Young CEO’s biggest adventure pays off

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Jacqueline Van Den Ende, founder and managing director, Lamudi Philippines Inc. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

Jacqueline Van Den Ende, founder and managing director, Lamudi Philippines Inc. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

Jacqueline Van Den Ende is living the life most people her age are still busy dreaming about. At 30 years old, she is already on top of her game, as founder and managing director of the online real estate platform Lamudi Philippines Inc. She was recently invited to be part of the Asia CEO Young Leaders’ Summit, where she told her story and how she got to where she is today.

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Van den Ende says she started her career as an investment professional in a private equity firm based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where she is originally from. But she says her passion lies in helping build companies from scratch, as she explains why she founded a non-profit company prior to starting her career in finance, which now employs over 100 students in three countries.

Little did she know that her passion would lead her to a country which she never thought about going to but now loves every minute being a part of. “I had never thought of working in the Philippines, and definitely not start a company, but I decided to give it a go, particularly because I wanted to learn more about the high growth of Asia. It has been amazing in the Philippines so far.”

She was recruited to start and head Lamudi Philippines Inc., which opened formally in January 2014. Within a very short period of time, the company became the leading online real estate website in the Philippines, with over 100,000 properties and 1,000 brokers and developers online. Van Den Ende says Lamudi’s mission is to help consumers find their perfect home online from a vast assortment of properties for sale and for rent in the Philippines. At the same time, she says their company also helps brokers and developers reach out to millions of prospective buyers around the globe.

Lamudi is part of the Berlin-based Rocket Internet Group of Companies, which is now considered the largest incubator of online start-ups in the world. The company is publicly listed in Germany, and has over 100 ventures across more than 50 countries. Some of Rocket Internet’s more successful ventures include Zalora, Lazada, Easy Taxi and Groupon.

Lamudi is globally established in 32 countries. In the Philippines, Van Den Ende says Lamudi “came at exactly the right moment, because online and everything digital is exploding, and every Filipino knows that they can go to the internet to find property.”

As an example, she says that in December 2014, Lamudi had 400,000 visitors. In January 2015, the number has doubled to 800,000 visitors. This was also perhaps one of the main reasons why the country’s largest telecommunications provider– PLDT– decided to invest, via a joint venture with Lamudi’s mother company, Rocket Internet, to create the Philippines Internet Group, which will concentrate on creating and developing online businesses in the Philippines.

The young CEO is excited about the prospects for continued growth of Lamudi Philippines. She says their company has seen a very high interest for residential properties, especially condominiums in Metro Manila. In particular, she says the highest search queries on their website are for townhouses in Quezon City, followed by condominium units in Makati and Taguig. Van Den Ende says their data shows most people look for properties within the price range of about P1 million to P4 million, which means an active middle class, although they also have luxurious properties listed on their website as well.

She says one of the memorable transactions she has seen last year was the “sale of a private island called Fuga Island valued at P80 billion, and it was sold through Lamudi through an American investor. It was crazy.”

When asked whether she made the right decision to go to the Philippines, Van den Ende says she remembers that when she was still working for a private equity firm two years ago, there were times she would get bored and would ask herself if that was really what she wanted to do. On coming to the Philippines, she says since the time she started working for Lamudi, she clocks in 15-16 hours of work a day, but she never gets tired. She says this is because she is “creating something new. As an investor, you’re in the sidelines. But when you’re creating something, it’s so exciting. As an entrepreneur, everything you invest in your company pays off.”

Looking back, Van den Ende says she is happy that everything is finally falling into the right place, both in her professional and personal life. “I believe in work hard, play hard, so my weekdays are definitely for work. On weekends, I take buses sometimes to La Union or Baler with my surfboard in tow.”

She adds that growing up, she and her family lived in many countries because of the work her father does, and that’s where she has acquired the love for travel and adventure. But among her many travels, living and working in the Philippines right now seems to be her biggest adventure yet, and she says this time, she’s definitely in for the long haul.

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