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99.co Case Study: Unlocking engineering efficiencies and powering property tech with data

How 99.co managed to free up engineering resources and build a data-first company with Holistics, using data analytics and automation to deliver a better service.

Using Holistics Since 2015
Industry Real Estate Property Tech
Employees 100+

We looked into a number of business intelligence tools before choosing Holistics as our go-to platform for analyzing and sharing company data reports, due to its deceptive ease of use, customizable filters, efficiency, scalability, and affordability for growing companies.

Conor McLaughlin, Co-founder, 99.co

Conor McLaughlin

Co-founder, 99.co

About 99.co

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99.co, a Sequoia-backed tech startup in Singapore, is a property search portal headquartered in Singapore that focuses on the consumer experience.

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They help consumers make better renting and buying decisions, delivering highly qualified leads to property agents with online and mobile tools to improve their work efficiency.

Key Learnings

Takeaways from the 99.co team

  • Moving away from an in-house dashboard helped the data team at 99.co focus their time on analysis and insights, while freeing up engineering resources to deliver on their product roadmap.
  • Retention is the true indicator of how much value you’re providing for your customer. Reports and metrics such as cohort retention, trend analysis, transaction synthesizing, and mailing lists are easily published and shared on Holistics across the company.
  • Holistics enables Operations and Marketing teams to function in a lean way, making querying the data warehouse far easier for support operations, and enabling non-technical users to quickly access data reports for their regular operational needs.
  • Developing a workflow for a single source of truth, from the data pipelines through to the result outputs, can now be easily managed. The engineering and data teams are now able to quickly identify and fix data quality issues from the source with Holistics, and the improved flow of questions has also helped the company brainstorm and generate new ideas for opportunities and recommendations.

The Problem

Maintaining in-house dashboards takes up engineering time

Prior to using Holistics, 99.co was using an internal custom dashboard built with Python and JavaScript to analyze their data. They also used Mixpanel to help track various marketing reports, and Google Sheets to track some key weekly metrics.

Maintaining this dashboard required significant engineering effort. While it did its job, lots of time was spent building and maintaining them, requiring numerous updates of Python code to perform the MapReduce jobs.

It was very difficult for non-technical business users to generate queries themselves, resulting in the data team bearing the sole burden of attending to data update requests from other team members. The dashboard also lacked basic capabilities, such as the automatic scheduling of email reports, which resulted in the engineering team having to write Cron jobs and use different graphing options.

When the data did not look right, the engineering and data team had to check if there was a bug in their code, or errors with how they collect, track, or extract their data. Accessing data was a complex process, requiring frequent troubleshooting of data quality issues, by matching and comparing data from their dashboards with data that they queried out manually.

When their internal data dashboard grew too big to maintain, 99.co realized they needed a more effective way to manage their data infrastructure, in order to drive the next level of growth with their data.

Conor McLaughlin, Co-founder, 99.co

Working with the Holistics team makes us feel like we have someone in our corner and we don’t have to shoulder the burden of data warehousing and analysis ourselves.

– Conor McLaughlin, Co-founder, 99.co

The Solution

An easy-to-implement data platform, for faster access

As their application gets more popular with users for listing and buying properties, the amount of data that 99.co collects and analyzes has also increased exponentially.

They needed a way to join their various datasets easily, while allowing their non-technical team members to have access to the data. It became clear that connecting their data warehouse to a business intelligence solution was a better approach.

“We looked into a number of business intelligence tools before choosing Holistics as our go-to platform for analyzing and sharing company data reports, due to its deceptive ease of use, customizable filters, efficiency, scalability, and affordability for growing companies.” shared Conor McLaughlin, Co-founder of 99.co.

Technical users and data teams saw the value of using the new Holistics setup, and adapted easily to Holistics. Designed for data analysts to build reports in the most effective way through SQL, Holistics allows the 99.co data team to help the company build reports that answer even the most complex questions they have from their data.

Their favorite Holistics’ feature is the ability to create custom retention charts directly from 99.co’s own database data. “Ultimately retention is the true indicator of how much value you’re providing for your customer base and those who stick around longer and much more likely to pay,” says McLaughlin.

“Our non-technical teams (marketing, customer happiness, business development, etc.) all love Holistics,” says Gabriel Yong, Data Operations Manager at 99.co. Working with a data warehouse and Holistics has also made it far easier to run queries for support operations, shared Yu Mei, Lead Data Analyst at 99.co.

An added bonus moving away from their previous in-house data dashboard to Holistics was that 99.co can now schedule reports and metrics to be delivered and emailed automatically without the need to write Cron jobs to schedule tasks manually, so their business is always on top of their data.

99.co no longer has to divert scarce technical manpower resources to maintain and troubleshoot their full-stack of data infrastructure, ranging from the servers, data warehouse, front-end JavaScript and back-end ETL scripts from their in-house data dashboard. The time saved can now be spent on analyzing how they can use data to achieve their growth objectives.

“Working with the Holistics team makes us feel like we have someone in our corner and we don’t have to shoulder the burden of data warehousing and analysis ourselves,” says McLaughlin.

Gabriel Yong, Data Operations Manager, 99.co

Our non-technical teams (marketing, customer happiness, business development, etc.) all love Holistics.

Special mention also goes to the speedy and excellent support from the awesome “sql-geeks” team at Holistics, who always went the extra mile in helping us! They have always been very fast to respond to our feedback or requests, even to the point of answering our questions surrounding SQL!

– Gabriel Yong, Data Operations Manager, 99.co

Killer Features

How 99.co uses Holistics

Customer insights

“If we can’t measure a metric, we can’t improve it,” says McLaughlin. “Holistics has helped shed light on more metrics and indicators that were previously invisible to us.” Reports and metrics such as cohort retention, trend analysis, transaction synthesizing, and mailing lists are easily published and shared on Holistics across the company.

Examples of such reports include:

  • How many users they have, and which agencies they were from, over any period of time
  • How many enquiries their application has sent to agents
  • What types of keywords are used in their listings, and which are trending
  • How many times the listings are viewed, segregated by property type, price-range, etc.

Holistics provides the flexibility that the 99.co team needs to segment their cohort reports, and allows them to create cohort reports for data points that they may not have thought of tracking before, through using events data.

“For listing quality and listing acquisition, we’ve seen a 50% improvement in our quality and quantity of listings in high-demand and high-impact areas,” McLaughlin continues saying. “We know what supply we need to meet our growing demand!”

Data analytics and data science

Holistics allows proactive business users to learn and build their knowledge of SQL data reporting, without the overheads of having to install, manage, and operate a database administration tool on their workstations.

“Holistics’ focus on dynamic SQL provides incredible finesse in how you query, and their SQL-first approach means the UI is there to help you when you need it, but doesn’t stop you from getting down in the dirt when you need to,” shared McLaughlin.

Users who were not originally familiar with SQL took the opportunity to examine existing Holistics reports, to learn and build their own queries. “Ever since we’ve implemented Holistics, there has been at least a fourfold increase in the number of team members who can generate their own queries!” says Grace Tang, Data Scientist at 99.co.

“Special mention also goes to the speedy and excellent support from the awesome “SQL-Geeks” team at Holistics, who always went the extra mile in helping us!” Yong laughs. “They have always been very fast to respond to our feedback or requests, even to the point of answering our questions surrounding SQL.”

Future Of Data At 99.co

Using data and automation to deliver a better service

The morale of the data team has gone up, as they no longer feel like the company’s data bottleneck, while giving users across the company more confidence and control over their data needs.

With Holistics, the engineering and data teams are now able to quickly identify and fix data quality issues from the source. Developing a workflow for a single source of truth, from the data pipelines through to the result outputs, can be easily managed.

The improved flow of questions has also helped the company brainstorm and generate new ideas for hypothesis building and data analysis. As the data team gets more effective in handling their colleagues’ requests, they become more able to feed on the ideas and to ask more questions from their data, in order to generate new opportunities and recommendations.

Operations and Marketing teams are using data reports for their regular operational needs, and as 99.co develops more data-heavy features such as the Maximiser service, dashboards have grown even more important.

With the Holistics data platform powering a flat organizational structure for data access, and a proactive level of support from the Holistics team to their changing needs, the 99.co team has been able to realize the benefits of a data-informed culture across their company.

Using Holistics

Tips & tricks from the 99.co team

  • Explore Results is a big help for the product team, as a way of building charts and reports using drag-&-drop without having to write SQL.

  • Holistics filters allows the same report to be customizable in many ways, for the business teams to access their data in the format they need. By just selecting values from a menu, non-technical users can easily access a report on enquiries segmented by property value, user type aggregated by day, week, or month, and information on the total number of agents covering the various districts in Singapore. All this can be shared and used immediately, with no additional explanations needed.

  • Bubble charts are useful for visually displaying the top 20 performing listings by clicks, with bubble size indicating how many clicks there are.

  • Use Data Transforms to schedule SQL queries for extracting postal code values from JSON data, to materialize as a table you can join to for reporting. Also useful for working with events data and tables.

  • Don’t be shy to ask for support! The Holistics SQL-Geeks, a complimentary email helpdesk for any SQL related questions, made it simple for the team to answer any questions they have on SQL.