Marcel Angelosanto is bringing a new kind of real estate service from North America to Finland and to the rest of Europe. Despite his long experience as a business owner and a real estate agent it feels like he has been starting over again. Luckily Finland has provided also help and contacts he never had in Canada.
Marcel Angelosanto started his real estate service company Homes in One System in October 2018. It provides a new service which comprises of a collaboration between real estate agents and companies to share their listings and commissions.
“This will give agents access to greater inventory to offer buyers and allow sellers to have more agents to show their properties”, Marcel says. “The property will most likely be sold faster with better conditions, so it’s a win-win situation for all.”
Bringing the North American model of real estate to Finland
Marcel moved from Canada to Finland six years ago. The reason was love: his wife is from Finland.
Marcel had already a long history in working as a self-employed real estate agent and owning also other businesses in Canada. “I was buying and selling properties, owned a restaurant and laundromats.”
In Finland Marcel started working as a real estate agent in an office. He soon found out that the real estate business in Finland – and in the rest of Europe, too – differs from Canada and the rest of North America.
In North America the real estate agents collaborate and share their listings between each other instead of selling only their own listings and properties. Marcel thought he could bring the same kind of service to Finland.
“I figured that it was maybe the best option to do even though it was undertaking a big project”, he says.
Marcel took a course about starting a business and received the information he needed. But he wasn’t ready to go ahead with the idea yet. He understood that working in real estate business in Finland would be difficult without the knowledge of Finnish language and started taking courses in it.
“It’s a nice feeling to be welcomed”
Marcel ended up taking part in the MEGE project through Haaga-Helia StartUp School. “I found out that there was a startup school at Haaga-Helia and just walked in there”, he says. “Then they said that I have to be a student at Haaga-Helia to take part.”
Marcel registered at the Haaga-Helia open university, took courses there and joined the StartUp School. “I met Mikko Järvinen in an event about funding and he told me about the MEGE project.”
Marcel started in the MEGE project in autumn 2018, soon after the project was started. “I think MEGE is really good because it combines all these resources into one place”, he says. “It’s a combination, where everybody is working together for the benefit of helping people.”
For Marcel the most important things have been the support and the connections he has received. “You are kind of alone when you’re starting”, he says. Marcel finds that the MEGE project receives warmly everyone who hopes to start a business. “You are being welcomed”, he says. “It’s a nice feeling.”
For Marcel it was clear that starting his own company was the best option for him. He thinks he would have started his business even without the project, but it has made starting a lot easier. “It’s a lot of work when you start your own company.”
“Events are important for getting contacts”
Despite all the work Marcel thinks it’s quite easy to start a business in Finland, because many things are here straightforward. For him the best thing has been all the support he has received. He finds that there are a lot of organizations and events helping, like MEGE, Haaga-Helia, The Shortcut, Microsoft Flux, The New Co Helsinki and SLUSH. “They have all these things I never had in Canada”, Marcel says.
He finds especially important all the events where one can meet people with the same kind of interests. His partners are sometimes amused with his enthusiasm to take part in different events. “They kind of make fun of me, that I go to all these events”, Marcel says. “But thanks to events I have met all our team members, too”.
“A lawyer wannabe” who wants to read everything
The most difficult thing for Marcel has been learning the Finnish language. For him it’s important to be able to read and understand everything. “I’m probably a lawyer wannabe”, Marcel explains. “And when I came here, I was somebody who can’t read or write.”
Language was also the reason why he didn’t start his business right away when he came to Finland. “I figured, that I would need to get Finnish skills”, he says. “It was kind of like starting over.”
Now Marcel has a Finnish lawyer in his team, so dealing with the language is no more a problem. “If there are any forms in Finnish, she’s there and we’ll get it done.”
Heading for Europe
Homes in One System has already received its first customers. “It was exciting to get the first customer, to have this business approved”, says Marcel. The next step is to start increasing the amount of agents.
Since this kind of service hasn’t been available anywhere in Europe Homes in One System is also heading for other European countries. “In 2019 our goal is to have at least 1 000 agents and to open in at least one or two new countries”, Marcel says. “Once we get those first other countries and some traction here in Finland, too, we could grow a little faster.”
The team of Homes in One System consists of Marcel, the lawyer and a programmer, who works on a contract basis. “In the future we will have more employees”, Marcel says. “We’ll need more sales people as we grow.”
Marcel is eager to see how the business will develop. “It’s exciting”, he says. “Everything is kind of new for me.”
Homes in One System is being developed at http://homesinone.fi/
Text: Riikka Kotiranta
Photos: Eemeli Sarka and Riku Pihlanto (Helsinki Marketing)