked towards more transparency across the organization, especially when it comes to key decision-making. They have also implemented the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework to empower employees to set clear goals that are in line both with the objectives of the company and their own personal development aspirations.
An important lesson that Djordy has learned on the way is that running a successful company is not just about having a strong product, tech or metrics. It is also - and perhaps even more so - about having the right people and the right customers.
“I have learned that as a CEO, you are not only a leader but also a manager of managers,” he says. “You need to become aware that your managers also need to be great managers and you need to train them. If you have great managers, they will manage great people.”
And you need great people to run a great company.
Also listen to our podcast with Djordy Seelman
HousingAnywhere CEO Djordy Seelmann on acquisitions, dealing with investors, and fast decision-making. Check this podcast here.
In this episode, we discuss:
- What is it like to step in as CEO when the founder steps out;
- What are Djordy's learnings when it comes to M&A;
- How do you structure your company for growth.