💡 The “Real Estate Better” is our series featured by PropTech Slovakia and its partners from Slovakia and abroad. Each episode is devoted to actual real estate challenges, while we share tips, solutions and experiences on how to solve them: this episode was focused on our fourth challenge: 🔦 “How to make life of large real estate portfolios easier ”.
Milan Bogár is discussing this topic with Vlad Costea, CEO and founder of sigtree. Sigtree has developed and provides very promising RE operation platform designed for large RE portfolios that can encompass whole range of RE segments in a country or more countries. Vlad and his team is very well versed in managing large number of services in international technological environment. They started to master their skills in one of the leading and largest providers of Telekom network technologies in the world. Last five years they help real estate sector. That is why we are very happy that we could hove discussed this topic with him, because Real Estate sector is becoming very similar. Number of services benefiting from digitisation is increasing enormously in RE as well and we need to manege them accros number of verticals.
Links to the episode recorded on 22 September 2023 on www.youtube.com:
Couple of our highlighs from the webinar/podcast with Vlad:
“… up to 2018, both myself and my team, we were involved with IoT systems. .. So that alone was quite an important vertical and it still is an important vertical which translates also to the real estate. ”
“one of the biggest asset classes. Then there’s a huge ecosystem around it. So it’s not just the asset in itself, being a residential or an office or a logistic building. It’s everything that’s around it and it’s a full industry. And that makes it alone quite interesting and challenging. ”
“Usually, the real estate sector has started to get used with vertical solutions. So, one solution that addresses facility management, one solution that addresses costs, one solution that addresses invoicing, collections, service charge reconciliation … I can go on and on … tenant engagement, leasing part … What we’ve decided to do is to follow the tenant life cycle horizontally.”
“And with our tool we are able to follow this life cycle horizontally and improve along the way every piece of interaction that happens between the stakeholders. And the stakeholders will be multiple. Because, as I was mentioning, we already have leasing managers, tenant representatives, facility management and supplier companies, community and tenant engagement responsible, so on and so forth.”
0:00 How to make life of large real estate portfolios easier?
01:23 Vlad’s and SigTree’s Introduction
02:59 Telecom and IoT background
12:16 How does it work and who can benefit?
22:04 When is ideal timing for using SigTree
26:22 Development of self-made AI
36:46 White label platform enabling real estate companies to look like IT providers
43:03 The fastest onboarding
48:22 Ideal start-up co-operation platform
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0:00 How to make life of large real estate portfolios easier?
Milan: I’m glad, that we finally connected. We met physically in Budapest a couple of months ago and it would be very good for us to tell us more about what you do, with what team you do this. I know that you are focused on commercial or mostly commercial segment but not necessarily. What you are focusing on is helping large real estate portfolios, you are helping with managing it quickly, swiftly and help these management teams to go through these difficult times better. So, today’s challenge that we will speak with you about “How to make life of large real estate portfolios easier” – despite the difficult times they have to face. So, who you are first and then what you do and how can you help them?
01:23 Vlad’s and Sigtree’s Introduction
Vlad: Yes, so I am Vlad, I represent Sigtree Technologies. We are a startup from Romania. With previous experience in IT/telecom we’ve decided to move to and build a platform for real estate developers and asset managers just because we are quite passionate of the vertical. We came in with not much experience, but I would say that in the past five years plus we’ve learned a lot and now we have a product that, actually, follows the tenant life cycle. It’s an operational platform that helps asset managers, developers, landlords, property management teams to improve their operations and to reduce the number of hours that they put in to handle a large portfolio. So, basically you can do more with a smaller team just by using our platform. In a nutshell.
Milan: You said that you don’t have or you didn’t have so many experiences and you rounded it to five years. But you meant experiences with real estate.
Vlad: In real estate. Yes, we’ve been working for many, many, years.
Milan: Because I know that you have very many experiences with IT systems with doing it in a way that really helps operation. Could you tell me more about this experience? How well are you versed in IT?
02:59 Telecom and IoT background
Vlad: Well coming from telecom, well obviously IT systems are an integral part of everything that happens around the telecom world, as telecom is being providing the main global communication channels today. So, this is why IT systems in telecom are quite critical and usually they have a different sense of urgency which is maybe just comparable with the medical sector. The thing is that a system that does not work in telecom can generate huge, huge, revenue loss. So, this was our background and our experience. Having working with very large IT systems which were quite important. For the last period of time, up to 2018, both myself and my team, we were involved with IoT systems. Still telecom, IoT in large business to business deals. So that alone was quite an important vertical and it still is an important vertical which translates also to the real estate. So, basically IoT was our touching point. And where we came in and experienced with real estate, with the real estate businesses through this IoT where we had a lot of experiences. We wanted to transpose this experience into real estate. And this is how we started back in 2018.
Milan: You mentioned that it was telco business. But not national business. It was international business, if I am correct.
Vlad: With customers from Australia to Canada, all continents, all geographies. Yes, especially the IoT part.
Milan: Yeah, because I am coming as well from the telco sector and I’d worked for an international company or one daughter company of Deutsche Telekom but we exchanged experiences among daughters so I know that this environment is very diverse because it serves many sectors. It does not serve just real estate sector, it serves also medical sector, hospitals, IT sector, banks and everyone has different …
Vlad: …critical infrastructure, even agricultural system, livestock and … Yeah! A lot!
Milan: Exactly! What is common with real estate is that real estate is as well. Really diverse.
Vlad: Yes, and the very and one of the biggest asset classes. Then there’s a huge ecosystem around it. So it’s not just the asset in itself, being a residential or an office or a logistic building. It’s everything that’s around it and it’s a full industry. And that makes it alone quite interesting and challenging in the same time. And now with all the pressures that come from the sustainability reporting and everything and. Yeah, this challenging times generated by the economical situation that is spreading globally I think the real estate will have quite a significant impact in the time to come and with a tool like ours we are basically trying to mitigate this impact. And if you want we can discuss a bit deeper on how do we see this going forward.
Milan: Yeah! It will be very interesting. I’m interested in with what team are you working because I saw your product. I must say that what really interested me on the first sight, it was how easy, understandable this was. Not a standard dashboard that we can meet when we open old platforms like SAP 15 years ago, but it’s new, really fresh, colourful. You are playing with a lot of things that make it user-friendly. How did you come to this because, it looks really professional and user-friendly at the same time.
Vlad: As I started mentioning, we strongly believe that time is critical and really important. Especially in a b2b environment. So, our purpose right from the beginning was to deliver something that it’s so easy to use, that it actually even with the simple click should save you a couple of seconds. And, when you add up this, it will translate in hours on a monthly basis. And, for a business, it will actually transfer convert into full-time equivalent. So resources, so actual costs that you are able to save on a monthly basis. We are a team of six right now that we are working like a team of 12 plus partners. And we have a lot of partnerships on the business development side. Rarely on the software development side, because mainly we do this one by ourselves. And we do this internally. And yeah, we have professionals on the marketing side, on the sales side, on the business development side, and also on the software development side.
Milan: Did you develop something similar also when you were in the telco sector? Because you were handling a lot of technologies and you had to report under one roof. And it’s really very similar to what manager of large real estate portfolio does. He has many buildings, many services and you have, if you have in telco sector, many IoT platforms. Because we know that there is many and, in more countries. Then you have to handle it very quickly and you have to give this information to management in a very understandable form.
Vlad: Yes. In telecom we were heavily involved into both product development, capacity management, operations. So, there are a lot of processes we need to consider that in telecom the platforms in themselves are way larger than anything a real estate IT system will ever get to. Simply different scales. But we definitely took a lot of knowledge and tried to translate it into what we are doing now. We are still building an IT system. So, an IT system that we are aiming to be as scalable as possible, as cost efficient as possible and as user-friendly as possible. With feedback from people like yourself I think we’ve managed to do a decent job on it. And we definitely are aiming to improve this even further.
Milan: Did you hire someone from real estate or was there someone already in the team?
Vlad: Oh, actually no. But we listened a lot to what our partners and customers were saying. Actually, in the beginning, one of our main focus besides the product development was to absorb as much knowledge as possible. So, we were very present even in our customers premises. There were days in that where we just went to their offices, just for discussion, just to see how they are doing things. So, we pushed this customer support part in the beginning way higher than the normal contract value should have suggested. Just to be able to absorb all of this and to be able to merge the two: our background and our knowledge with the new knowledge and create something unique and something quite new.
Milan: Yeah! I will ask you first I would welcome if you explained us how does your platform work and who can benefit from it.
12:16 How does it work and who can benefit?
Vlad: Yeas. So many. Because right now PropTech, I would say that in real estate property technologies, so IT companies are becoming kind of mainstream. Usually, the real estate sector has started to get used with vertical solutions. So, one solution that addresses, uh I don’t know, facility management. One solution that addresses cost. One solution that addresses like invoicing, collections, service charge reconciliation … I can go on and on. Tenant engagement, leasing part … What we’ve decided to do is to follow the tenant life cycle horizontally. So, from the moment the tenant gets in contact with a landlord and he makes a request for a space with signing of the documents for that space. With him being transferred to property to the property management team. So from the leasing team towards the property management team, then the collaboration between the property management teams the tenant responsible representative and the facility management team up to community management so the communication with the tenant until the moment he exits. And basically closes the contract with the landlord or the asset manager. Because mainly this is the life cycle of a tenant. And with our tool we are able to follow this life cycle horizontally and improve along the way every piece of interaction that happens between the stakeholders. And the stakeholders will be multiple. Because, as I was mentioning, we already have leasing managers, tenant representatives, facility management and supplier companies, community and tenant engagement responsible, so on and so forth.
Milan: And are there some meeting points or or crashes with existing systems? Because all these verticals that you mentioned are relying on some kind of system. Or is it smoothly communicating with everything existing and in some way even improving uh its performance?
Vlad: Our own tools, definitely, work quite smooth. I can tell you that. But we are also very open. Because from time to time you do need to have integrations. And those integrations exist. To give you an example, there are integrations with facility management platform. So the CAFM (computer aided facility management) which are very specific to that task. Where we see it, we are the interface between also our product, being branded, we are the interface in front of the tenant. The tenant needs at some point the services that the facility management companies are providing. But they are pushing this request through our interface. And we communicate in real time with the facility management systems. By doing this we are also able to measure the interactions, create, so measure the contract agreements (the SLAs) and generate also performance indicators in the form of KPIs to make sure that the satisfaction of the tenant is at the highest level. And to make sure that the facility management companies with their system are doing the best possible job and they deliver the best activities. This is one example. Integrations, there are also with financial products. Like products that generate invoices where you manage the accounting, where you manage the collections maybe. So, where it is needed. We are integrating with this vertical system being mindful that our main purpose is to serve the tenant as best as possible in the interest of the landlord.
Milan: So, you can either inform the existing system for instance as you mentioned computer aided facility management and filter information that it needs ? for instance uh complaints from tenants. It does not bypass the CAFM, but it helps it work better. Are you able to filter, because I know that operators of uh computer aided facility management systems are often banning to file the tickets into their system because they are duplicated, repeated many times the same thing or they are not clear, they are not validated… So, there’s many issues with just handling this. Can you filter this?
Vlad: Yeah! I will give you a very specific example. If you have a landlord that have one or two buildings, I would say that it works for you to use directly the CAFM system. And maybe if you have a small 20 000 square meters GLA, it works like this. But when you have five, seven, ten, twenty buildings and in each building you will have between five and ten other suppliers and between these suppliers every one of them has one preferred tool, it becomes a nightmare in terms of management. And your branding in front of the tenant it’s simply not existing. Because every tenant from every place will see something different, which has nothing to do with your branding. And basically, there’s no standard communication towards the tenants, because obviously every other system communicates in a different way. Our aim is to centralize everything. And even if there are particularities, to keep in front of the tenant one interface, filter out what they are requesting and based on the category of the problem, the type of defect, the type of need, the type of request to put it in the right bucket and to the right responsible. And after we have done this, we keep all everybody informed. When I say “everybody”, maybe it’s the property manager, the leasing manager, the head of asset management, it depends. While we are mindful to do the regular follow-ups in order to have the problem solved as soon as possible. And we are able to find the responsible across the portfolio.
Milan: Yeah, the key is to find the responsible person as quickly as possible.
Milan: If you are doing this correctly and filter this information not to give this person information twice and yeah to make it working like it should.
Vlad: But we are also measuring this actually. We are measuring the percentage of being right. In the form of a KPI and usually we are trying to have less than five percent of the active or more than 95 percent of the activities allocated correctly and solved accordingly to the SLA.
Milan. Okay. Then it means that not only the manager of the large real estate portfolio gives your tool into his hand or her hand but also tenants? And, also supplier?
Vlad: Yes. With all stakeholders.
Milan: But supplier does not communicate with tenants. It communicates with a responsible person. And tenant communicates with responsible person. The communication is directly directed as the manager wants, yeah?
Vlad: Exactly so it’s up to the property management team to decide how these things happen. And basically, we can also treat differently every category of request, because some of them will be more urgent. Some of them will be just nice to have. And we can also have different let’s say time sets for any kind of requests. And depending on where you are putting it. Because as I was mentioning a leasing request is still a request. But it’s handled a bit differently. Because now it will have an offer attached. It will have a head of terms. It will have a lease agreement. It will have special requirements like, maybe, fit out budget. Might maybe I don’t know some extra services which it’s a push pull between the property and the leasing management team, but this is also something due to our flexibility this is also something that which we can improve.
Milan: Yes! When is the right time to implement your platform for assets, FM or property management? It’s about timing. Why this time is the right time to implement your solution?
22:04 When is ideal timing for using SigTree
Vlad: It’s the perfect time to implement our solution. Because we all know that things are changing. And actually now we are seeing a period where leases that were signed before the pandemic are expiring this year, next year or the next couple of years. Most of the leases especially the ones larger than three thousand, five thousand square meters will come with a reduction in demand, in the reduction in space. This will generate many smaller spaces that will now be available for rent. With portfolios having availability up to sometimes in the worst scenarios, I’m talking about Europe, can go up to 20 percent. But you have 20 percent of smaller spaces! This generates more operational activities for leasing. Those smaller spaces, more interaction with more prospects, more companies, also your company profile has changed because if until now you are targeting 500 employees, now you will end up targeting companies between 50 and 100 employees. Just for example. But the operational teams, actually, remain the same. Both leasing teams and property management teams. From time to time they even got smaller. So, basically you are in a situation, where you have more work with fewer people. Obviously the don’t increase the number of people. The workload increase and the number of people available to perform those tasks decrease. You can narrow this gap only through a platform that will automate as much as possible of these activities. So, you need to become here. And to get this, it’s only through an automation platform. And we aim to be that automation platform to handle these activities horizontally for the stakeholders that I’ve just mentioned.
When it is good to start discussing with us? Well, if you have spaces that you are planning to, that you are in the process of renting through different channels: working with brokers, working with 3D digital twins, whatever is your preferred way of promoting your space, you still need to handle those requests operationally. And you still need to transfer them to property management and to do something meaningful for your tenant portfolio. Also, to avoid further reduction of space when you renegotiate contracts. And obviously to avoid having tenants that will just be miswritten, that will eventually leave. That can happen as well.
Milan: So, it’s also leasing management platform. You mentioned prospects. It means that property or leasing manager or how is it organized in any real estate company, he needs to see who is the prospect, find it, record it and start to behave like part of the family or it can become part of the family and start to treat it like a customer, yeh.
Vlad: Yes. It’s also, I mean this interaction as you said that is also very-very human specific. And it depends on the leasing management team and how they are doing this internally. How we can support, because now it’s also quite important, we are working on our own private AI system. So, generative AI which is not Chat GPT. It is our own.
Milan: Yeah, you have mentioned that you celebrate today because it’s last training day of this identity.
26:22 Development of self-made AI
Vlad: You can start testing it in operation and commercially, actually from next week. Our initial tests show us quite-quite-quite good performance and we are quite excited about all the possibilities. And this I will actually be an integral part of this life cycle that I’ve just mentioned. So, it will start supporting data analysis, data processing across our platform. In many situations. Even receiving requests or complaints from the tenants, receiving leasing requests from the brokers maybe and in other areas of the platform. And I can tell you that the use cases are so diverse and you kind of see endless possibilities. If you understand what you’re doing because obviously this comes also with challenges.
Milan: And how this works? Can you compare it with chat GPT or other tools that are already available and people are integrating them into their platforms. But it’s working based on the tool developed by one public source, let’s say.
Vlad: So Chat GPT is generic. So, it’s is able to write poetry, is able to tell you historical facts. It gets wrong some of the historical facts but he’s still being able to tell you. He’s being able to carry on carry on with complex conversations. We are not aiming on that. Ours will be any specifically trained with real estate data. And it will perform tasks that are linked to real estate. So, we are not aiming to do what Chat GPT is doing right now, but we are aiming with it to support even further the activities which are already performed in our application. Just to make them faster and better because I already mentioned that now the workload increases, and the number of people decreases. And basically, this gap might very well be an AI.
Milan: Yes! So you are or you had to reserve some time for training it, and you will train it a lot and this will come this will be continuous process …
Vlad: It never stops. This will be a continuous process. The good thing is that we do we do this in a fully secure way and with data that is being contained. And there are also no privacy risks, because we control exactly the servers where the data sits. How this is being used I mean there are no funky foot letters saying that: Yeah, where we can use your data to do this and that. This will not happen with this scenario. It is a still a business-to-business tool. It will be covered by contractual agreements, so the training is on continuous, but it is continuous in a contained manner.
Milan: Yeah, but you are working with standard internet environment. You are generating information from public internet and …
Vlad: We might process information for the part from the public internet, but we provide this information in a private environment. To give you an example. Maybe we, you want to understand information about what’s happening with IT sector and see how this is impacting your tenant portfolio. What’s happening with IT sector is a public information but how we deliver this information is very private.
Milan: Yeah! So that the fruit will be delivered to the person that you are dealing with, yeah?
Vlad: Yeah, and we will be under contract.
Milan: Nice! So, congratulations!
Vlad: Thank you!
Milan: Does it have a name or it will be no name?
Vlad: We are evaluating multiple names we right now. Call it an Automated Real Estate System and if you take these letters from automated real estate system it spells ARES. But we are still evaluating this naming thing. It is an automated real estate system.
Milan. Yes, but as a PropTech startup I think the Ares was the only god the gladiators were praying to. So, I think there’s a good similarity or allegory.
Vlad: You know that it’s quite important in business in general and also for startups to be mindful and to choose your battles. But when you choose a battle, you better win it. It’s quite important for a startup.
Milan : At least, the mentality of startups is that they can die in any moment and they cannot sleep on how to say on a on a winning uh cushion. So, they have to work, they have to swim against current. So it’s, I think, a good name, but it’s up to you if it will be final. In any way, congratulations!
Vlad: And I think that’s feedback from our customers.
Milan: Did you test it with some? The pilot operation was with some customer or only internally
Vlad: We start customer beta testing not the next week, the week after. So, second week of October we start but better testing with the customer.
Milan: Okay? So, I think that everything will be as it should and we work as it should. I had question on current situation on the market but I think that you’ve explained it very-very well. The demand for flexibility, shortening leasing periods in contracts, push on decrease of leasing prices, either because of smaller amount of square meters but also other factors like increase of energy prices, etc. It’s really complicated situation. A lot of new suppliers and to handle it under one roof is quite a challenge. So I think that the situation was explained as it should be.
Vlad: There are also ripple effects and this hybrid ways of working. Because, I mean, most of the companies are now implementing a hybrid ways of working yeah? Three days in the office with two days from home. Actually, today, I’ve heard about a very large telecom operator that has decided that their workforce will need to come three days in the office and one of those days must be Monday or Friday because otherwise if you give the people the possibility to have three days in the office two days at home. Everybody will want to be at home on Monday and Friday. So, they’ve made it mandatory that one of those three days should be Monday or Friday. I have this, actually today and this has a ripple effect also on other real estate verticals. Because while people are staying at home the demand for logistics real estate increases because there are more online transactions. And because there is a high increase in interest rates, at least across Europe, now we are starting to see a demand increase on renting a residential unit. Which, by the way, we can cover as well because right now I think about 25 percent of our customer portfolio is from residential.
Milan: Yeah! It’s quite significant portfolio. If you are working with large portfolios, 25 percent is a large number. I wanted to ask something different but when you were mentioning this remote working model I would like to see, what can use tenant that has your tool in hand do when he’s at home.
Vlad: He, to understand perks and benefits that are being proposed by the landlord, to convince him to come back to the office. This is one?
Milan: Yeas, because he can see in his mobile phone via your app what’s what amenities are there how the transport is working, what taxi to call, where to charge his car, yeah?
Vlad: Yes. I mean all these information that are being provided by the landlord for us, events plus the possibility to book in advance, maybe some of the facilities like conferences center like maybe a parking spot i mean it’s also up to the landlord.
Milan: So, landlord is fully handling your platform. Can he give also name to it as he for instance call it like he wants, give their/his own logo?
36:46 White label platform enabling real estate companies to look like IT providers
Vlad: Exactly! It’s exactly. We are selling the platform as a white label platform. Because branding is important and all the communication that the landlord is intermediating through our platform will be branded as well. This is our intent.
Milan: Yes. This can be very important for real estate property companies that are fully focused on this and working for more real estate owners and more real estate portfolios because then they can have it looks like their own app yeah? And then the company looks like it is really IT.
Vlad: We are working with some of the largest real estate property management companies in the world, actually.
Milan: Yeah, I can see the benefits because you are helping them to look like really modern and offering tools that are really-really nice to have and really-really helping.
Vlad: Yes, and I can tell you that some of these companies are actually showcasing the use of this tool as a differentiator in some of the tenders where they are participating. Because based on your processes and your choosing on how to use it, it can really become a differentiator. It’s totally up to you as a company.
Milan: Yeah! Coming back to your team and your background as an IT guy or telco guy, I think it’s very-very similar, because, for instance, the company that I worked for, it was twice named as an IT company of the year and it was Telco company. But I think that the similarities are obvious there. But what are similarities of PropTech companies in real estate and classical IT company? Can you name some?
Vlad: Those similarities of prop tech companies?
Milan: Yeah! Or digital companies and real estate companies, yeah?
Vlad: Well, we found it there are some differences here. And actually most of the other prop tech startups that we’ve seen, have a mixed background. I mean usually they come with some after working in some with some of the big agencies or with some of the big landlords. Our background is slightly different. So, this is why we are doing things a bit differently and with some different outcomes. Now, the real estate is I think, everybody knows, is still one of the least digitized verticals. And you can show this because and also not many people have a lot of experience in absorbing operationally powerful digital tools.
Milan: I can underscore this (laughing).
Vlad: This creates some challenges this creates some challenges. And, also what we found is that there are a lot of gatekeepers in real estate. So, people that are tending to a certain kind of process which they do not want to change. So, from this perspective there isn’t much openness. But tides are shifting. I mean forced by the context that I’ve just described. Things are shifting to a more digitized world also in real estate. Other, I mean, you can’t really compare what’s happening for example in telecom with real estate in terms.
Milan: But I can compare it with the time when I was working in telco and I was handling old IT system that was really-really difficult and you need to go through training and afterwards even if you pass the training let’s say pass the exam to be authorized to work with the IT tool, it was really difficult, yeah? And even afterwards you had to call for help you, needed some help that’s because the IT tool was not working well. And you are team of six you are based in Romania. How, it’s really crucial to do it in a way that it’s working well and you do not need to go with everyone step by step every day. So, I think that this is the challenge that you need to.
Vlad: It comes back to that flexibility that I was mentioning because we were also kind of forced to build a product in a very flexible way to be able to absorb the customer demands. Yeah? In the beginning, basically, this is what we do. We absorb the customer demands and we are also able to formulate and to come with our own vision of doing things. And until now it worked perfectly in reaching that middle end and achieving some quite high satisfaction levels from our customers. Exactly by bringing this different and some fresh ideas, some different ideas that come from a different part of the business.
Milan: How long does the onboarding take? When company buys your product and the people who should work with it will learn how to work with it and …
43:03 The fastest onboarding
Vlad: Our fastest onboarding to date was absorbing 430 000 square meter GLA of office in two to three weeks. With everything that means configuration, the setting up the users, branding, environment, communication, launching the platform, doing some acceptance testing and everything. So, I think this is the fastest that we’ve done to date in about three weeks. Nobody believed that it can be done but now I can confirm that it can be done uh
Milan: For 400 square meters yeah?
Vlad: 400 000 square metres.
Milan: For 400 000. Yeah, for sure. 400 000 I’m sorry.
Vlad: For a lot of tenants, a lot of suppliers, I can tell you that. And also a lot of property managers that were handling, that are still handling that portfolio. But to mention, here we found there a very-very professional team of property management. Quite open, really good communications there were no big blockers, good project management also from their side, good stakeholder management, efficient way to gather demands and also to deliver in a very ongoing I mean a very lean methodology all those demands during the onboarding cycle. So, it really depends on the team, on the property management team and on the team of the landlord uh this timeline. It can take up to three months.
Milan: Yeah! So, it’s, I can imagine, because the teams are really different and today you know five generations are meeting in in one office space and all have different needs and different time needed to learn, to adopt these new tools yeah? And so some are stubborn and not welcoming it, some are really excited that this will help me, this will work and this will give me opportunities I was wishing. Yeah! So, I think that the leadership is inevitable. Once one buy your platform and can name it. For instance, some famous name. By the way, can you name some of your customers? Is it already published or they wish to stay in cover. Because once they buy it, they can want towards their customers they can look as if they made it themselves, yeah? And this is a really cool feature.
Vlad: Yeah-yeah! It is, I mean, where we were mentioning the large property management companies like CBRE, Cushman, Colliers, large asset management companies like, okay, known across Europe. Like Olshan, like in our region, global world, for example, is a large player. And yeah, there are others. Now I’m in Hungary, Poland.
Milan: I didn’t want to come up with these names, but when you mentioned it and there are clear market leaders like Colliers or CBRE you mentioned. But I wanted to ask that that, for instance, CBRE, let’s say. Or Colliers. It doesn’t matter. This is exactly the environment. Really-really big professionals in traditional real estate market. But adopting these new tools and selling it to their suppliers, to their tenants, to their even landlords, because landlords are their customers,
Vlad: Yes, they are selling it to the landlords in this case.
Milan: I mean this is really giving them wings and they really can show how good they are and how well developed. I can imagine that this is really helping them.
Vlad: The use of the tool doesn’t change much based on where you’re positioning. The incentive changes a bit. When you are a large agency like this, you don’t work with very-very high margins. So, this is why being efficient in the way you handle your portfolio is essential. Being efficient is quite essential.
Milan: Yeah! So, it’s quite essential.
Vlad: It’s critical if you can manage, let’s say a couple of buildings or some compounds with two or three property managers or you can manage it with five. So, two people are quite important.
48:22 Ideal start-up co-operation platform
Milan: Yeah! The last question I prepared for you. Thank you very much! I love your answers, okay? The last thing that we are dealing with is how do you propose cooperation between startups in CEE? Because we see that it’s really hard to connect them. The competition is really-really intensive. And it does not make sense from our point of view. Because the market is under-digitized. I think that it needs as much competitors as possible. To simply serve the market to persuade the market as soon as possible and to, it’s my idea of how it should work. But, here the competition starts on a very marginal part of the market and the people that are serving it think that this is the end. Yeah? That no one else will buy it. But it should be quite the opposite. We should be happy that we can cooperate in some wise spots or areas. And to handle as much customers as possible, yeah?
Vlad: So, you did save the most difficult question to be the last. First of all, what I’m seeing now, I don’t know of a proper platform that is set for startups to collaborate between them. When I say platform, I mean organization. Like is you. You have the PropTech organization.
Vlad: But also the PropTech organizations, most of them are kind of acting locally in every kind of country. So, this kind of hinders the possibility to collaborate with other startups from other regions.
Vlad: Another thing when you are a startup as I was mentioning, you are I mean you need to be flexible in working with other companies and to be flexible in doing some integrations. But if you have your own rhythm and your own path, you will always choose to do more integration with big players like Microsoft, SAP, IBM -that kind of products. I mean Yardy, stc. – tools that for example are used in the industry and tend to be more stable. A startup by its nature is actually changing things really-really fast. And even if you want to put two systems to work together, they might work quite well today but some of them I mean if some big changes are happening three months down the road, it might generate some additional operational costs. The ideal situation is that we end up serving really well some of the needs that happen in the real estate ecosystem and we are able to collaborate between themselves in an efficient way. Today this thing does not exist.
But we are also seeing here, there is a shift where big companies are starting to aggregate some of the small companies. This is happening within Europe. So, startups that have now raised large amounts of money they have started to aggregate other smaller startups. And I think this trend will continue. In the next few years for sure. It will continue this kind of forces some collaborations it’s happening in a more imposed way.
Milan: Yeah! I think that all that you’re mentioned is missing. Yes? So, I thought that you come up with some idea, that you tell us how should it work better.
Vlad: I’ll ask you something. I mean, do you feel that the real estate players are able, right now, to formulate exactly their needs of digital tools? Because this would also be a factor. This would also be a driver.
Milan: I feel a big scare of unknown, because they really do not understand, they do not speak the same language as most IT companies. My impression is that to find a guy who is excited about tech in real estate company is really-really scarce matter, that does not happen every day. And once you find it, this guy is not well understood in his own company. Yeah? He already has an issue because he’s bringing things that other people are scared of. Yeah? I think that the more tools we come that will be prepared for these people as user-friendly, then. Like a mobile phone, you know? No one is scared of using it. Even if they are using just one percent of its abilities but they are opening it, they are scrolling things. They can find whatever they do, but they are spending time with it. Yeah? Why not with the building that we serve. Why not to add it, let’s say into these and other tools that they are using? This time it is like shortening the onboarding period. Yeah? The meeting needs of more generations that are meeting in classic real estate company, this helps a lot.
Vlad: It does and it should help us to touch on what you’re saying.
Milan: And that you are able to serve with small team that it’s impossible to really-really give them daily support. This is not your case. You have to design the product in a way that they can do it themselves very easily. And only in some cases you are needed to be called yeah? So, yes.
Vlad: This kind of happened, look, with the mass adoption of IoT as well. Because it never happened as it was forecasted. It never happened. The main reason was lack of standardization and the fact that there is no, and this also today, there is no use case that cannot be solved in at least three different ways. Not even one business use case which cannot be addressed in at least three different ways. So with three different technologies this kind of happens right now as well. Because if you are searching for something like “I want to optimize my leasing process”,, there, I mean you will find solutions which, I can guarantee, they are quite different in approach. Of course, each and every one of them is able to optimize in some way. To some degree. Some part of it that process specifically. But this makes it really difficult for the company, the real estate company to absorb that product without very specific knowledge of how digital products are working. Still a lot to learn. There’s still a lot to learn on this on both sides. Startups, to be able to be as flexible as possible and to not push for large changes for the real estate players and the real estate players to have the right people with the right mindset to adopt the digital solutions.
Milan: It’s never-ending process. Anthony Slumbers highlighted it. Because real estate companies often end with built, yeah? But we have to learn, and we have to adapt things. So, and it’s this building is never ending and it’s improving. So, I think that this is the biggest difference between IT world where it is quite normal. There’re ongoing updates and things that are improving the life. But it seems sometimes that it’s just making problems.
Okay Vlad. Thank you very much! I really appreciate it. I think that we cannot finish here. We have to record one other episode, one other session, when we will show your platform in a way, how does it work from side of the property manager, how does it work from side of the tenant, how does it work from side of the supplier. Because it’s connecting a lot of areas that were not connected before and the connection was needed. So, I really appreciate it that you came up with this.
Vlad: Thank you for this. Thank you for the framework, thank you for the discussion. I think we touched on some meaningful topics that are circling the real estate world which I think all of us are striving to make it better.