📢 Our sixth podcast 🎙/article, now with  Nicholas White, Co-Founder and managing director of Smart Building Collective / Certification

This was  our first podcast with Nicholas White despite the fact that he is our co-operating partner for more than three years. We were very much pleased with his first ever visit in Slovakia and Bratislava. Smart Building Certification is the first smart building certification system in the world. We already have the first smart building certified in this system in Slovakia as well. This year was certified as first Nivy Tower. Thanks to his visit we had a nice opportunity to introduce this certification system as well as Smart Building Collective to Slovak real estate market in this special personal way. 

💡  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 challenge of smart building certifications: 🔦 “What is behind smart building certifications?”.

Links to the episode recorded on 15 December 2023  on www.youtube.com:

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Time stamps/chapters

00:00 Intro

01:23 First loaded question.

03:00 Disheartening experience of implementing tech over people

03:47 Research into human performance and burnout with CBRE

04:53 First aha moment, like there’s something here that we need to dive deeper into it

06:20 Where the idea was born?

10:57 Emphasis of the market years after

12:56 Not so much the batch than the process

15:56 More dynamic and context-driven model

18:31 Recertification on demand

19:29 How does it work?

22:22 Peer review model

23:43 What’s the best part about being an assessor?

26:25 Audit

28:40 Platinum over time with less and less technology? That would be interesting evolution…

31:39 How SBC serves to improve actual results of green certificates, WELL and/or ESG regimes

33:25 Power of collective

34:11 Certification of smart solutions

37:46 The original mission

39:21 Conclusion

 Complete Transcription

(Dear visitor, this is complete transcription of our webinar and podcast made by the AI “Whisper”. Whisper is very good, but not perfect and we dared to make just a very quick human supervision of its work. Anyway, if you find some gaps, errors, etc. do not let them disturb you. You can freely contact us or any of our podcast participants via LI profiles, should you wish corrections or further explanations)

 

Milan

So, good morning. Thank you, Nicholas, very much for accepting our invitation.

To be honest, this is the kind of podcast that we do with PropTech Slovakia and its partners either from Slovakia or from abroad. We do it in a way that we introduce solution providers, consultants or anyone who can help real estate sector and we miss this in our country. We see a big value and that’s why we want to introduce it also in Slovakia or help it in abroad. It can be used in any way.

First of all, very much thank you that you came to Slovakia. It really pleased us when we heard that you could come because we cooperate for, I think, more than three years now. We have two assessors from Slovakia that help you to certify buildings and solutions in this time period. But in Slovakia, we certified the first building only this year. So, maybe first icebreaker question: What’s your reason? Why do you do this? How did you come to Smart Building certification?

 

Nicholas

That’s a loaded question. But first of all, thank you. Thanks so much for the invitation.

And it’s wonderful to be here in Slovakia with you and the team and to be constantly learning and opening up the horizons and thinking about what we’re going to do together in 2024. I think that’s just a really exciting time for us and our partnership. Yeah, where did it all come from? That is a loaded question. But, you know, personally, I started in the corporate sector.

I was working on big, large-scale ICT kind of transformation projects where we were implementing technology into companies. And it was always quite disheartening how…

 

Milan

For which company, if I may ask?

 

Nicholas

Oh, I used to work for, and I don’t know if based on the stories that I’m going to tell, and I’m just kidding.

I used to work for Canon first, Canon Europe. So, that was a big one. And then I worked for Ricoh. So, actually, Japanese companies, big Japanese companies and all about technology and printers and cameras and all the exciting stuff. A lot of what is used now in this podcast as well.

But we were doing these big IT transformation projects, and I was always quite disheartened by how organizations would, in a way, run over their people in that process, implement tech. And here you go, it’s in, and you get the value. And it’s like, well, no, the value is a whole another… That’s a whole another ball game.

You have to unpack what that technology is actually capable of doing, and then you have to align an organization and its people to actually use the technology in a meaningful way. Otherwise, what’s the point? The technology can actually make things worse rather than better. And so, we ventured into, first of all, transformation management, helping organizations change and transform, and research. My co-founder, Elizabeth Nelson, she was doing all kinds of research into human performance and burnout and why do people do what they do.

And it was actually kind of this perfect match, bringing those two worlds together. Because if you can understand why things are the way they are, you can probably better transform them as well. And then we got this amazing opportunity from CBRE to do a large scale research project into what is the impact of the built environment on people. We said, well, yeah, that’s an amazing opportunity. That is so cool. We have to do that.

 

Milan

Isn’t that the project that Elizabeth wrote about in her book?

 

Nicholas

Yes. So, she ended up writing a book about it after it was done. But what they did is they built a living lab, they hung up all kinds of sensors, and they hung up different lighting and advanced lighting systems, circadian lighting systems.

And then they started changing all the things in the environment and doing cognitive tests on people to see what was the impact of those changes and the results were phenomenal.

It was clear, very clear, that the built environment has significant impact on our well-being, on our health, but also our ability to perform as humans. And so that was kind of  the first aha moment, like there’s something here that we need to dive deeper into it.

And there were kind of two main learnings that came from that.

One, the research was clear, there’s an impact from the built environment on people.

Two, the way that we got there with smart technology is extremely complicated, political, challenging, very, very complex.

 

Milan

It’s not easy to get there, so many technology.

 

Nicholas

No. No. So we implemented this technology, which took a lot of time and a lot of resource, a lot of money to make it happen. And then when the research was done, that living lab also completely died because there was no one there to continue using that data, exactly what I just mentioned about humans and technology.

So that was really unfortunate, but also we got the results we were looking for in the research.

And then we had multiple opportunities after that, one with Booking.com where we did a research with them that kind of led to their new campus. We did one with GSK in the UK.

 

Milan

Glaxo Smith&Kline?

 

Nicholas

Yeah, Glaxo Smith&Kline, a large pharmaceutical company. And every time you saw the same thing happen, the research was amazing, the living lab kind of died afterwards. So we started to say, where is there a standard that we can just plug into and do this research more collectively, community with less waste before and after? And that’s really where the idea started, where it was born.

 

Milan

It’s fascinating story. In my perception, there’s something that we missed as well. For us, it was clear that we need to deploy some technology in buildings that we know they needed some, but there was so much different information and we just didn’t have a clue how to do it in a way that would bring the results that we were seeking for, that the people will use the building, that the building will be energy efficient, that you will feel good and all this together.

And what we liked on your model was that it put all these values into one structure and into the process of how it should work on a long-term basis. So that’s why it was interesting and that’s why we decided to actually apply for assessorship program and then also to dive more into the process itself because it’s evident that it always needs improvement itself. We need to improve the process because no building is the same and that’s for us the main benefit stemming from the cooperation and that’s why we think that it makes sense. But ,what were your experiences with opening this idea to the market? How did buildings react? How did solution providers react? What did you notice?

 

Nicholas

Yeah, I mean, it was fascinating, right?  Because I don’t think the goal, the value, it was never to set out and create a certification. That became the product in a way because that’s how the market knows how to communicate, right? The real estate sector is traditional, it’s slow moving and it’s a natural beast. It knows what it knows.

And certifications is a world that real estate really understands. We were recently in the Verdantix report on smart building certifications. It was a pretty cool report and it was an honor to be in it. But they talked about over 170 building certifications globally for real estate and that’s just crazy. That’s a crazy number of certifications.

How do you kind of decipher which one is valuable and which one’s useful? And they all have different expertise behind them, they all have different research and they all have different reason. So there’s a lot of value in all of them. But what was interesting with certification was what the market knew and that’s something we could use to get into the market and talk to the market in a meaningful way.

And when we originally put our launch webinar together, we launched at the smart building show in Amsterdam in, I think it was January of 2020. And then we did a quick webinar right after that.

We had like 200 people show up, like first go. It was crazy. We were like, okay, there’s interest, there’s appetite. And then it’s okay, what is that? And how do we unpack it and actually pull value and help people transition or use this kind of mechanism to move their business forward, really… And with smart building, I think you just alluded to that. There’s a thousand different ways to get there. There’s extremely complicated ways to dive into it. And the value is also just immense. The value cases that come from it are infinite. There’s tons of them.

So, we started from a health and wellbeing and human performance perspective, but we soon unpacked sustainability. And now a few years later, the emphasis on ESG and EU taxonomy has gone through the roof. And then the whole market is wondering about ROI of smart and what is the value of smart and how do we actually pay for it? And does the owner of the building pay for it or the tenant pay for it? So all of these kinds of very complex discussions come out in this work that we’re doing now, which is just so exciting.

 

Milan

Another thing that I would like to highlight and ask you to a little bit more dive in is the nature of certification because traditional certifications

that we know, especially the most popular green building certifications like BREEAM, LEED, more and more popular WELL, these are very much about the batch. It’s very hard to get to them because the criteria are really strict, but it’s very often done in a way that it’s focused on one period of time that has start and end, you got a batch and then it’s very much open what will happen after.

And it’s more solved via in-use certifications because this you have to confirm after three years or, and there’s a process that you need to prove in the meantime, but it is not so continuous. The mistakes can happen from minute to minute. And this is not in the certification process.

And what I would like to highlight is the fact that smart building certification is not so much about the batch, but about the process that you have in which you can cover these continual activities. And you can analyze what does need more often and more frequent control, how much you can get from it, how much value you can build on it and what not. You can decipher a lot of questions that you

cannot in traditional certifications, but also it can help the traditional certifications because a lot of criteria are very similar, very the same. And if we put there the smart layer, it means that from the batch becomes a living thing. And you can really, really prove that these criteria, even if it was certified three, five, 10 years ago are checked on a daily, monthly, weekly, or whatever needed basis. So, this is what I would like to hear from you.

 

Nicholas

Yeah, it’s really interesting because when we, like I said, the smart building certification was born out of necessity, right? We said, where is there a standard that we can plug into and do these things easier with more efficiency? And we then looked into the market and we started doing some literature reviews and different searching for that standard. And this was 2018, 2019, there was nothing in the market.

The European Union was making a little bit of noise about the smart readiness indicator, but nothing had been published yet. So there was nothing to dive into and see what that was going to be. And we also were like, okay, European Union, it’s probably going to be slow and it’s not going to be quite as dynamic as what we’re looking to be a part of. And then my co-founder Elizabeth Nelson, she had had some experience with certifications in the past. She had supported a consultancy on well certification and even in BREEAM and LEED. And what we realized was that a lot of those certifications are exactly what you said. They’re a bit like a check mark exercise. You check the box, you get the stamp and you move on.

And we knew that smart in its infancy was going to have a certification as well because real estate love certifications and it was going to happen. And what we knew it couldn’t be was a check mark exercise where you list the technologies you have, here’s your checklist, here’s your stamp, next, move on. We knew it needed to be more than that. It needed to be about context. What are you trying to do with smart? What is the human component of smart?

Why are you actually putting in this technology and how are you building your organization and your process and your governance to actually pull value out of the things that you’re investing in? Because without that, it’s just technology. And technology without using it, it’s just a waste. What’s the point?

Why would you do it? So it needed to be more dynamic. And in doing so, what we did is we created together with a ton of really smart people and partners and universities and research and pulling all this information together of how to do it is a context-driven model

that, yes, it benchmarks on the total level and you can see how you do against other buildings, but it also benchmarks on sublevels. So you can drill down into the areas that you’re doing really well and you can celebrate those and you can make some nice noise in the market and you can tell your story about why you are so good in that space.

But it also allows you to drill down into areas of opportunity and things that you may have not thought of yet and things that you can push your building and your organization further to be thinking about. And that’s really the most exciting piece is that you’re continuously helping people to improve and to change and to encourage them to make a difference. The other innovation that I think is really exciting

that we announced at the beginning of this year, 2023, which we’re almost at 2024, it’s crazy, was that we moved away from recertification on every two years. What we saw from that model was that it is flawed in the sense that a building, first of all, why would the work that they just did with you to certify their building not be relevant two years from now? Because I think that that’s just crazy.

You just did a ton of really amazing, nice work. It should still be valid. So now what we do is we certify 2023. You are a platinum or a gold building 2023. And how the benchmark and how smart adapts and changes over time, we will all see together. But we launched recertification on demand, right? Because if we come back every two years and say, oh, you got to pay up. We got to go again. It’s like, well, two years goes quite quick. It feels like we just did this. And we’re really busy with other things right now. It’s not a good time. It’s too much.

But really, certification is only interesting in key moments for real estate, right? It’s either you’re trying to sell your property. You’re trying to lease it again or get new renters in. You’re trying to get some new financing for property or you’re trying to market it. An internal process, of course, is validating your work, benchmarking your work, making sure you’re doing the right things. So based on those aspects, we have launched recertification on demand, saying wherever you are in your process, you let us know when you need to get a facelift or re-engage with the collective.

 

Milan

Could you describe how does it work? What is the shortest possible time to go through certification process? And I can imagine that even if you do this on-demand certification, it’s second, third or fourth, it’s much easier then because you know what to expect from the process and the information are gathered or being gathered on a continual basis if you want to make. So, it can be much shorter process. How does it work?

 

Nicholas

Yeah, so the shortest amount of time is a month. It’s about four weeks. And the way it works is that we sit together with the stakeholders of a building and we do a kickoff session.

We exchange a ton of information back and forth about this project and the asset and what made their building the way it is and how they built their smart building.

Then we open up an online assessment that they fill in as a team. And they actually find this to be a really interesting process as a team. It’s an innovative process. We also believe that every step of certification should be useful in itself. It shouldn’t be that we’re giving you very, very complex documents and Excel files to fill in. You throw them over to us. They go into a black box and you never see them again. That’s not certification of the future. Certification of the future is open transparency where you can see exactly how you’re scoring and where you can add value to your asset. And not only add value to your certification, add value to your asset. That’s what we’re doing this for. That’s really where we need to be moving. And so it’s an online assessment that you fill in with your team. You take as long as you want for that. That’s actually the most time consuming aspect. Because if you have a centralized team that knows everything about the building, they can fill it in in a day. But if they need to source the information from the other parts of the organization, that’s the challenge. That’s the coordination aspect. So however long the building takes is how long they take. Then there’s a consistency check. It’s actually one of our proudest things. I think you were definitely a part of that. The consistency check checks your answers and it pulls out all the inconsistencies in your answers. So if you, for instance, say, hey, I have occupancy sensors. And then later in the assessment, when we ask you about coverage, you say 0%. Then there’s an inconsistency there. So, it pulls it out and it really checks your work for you, which is kind of cool.

Then it goes to our peer review model. And this is very, very unique in  certifications in the sense that we come from academia. We were writing research papers. And whenever you go to publish a paper, it gets peer reviewed. And we thought, shouldn’t buildings be peer reviewed as well? So, we have an assessor community that reviews the documentation and reviews the story with us. And the certification is really built up of quantitative data and qualitative. Quantitative is black and white. You either have an occupancy sensor in your room or you don’t. But there’s a lot of qualitative data around a smart building that is…

 

Milan

They need to be explained.

 

Nicholas

Yeah. You know, your process, your governance, your integrative design, your connectivity infrastructure, your mission, your vision, your business cases, your ROI plan, all of those things. And these assessors look at that and say, hey, we just assessed a bunch of buildings. We have some ideas. You know, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? And we also never thought that was going to be such a cool role for assessors. I don’t think we thought that that was something that was going to be so cool. And actually I should turn that question on you. Let’s do that in two seconds. I’ll finish the process. But then I want to hear from you, like, what’s the best part about being an assessor? You know?

 

Milan

It’s definitely the learning process because where else would you have a chance to read these fascinating things about the building setup or building challenge? And to be honest,

you work with some of the smartest buildings in the world. So, it’s a unique chance to learn about what challenges these buildings have. Where are the benefits? Where are the weak points?

And if you can find it and give your professional advice, because we, as assessors, are good, everyone, in something else. For instance, me, I am director of FM Institute. I’m expert on telco and legal stuff that is connected. We can say that I am expert on prop tech providers and someone else is expert on finance. Yeah. And to have a good composition of assessors on each building is actually really rewarding because you can get advice afterwards. Our advice is part of the report that the building gets. So, it’s learning either for them as for the assessors. It’s something like an exam that the assessor is going through.

It’s a survey for assessor full of information and then assessor just fills it in and he gives his own explanations, advices, and impressions from what he learns.

 

Nicholas

Yeah.

And the assessors are becoming incredible experts in the space because they’re seeing all these buildings so they know so much about them. And then once that assessor program ends or it’s finished then it goes to a report phase where we explain everything to the building back what we’ve observed in the scoring, the quantitative, qualitative scoring, and they have a chance at that point to say, oh, here’s low-hanging fruit, here’s long-term vision goals, here are things you should speak about and stories we can tell. And we have a content team and a research team that can help with supporting buildings to tell those stories. That’s really, really nice. And there’s also an audit at that phase. And that audit is we don’t believe that the audit should be too painful that you’re only throwing over documentation for us to again put in that black box and you never hear anything again. It should, actually, also be very useful in organizing your documentation around smart building. And you have it all in one place in the assessment with this report. It gives you a full view on your smart building infrastructure.

Milan

It should prove all functionalities and the coverage actually on the buildings that they are either there and how far.

 

Nicholas

Yeah. And then when we go to reassess in the future, we literally just open that assessment back up and it’s about adjusting the things that have changed. And that assessment might change as well because it’s a dynamic process we’re in.

The smartest building of this year will definitely not be the smartest building five years from now because everything is changing and smart is moving really, really quickly. So the benchmarks are also changing. So if you want to stay as an example, you can be a platinum 2023, you may not be a platinum 2027. You might need to reassess to say, you know, am I still a platinum and what have I learned and what do I need to change?

 

Milan

And maybe you will come to a conclusion that you want to be or that you don’t want to be platinum anymore, that it’s too far.

 

Nicholas

Yeah. Well, and what’s interesting is there’s a really interesting thing happening in the market right now where some of the platinum buildings, you know, they say, I think we went too far. There’s too much tech in this building and it’s, we’re not getting the ROI or the value out of that tech. So , there’s this rationalization happening in tech of what is the right level of technology to be putting in buildings. And we’re definitely a part of that process right now and that story and that research. And what we need to do as an industry is keep our finger on the pulse of what is actually adding value and driving value in real estate. And the certification should reflect that. So, how cool would it be if the platinum certification over time is actually less and less technology? I think that would be a very interesting, you know, evolution.

 

Milan

Definitely. I would just like to switch to, I know that smart building certification is certifying some of the smartest buildings that are out there on the market, but European Union has some nice initiatives, like you already mentioned, smart readiness indicator. And the ambition of the idea is to offer some model of evaluating smartness in the building that can be used for every building in European Union. The model is quite robust, but it’s application not. We already went through it. What are your plans? Do you also plan to offer some kind of help to organizations with these schemes? There’s a lot of noise about ESG, EU taxonomy, a lot of big real estate portfolios. They go through GRESB reporting. More and more real estate is touched by this and this wave will be stronger and stronger each year. How would like you to help this sphere?

 

Nicholas

I’m so excited for 2024 and 2025, 2026. You know, I think this is a long game we’re playing here. Real estate is long. Everybody, this whole industry is slow moving, so we have a ton of work to do to move it, right? So, one of the things that’s really interesting that happened at the end of last year is that with the smart building certification, we launched that in 2020.

And one of our hypotheses was that no two buildings are the same. And we actually proved that. We did, you know, after 20 certifications of buildings, we saw that no two buildings were the same in how they built their smart building, their technical infrastructure, these types of things.

So we actually changed our name last year to Smart Building Collective to double down on that concept of we need to do this together. We need to be a community working on these these issues together. And the certification itself should be crowdsourced. It should be a product of buildings and solutions and consultancy firms and MSIs and research institutions and universities. And it needs to be feeding the framework and how we evolve. So the best buildings and the best solutions that we find are helping to influence the world to be better, to move the real estate industry forward.

And actually all these incredible initiatives that are happening around the globe, looking at other certifications or standards or law or taxation, those are all part of that feeding network. It’s part of that collective ecosystem.

And smart, if you look at smart technology, it’s a tool. It’s literally a tool to achieve the results that we’re actually after, right?

So, if you look at like a WELL certification, the technology can help you to prove what makes your property healthier and more prone for human performance, you know.

It helps you to prove the value for those certifications, for BREEAM and LEED. The sustainability aspect is the same way. The technology helps you to prove your energy consumption and your water consumption and the things that help you to achieve a BREEAM or a LEED certification. SRIs, the smart readiness indicator, EU taxonomy, they all have that same principle of results and values that you’re trying to do. So we’ve created alignment on all of those different fronts. And it’s about how do we support people achieve their goals and learn about those very complicated, challenging things. Like EU taxonomy

is not an easy subject and it’s a journey we’re all on together. So yeah, the team is prone and ready to support you understand those different aspects, but also to see how the smart building certification can help and how technology can help you achieve those things.

And then more interesting than that is the collective. You know, the smart building collective is made up of a ton of really smart developers who have done it already and are learning together.

Having them meet each other and learn from each other is so important. And the collective is also made up of 50, 60  different partners that are solution providers, consultancy firms, MSIs, which is master system integrators. And they are all at your disposal to just work with and learn from. And let’s put questions to them and put them on panels and learn from them in meaningful ways.

 

Milan

Actually, I noticed that year after year or year and a half, you realize that  some technologies help smart buildings more than others. Some integrate other services. So the correlation with the smart building was really high and you realize that you can use the same survey or very the same survey for solution providers so that they can match.

 

Nicholas

100%. Yeah. And now for consultancy firms. So we’ve launched, I think it was at the end of 2022, we launched the solution certification. And I think we certified over 35, 40 different solutions, which are all powerful tools. It’s a huge pool of knowledge in smart building.

All of these people are, the one thing that I think Elizabeth and I are most proud of is that the people that are attracted to the smart building collective are wonderful. They’re open, they’re caring, they’re supportive. They’re trying to help each other. They’re trying to help their clients. They’re a really wonderful group of people. So tapping into that is just, it’s a pleasure, right? It’s learning from each other is just so cool in that way.

 

Milan

Thank you. Thank you, Nicolas. Maybe one last question. Where are you from? Because your accent is really American, but you are from Holland. So what’s your…

Nicholas

Yeah. So I’m originally from New Mexico of all places in the United States. And I went to school there. I did all my studies in the US. My mother’s Dutch and she was an immigrant to the US. And it’s interesting when you have a parent who’s an immigrant, because I think most people, what you’ll see is that they magnet back to where their parent came from to see what it was all about. And so I got stuck in the Netherlands 17 years ago. And that was really fascinating because I couldn’t have planned it. Your life unfolds the way it unfolds. But when I was working in the corporate sector, the Dutch working culture is fascinating. It’s a society that has all the social netting for everything you could possibly imagine. The healthcare is affordable, the childcare is affordable. It’s very much a social country.

So, people have a lot of privilege there in being able to live, especially if you compare it to how we have lived in the US. The discrepancies are massive in the US. You have very rich people who have everything and you have people who don’t have anything. And that split is massive, which we didn’t see, I didn’t see in the Netherlands. But then burnout was still going up and it’s like, why? So like studying work in Holland and how it works or the Netherlands, that was fascinating. And then it never went back, not yet at least.

 

Milan

So your original mission was to fight burnout, right? Am I right?

 

Nicholas

I think the original mission is to help people and to help people achieve the things that they want to achieve in life whilst being good for the environment. I think that’s important that we start taking care of the earth, that we start being better to the environment, that we believe that we have impact on the environment and that we try and mitigate that and try and make that better. And real estate was interesting because it was an asset class or a subject area that has the largest impact on the environment. It accounts for 40% of global emissions comes from the built environment. So, if we can move that needle the smallest way possible, we have a huge impact on what’s going on in the world. And so, it was the work that we’re doing, brings this passion of helping people to achieve the best thing that they can possibly achieve in their lives whilst helping the environment and then doing in a crazy interesting subject area. Smart buildings is fascinating technology, real estate, innovation.

Innovation, startups, scale-ups, corporates, people. It’s awesome.

 

Milan

Very nicely said. Thank you, Nicholas. In half an hour, you will have a visit of the first certified building here in Slovakia. So I hope that you will enjoy it. I have to thank you for this discussion. It was fascinating for me again. And I hope that our cooperation with you will last

for much longer than what we had a chance to go through together. So thank you very much.

 

Nicholas

Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to be here. And yeah, I look forward to everything we’re going to achieve in the future.

 

Milan

Thank you.

📢 our second podcast 🎙/Article with Vlad Costea, first and hopefully not the last from podcaster.sk

This was our first episode from the Podcaster.sk, second with Vlad Costea, who despite our three days lasting grilling in person in Bratislava, we hope has become our dear friend and, altogether, fifth episode of our podcast series Real Estate: Better so far. I have enjoyed this episode even more than the previous ones. We had very nice opportunity to speak in person and the location is truly remarkable. I strongly recommend this studio for other podcast creators as well. We have to come back ourselves.

💡  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 again focused on our challenge: 🔦 “How to make life of large real estate portfolios easier ”.

Links to the episode recorded on 24 November 2023  on www.youtube.com:

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Time stamps/chapters

00:00 Introduction

2:33 Start of the Three Minutes Pitch

4:45 Internal Private AI

5:10 Differentiation from Competition

5:48 Ideal customer

6:34 Customers that we are proud of the most

9:36 How hard is it to become a supplier of a large global RE agency?

11:49 The tenant is the hero

12:49 Branding and Corporate Identity at stake

14:55 Product covering the whole tenant lifecycle journey

18:39 Storage of data via cloud or physically?

25:37 How do you enjoy Slovakia?

 

 Complete Transcription

(Dear visitor, this is complete transcription of our webinar and podcast made by the AI “Whisper”. Whisper is very good, but not perfect and we dared to make just a very quick human supervision of its work. Anyway, if you find some gaps, errors, etc. do not let them disturb you. You can freely contact us or any of our podcast participants via LI profiles, should you wish corrections or further explanations)

Milan

So, thank you very much! This is our first podcast in Podcaster, but I’m very happy that we are finally here because I heard only good things about recording here. Any podcast edition that I’ve seen was good. This is our podcast series called Real Estate Better, and it is designed in a way that we do it together with our partners.

We, I mean Proptech, Slovakia, and our partners are usually innovators that help the real estate sector function better.

And we also devote each edition to Real Estate Challenge. The last one was „How to make life of large real estate portfolios easier.”

And we a little bit did not finish it. But I even didn’t dream that my partner will come to Slovakia because I had a discussion with him via online space.

And now he is with me together. We are here in the studio.

Dear Vlad, thank you very much that you came.

 

Vlad

Thank you for the invitation.

 

Milan

That you accepted our invitation! Because we wanted to have a real experience either with your product, with you: How are you as a person?

And we would like to grill you even in this way.

 

Vlad

Okay, you should try.

 

Milan

Okay, let me – let me place the first question.

You know about me that I like startup and scale up competitions. I like pitches.

I know that it has a lot of disadvantages and you do not have a good chance to see all that you need if you look for a business partner.

But I think that it always gives you a solid starting point.

You can always refer to it.

And if you could be so kind and try to do a three minute pitch for me.

 

Vlad

Three minutes? Oh!

 

Milan

Three or five minutes pitch.

Usually, it is three minutes and two minutes are for Q&A’s.

 

Vlad

Okay.

 

Milan

So if you could in three minutes tell us, I will stop it not to prolong this first question. And after three minutes, I will tell „Enough!” and I will place first question, okay?

 

Vlad

Perfect. In this case, it means that I have enough time to say that Bratislava is an amazing city.

 

Milan

Thank you!

 

Vlad

And now to start with the pitch. We offer an operational platform for real estate property and leasing managers.

And real estate has been changing throughout the last few years, even during the pandemic and post the pandemic.

And now we face a situation where the leases that were signed before 2020, so 18, 19, will renew starting with 2024.

And most of them will renew with a lower space value than they were initially signed.

This will create a lot of small spaces that will become available in the market with an average availability of around 15% across Europe.

And our product has adapted over time to address this changing environment.

So therefore, we offer an application that supports operationally the leasing managers when they interact with the tenants and they interact with the brokers.

And then they transfer the platform, the lease sync space towards the property managers.

And then we support the property managers to do a better job in engaging with the tenant, monitoring suppliers, offering perks and benefits and have an effective communication.

All of this by reducing the number of hours necessary to handle a very, very large portfolio.

So we target large portfolio, mixed portfolios, ideally of commercial offices, retail spaces, residential, we can cover all of them.

In a nutshell, this is our solution to, I would say, a growing problem.

Because the problem is that the volume of work for the real estate professional increases during this period of time.

We are heading towards a recession, but the number of resources usually decreases because all the companies are reducing budgets and they are reducing costs.

And I think we have the right tools and a very, very good product to help all of this.

Of course, in the age of AI and supported also by AI because this is something that we managed to do in building – our own internal private GPT product.

That will support everything that I’ve said until now. And I think I am under three minutes.

 

Milan

Yeah, one minute left.

 

Vlad

One minute. So, I have time to speak also a bit about our competitors and what differentiates us from them.

And the main thing is our possibility to absorb large portfolio really, really fast.

So do all the configurations on the fly because the product is very, very flexible and it’s also aligned with the current ways of working.

So, while other products focus on verticals, we focus horizontally and extract value from the tenant journey from lease to property management to exit or release.

 

Milan

Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Two questions. Who is your ideal customer?

 

Vlad

Asset managers that own a diverse portfolio that they want to manage their portfolio by leasing it and having a yearly yield out of it.

And when I say large portfolio, they should be higher than 200,000, 250,000 square meters of office and commercial spaces and on residential side, maybe more than 500 apartments.

So, they can be developers that they do internally the leasing and property management processes, or they can be asset managers that have their property and leasing management processes,

or they can even be large agencies who sign a lot of deals, maybe exclusivity deals, and are also handling on behalf of the landlord’s leasing and property management processes.

Milan

And the second one, the last one, could you name some of the customers that you are the most proud of?

 

Vlad

I’m proud of all of my customers.

 

Milan

Excellent!

 

Vlad

And actually with most of them, we have a very, very low churn rate and actually most of our customers have increased their portfolio over time and have come with new requests from us.

We work with the largest agencies in the market and right now we are present in Romania and Hungary and we work with the largest asset managers from those countries as well.

So especially in Romania, we work with the biggest asset manager. Hopefully pretty soon we will work also with the second biggest one.

And in Hungary, it’s just something that has started happening now this year and it will continue to grow in 2024.

 

Milan

Thank you very much. It now should come applause during the competition. My impression is very good. You went without any presentation, so it was pure personality.

I miss a couple of things like a little bit of history. What’s your team? It’s very hard to include it if you do not have this structure and to get it in the minutes.

But I think that we’ve heard about it during our first edition, so I didn’t need it. But on the competition it is needed because they do not know anything about it, of the competitors and they need to get a feeling who they’re speaking with. What’s the first experience and what’s the history of the solution that competes and why is it better than the other competitor basically.

 

Vlad

That’s the idea that the team comes with the story behind it.

 

Milan

But this we covered in the first edition of our series, so I’m happy with how you use these three minutes.

I would like to ask you a question which is quite closely related to what you have mentioned. To become a supplier of a big real estate agency, there are just four or five of them in the world.

And it’s often dream of startup to become a supplier of this agency. How hard is it to become such supplier because I know that the process is really difficult and you passed, am I right?

 

Vlad

Yes, yes, yes. Well, it’s a matter of luck. But if you define luck like preparation meeting opportunity. You do pass through a lot of questions, thousands of questions, because they do need to understand that you would be a reliable partner over time.

We all know that there are risks associated with startups. The ecosystem is in such a nature that startups are pushed to sometimes expand quite quickly.

And from time to time, this kind of expansion or chasing customers, new market, pilot projects, expanding the product, the team, sometimes they don’t end up well.

And, actually, I’m quite sure that we will see, unfortunately, a lot of companies that now in 2024, they will stop existing, maybe because too high spending, maybe because the deals are not closing fast enough, and things like this.

And obviously, the large corporations need to ensure that once they have invested the cost of adding a new product, the cost of including the product into operations, those costs would not have been for nothing.

I mean, they would need to ensure that they have a good return on their initial investment. And it’s understandable.

 

Milan

I can imagine building a brand takes time and costs. Thousands of people work on being somewhere and facing the relationship with bad partner can really harm it.

 

Vlad

With a product like ours, take into account that we are interfacing the tenant. I mentioned in one of my posts on LinkedIn lately that the tenant is the hero here. And the hero goes through a journey.

We don’t want the journey of the hero to end badly. So obviously, both the large asset managers and also the large agencies, they have to take very good care about their heroes.

So because of this, also the audit verifications to ensure that the product is stable and solid enough.

 

Milan

Yeah, I think that last time we covered the question, a very big advantage of your product is that it is widely labeled product, and real estate company can name it after itself.

But then comes also the responsibility that, okay, I will name it by myself. But then it has to be 100% reliable, and I need to have this partner really living.

And that’s why I understand why it should be secured.

 

Vlad

It’s not only a matter of branding. It’s also a matter of imposing your corporate personality, because the product, not only that it’s brandable, it’s also configurable to follow the ways of working and the processes of our partners, of the asset managers or the agency.

So yes, they do, and they are able to present them in front of their customers as a product of their own. And for us, this creates indeed a huge, huge responsibility.

 

Milan

Okay. And to go a bit deeper into what you offer, who are you connecting? My impression was that the number of interfaces your product offers covers a really impressive spectrum of real estate verticals. Because it can not serve only to asset managers, as you mentioned first, but also property, also leasing, also FM. And it gives quite a user-friendly interface also to tenant and to supplier.

 

Vlad

It sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

 

Milan

It sounds complicated, but if you make a simple graph, and you connect these three things, and you give the asset manager or the property manager, who will be the person setting up, who will get which information, because what’s unique on your platform is that it’s not done by IT expert, but by real estate experts. It’s so that the real estate expert shapes how it will work and what functions the tenant and the supplier will get, or another vertical.

 

Vlad

Yes. Well, to clarify, so we follow the tenant journey, as I mentioned before. Horizontally. So obviously following this journey, we need to cover all the stakeholders involved.

So, right in the beginning, when we can’t even call him a tenant, it’s just a prospect. He will be interacting with the brokers and he will be interacting with the leasing managers.

So, this is the first moment where we offer the necessary tools to the leasing management team to interact with both the brokers and the potential future customers in a faster and more effective way.

This will mean submitting offers in certain various forms of templates. It can be through a mail, it can be through a document, it can be through a message.

I mean, just that an offer that potentially has been approved by top management reaches its target, the target being the future tenant or the broker that will present maybe in the same time to the tenant the offer.

So now we have these players. After we move along on the tenant journey, let’s say that the tenant signs a pre-contract and has some negotiations.

Maybe you have some of the legal departments here. After this, he signs the contract, the lease agreement. You definitely have legal departments here that will also review the documents.

But everything needs to be kept in a central place because 5, 7, 10 years down the road, this information will become quite valuable.

So this is where we ensure that everything is centralized. All the discussion, all the negotiations is centralized and made available over time.

After the contract has been signed, there is a transfer between the leasing management team and the property management team.

This transfers also implies some sharing of information and sharing of documents.

If this kind of information is present only on the mail, and let’s say that big companies have turnover with personnel and one of the leasing manager leaves. He leaves with all the emails.

And if some of the documents remain, but they are in a, let’s say, OneDrive or Dropbox kind of format, they are difficult to find. It’s difficult to extract reports out of it.

It’s difficult to have notifications or pop-ups after a certain period of time. So this is also something that now we handle.

And then when we transfer the tenant, now the tenant is happy. He had got his amazing feet out. He’s moving into the building.

For him to remain happy, there needs to be some tenant engagement that needs to happen from a community or directly from the property manager.

And also there needs to be, the property management teams need to ensure that the problems are solved swiftly.

So quickly with very good communication that the suppliers, the validated suppliers do all their job.

And this is where we measure a lot of performance indicators. A lot of KPIs, the suppliers will have service level agreements that they will need to fulfill.

And also there will be value added services that will also need to be delivered correctly towards the tenant.

So following the tenant also on this path of coming regularly to work and liking the place where he is working at.

And why not? This is also something that can improve the percentage of people that come back to the office over time.

 

Milan

You mentioned that it will be stored in one place. I noticed when you showed us the platform that you were always accessing via internet and via some kind of browser.

 

Vlad

Browser, mobile app.

 

Milan

Is there a demand for even other solutions like storing it on physical server in the headquarters of real estate company or is this cloud way of storing things acceptable for all?

 

Vlad

Such a good question. I’ve seen discussions happening. I mean, right now, none of our customers use anything locally on a local server stored in a private server that they own.

But we do provide private installations for any of our customers. So, any of our customers, they will get their own installation and their own data and the data cannot mix between itself.

This being said, I do believe that it is a trend. I do believe that at some point in time, not everything will need to be and will be on the cloud because right now the cloud costs are growing sometimes even on a monthly basis.

And at some point in time, it will not be cost effective.

 

Milan

Because if I imagine the number of services and if you have large portfolio, the number of services will be exponentially higher.

And if the platform is so good that it’s very easy to record the services, to copy the agreements and set up SLAs and you want to report KPI of nearly all the services that are somehow connected with the building.

In large portfolio, this must generate a large amount of data. So it can be relevant.

 

Vlad

Yes. The amount of data generated from this kind of engagement is not that big. But we also know that now it’s a time of where a lot of certifications that are touching on sustainability and on the ESG targets, there are a lot of certification.

Parts of this imply getting large volumes of data by monitoring the location, the building in itself.

A lot of developers are installing from the get-go all sorts of sensors that are monitoring the air quality, the temperature, humidity in the room, natural light levels and things like this.

This kind of information generates volumes of data. And this is the type of information that in my view can attend.

And in the future, it also will be stored locally and managed and aggregated locally.

And what it will be presented outside through the Internet and on the cloud, it will be only the type of data that will generate decision making on the spot.

It’s something that you need right now, right there, and you need to have it access directly on your mobile.

So if you wanted to have it on your mobile phone, yes, it needs to go through the cloud.

But otherwise, if it’s a type of analysis that you will do on a monthly basis, maybe in this case, it can work with local PC, local servers.

Local area network.

 

Milan

You know that I’m a bit deeper in FM matters and we quite often meet with computer-aided facility management, but this is not computer-aided facility management.

I understand that it even supports this kind of software in a way that a large real estate portfolio gets another view on it.

 

Vlad

Yeah, so facility management services is definitely a critical component into managing the building in the right way.

But it does not manage anything related to portfolios or to, let’s say…

It’s very concrete, very special, and it relates to every building. Every building can have different…

For me, from time to time, it’s like going to the university exam and grading your paper by yourself.

This is what happens. For me, the property management teams or the asset management teams, they should have a helicopter view over their whole portfolio.

And they should have tools by themselves to have data aggregated in one place and to monitor everything that is happening at portfolio level.

From the moment where you have 15, 20, 25 buildings, you will not work with only one facility management company. You will have many of them.

And it becomes very challenging into monitoring the performance of each facility management company.

And the CAFM softwares are not built for that. They are built for specific tasks, operational tasks that ensure a proper maintenance of the spaces and of the building.

 

Milan

Thank you, thank you. This is a very interesting view, although I cannot fully agree with the statement that the need for a number of FM companies can be always present.

I can imagine that there can be a big integrated contract. And for some companies, this is the solution. Even global ones, that they have one integrated provider.

But I meet on the market both solutions, that there is a number of FM providers and there it is even more needed to have one check for all of them.

 

Vlad

Yeah, but listen, even if it’s one company, because I do get this, you have very large companies that can sign a group deal, but you will still have different teams and not all the teams perform the same. And you need the view on each building separately. How is it performing? What kind of services are there? Which do well, which do worse?

So I think it makes sense to see it like this.

 

Milan

Okay. Thank you – thank you very much. It’s in many respects enlightening me. I think that you are second, third day here in Slovakia.

 

Vlad

Third day, yes.

 

Milan

You started with the sentence that Bratislava is amazing.

 

Vlad

It is. I’ve never been to Bratislava.

 

Milan

How do you enjoy being here? What did you like the most? I don’t know, because I was grilling you since Wednesday.

 

Vlad

Yeah.

 

Milan

Yesterday we had even I took you on one brand new conference that I really liked.

I liked it as well. I mean, the subjects were very interesting.

 

Vlad

I mean, one idea that I got from that is that residential investment will surpass commercial investment over the next period of time, which I also believe it to be true.

So, yes. And now coming back to Bratislava. I don’t know why I’ve been to the big capitals around it.

So I’ve been to Vienna a couple of times, to Prague a couple of times, to Budapest a few times. I’ve never been to Bratislava.

And what I find in Bratislava is to be a mix of all of these capitals, but with its own identity.

So you will definitely remember that you’ve been to Bratislava because it’s not a copy-paste city and it gets bits and parts.

I mean, you can definitely get bits from what you see in Prague, definitely parts that you see in Vienna, definitely parts that you see in Budapest.

So especially this is my perspective. Also, amazing specialty coffee. I’ve tried, I think, five places I like the coffee.

And I actually bought two bags of specialty coffee that I will prepare myself at home. I’m quite passionate about it.

 

Milan

Thank you for mentioning this. Bratislava is a special city because the original, it was called Prešpork.

But the original inhabitants here, they used to speak three languages. They used to speak Slovak, Hungarian and German because Austrians speak German.

And it’s due to the unique locality. It’s on the borders of three countries.

And the Czech Republic is closer due to another reason that we were one state for a very long time. So it’s understandable.

And what you notice is really, I did not see it in this way, but you reminded me.

I think you need to come from outside to be able to, and everybody will have its own perception of it. That’s quite clear.

So once more, Vlad, very, very much. Thank you for coming. I think that spending time with you was very good.

 

Vlad

Thank you. And by the way, your hospitality is amazing and I highly appreciate it. So thank you for that.

 

Milan

Thank you very much.

📢 Webinar 💻 /Podcast 🎙/Article with Vlad Costea and sigtree.

💡  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:

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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.”

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Time stamps/chapters

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

07:56 Team

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

 Complete Transcription

(Dear visitor, this is complete transcription of our webinar and podcast made by an AI Whisper. Whisper is very good, but not perfect and we dared to make just a very quick human supervision of its work. Anyway, if you find some gaps, errors, etc. do not let them disturb you. You can freely contact us or any of our podcast participants via LI profiles, should you wish corrections or further explanations)

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.

07:56 Team

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.

Vlad: Exactly.

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.

Milan: Yes.

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.

Milan: Yes.

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.

Podcast 🎙 s Vítkom Souralom a Flatzone.

💡  Nehnuteľnosti lepšie je náš webinárový a podcastový formát pripravovaný PropTech Slovakia a našimi spolupracujúcimi partnermi zo Slovenska a zo zahraničia.  Každá epizóda je venovaná aktuálnym výzvam sveta nehnuteľností a nášmu zdieľaniu tipov, riešení a skúseností s tým, ako ich zvládať. Tretia epizóda je venovaná rezidenčným nehnuteľnostiam: 🔦 “ Stavať byty na Slovensku? Áno, ale za koľko, kde a kedy?”.

Milan Bogár, zakladateľ PropTech Slovakia hovoril na túto tému s Vítom Souralom, projektovým manažérom Flatzone Flatzone je najväčší poskytovateľ dátových riešení pre analýzy rezidenčného trhu nehnuteľností v Čechách. Výborne slúži skoro všetkým českým developerom, ale aj bankám, investorom, konzultačným spoločnostiam, dokonca aj médiám a koncovým užívateľom. V súčasnosti vstupuje Flatzone po niekoľkoročnej príprava aj na Slovensko. Tu si môžete vypočuť alebo pozrieť náš podcast o tom.

O bytoch na Slovensku, hlavne o tom

– za koľko ich najlepšie predávať a nakupovať,

– kde ich stavať a

– kedy robiť s nimi správne investičné rozhodnutia?

sme sa rozprávali s Vítom Souralom zo spoločnosti Flatzone, ktorá sa zameriava na umožňovanie dátami podložených rozhodnutí pre developerov, banky, investičné spoločnosti, média, ale aj konečných zákazníkov.

Kapitoly pre jednoduchšie nájdenie toho, čo hľadáte:

00:00 Úvod

02:04 Icebreaker

03:58 Cesta Vítka Sourala k realitnej profesii a technológiám

6:28 Ako vznikol Flatzone a komu všetkému začal postupne dobre slúžiť

11:24 Získavanie dôvery

13:21 Unikátnosť Flatzone v. konkurencia

16:30 Kto všetko sú zákazníci Flatzone

20:46 Ukážka Flatzone (ako to funguje) a aj kedy vstup investora do nájemného bývania

28:53 Šírka možnosti využívanie Flatzone kdekoľvek na Slovensku

34:24 Plány Flatzone

35:57 Predstavenie na Slovensku – edukačné podujatie z Realpadom

(Vážený návštevník, toto je kompletný prepis nášho webinára a podcastu urobený s AI Whisper. Whisper je veľmi dobrý, ale nie dokonalý nástroj a my sme sa odvážili urobiť len veľmi rýchlu ľudskú kontrolu nad jeho prácou. Každopádne, ak nájdete nejaké medzery, chyby atď., nenechajte sa nimi rušiť. Ak si želáte opravy alebo ďalšie vysvetlenia, môžete nás alebo ktoréhokoľvek z našich účastníkov kontaktovať prostredníctvom našich profilov na LinkedIn)

Milan: Príjemný pekný deň všetkým prajem. Toto je náš webinár a zároveň podcast, ktorý voláme „Nehnuteľnosti lepšie“, alebo v angličtine „Real Estate Better“, podľa toho, či ho pripravujeme pre zahraničný alebo domáci trh. Pripravujeme ho s PropTech Slovakia, čo je naša platforma na mapovanie riešení pre realitný trh a nehnuteľnosti vo všetkých fázach životného cyklu a pripravujeme ho s našimi partnermi doma a v zahraničí, s ktorými zdieľame vlastne typy, skúsenosti a riešenia na aktuálne výzvy zo sveta nehnuteľnosti.

Tou dnešnou výzvou, ktorou sa budeme dneska zaoberať, sú rezidenčné nehnuteľnosti. Ako veľmi dobre vieme, naša krajina dlhodobo trpí veľmi zlým pomerom počtu bytov na obyvateľa. Potrebujeme skrátka bytovú výstavbu ako soľ. Je to jednak nová výstavba, ktorá tu značne zaostáva a takisto obnova toho existujúceho bytového fondu, ktorý je zastaralý.

A preto dneska sa budeme baviť hlavne o rezidenčných nehnuteľnostiach, ale nie len z hľadiska stagnujúceho predaja a prenájmu, ale aj z hľadiska správneho nastavenia ceny, výberu lokality a teda robenia správnych investičných rozhodnutí.

A preto som veľmi rád, že naše pozvanie vlastne prijal mladý, talentovaný profesionál Vít Soural zo spoločnosti FlatZone, ktorá zatiaľ pôsobila iba v Čechách, no vyvinula veľmi dobré riešenie práve na správne stanovanie ceny, na výber lokality, na robenie investičných rozhodnutí a budem veľmi rád, keď sa budeme dneska o tomto riešení môcť viac pobaviť.

Dobrý deň, Vít.

Vít: Dobrý den, Milane. Moc dekuji za pozvání!

2:04 Icebreaker

Milan: My sa veľmi tešíme! Inak musím povedať na úvod taká icebreaker poznámka alebo otázka: Či ešte stále spievate? Lebo fakt, že pred pár rokmi som vás zaregistroval v jednej talentovej súťaži. Boli ste tam s hitom Get Lucky, ale v takej českej verzii.(Smiech)

Vít: (Smích) Jo, jo. Pořád zpívám. Pořád zpívám. To je dobrá poznámka. Dobrej research. Opravdu jsem byl v týdletý soutěži Hlas Česko-Slovenska. A to už je fakt dávno. To už bude tak deset let. No a teďka máme ještě pořád kapelu, tak pořád se ještě té hudbě nějak věnujeme.

Milan: Super, super. 2012.

Vít: 2012? Ty brďo! No, toto letí.

Milan: Viem, že vtedy ste to zaspievali a postavil sa, vlastne chvíľku to trvalo. Bola tam ešte Dara Rollins, bol tam Michal David, bol tam Mike Spirit, vlastným menom Michal Dušička.

Vít: (Úsměv) Michal Dušička.

Milan: A oni tak váhali a potom Michal David vlastne to spustil a Mike Spirit sa vzápätí pridal. (Smiech)

Vít: Jo, to byl to nějaký super pocit náhodou. Jak se ti dva porotci o mě přeli. Kdo si mě vezme? To bylo takové vtipné. Já myslím, že to už na tom záznamu ani není. Já jsem jim potom, jak jsem byl ještě v tu dobu takový drzej, tak jsem jim řekl: Tak se nehádejte. Tak to bylo vtipný. Noo.

Milan: Super. Ja som držal palce, lebo je fakt je dobre, keď vidí človek talent a spievať viete. No a ako ste potom prišli k tým realitám, ak sa môžeme spýtať?

03:58 Cesta Víta Sourala k realitnej  profesii a technológiám

Vít: Tak ono to bylo takový přirozený. Já sem v těch realitách vyrůstal už úplně od malička.

Já sem z rodiny developmentu. Můj táta, tak si založil před, už to bude skoro 30 let, tak si založil developerskou společnost tady v Český republice. Jmenuje se Trigema. Je to jedna teďka z největších  developerských společností tady v Česku. A tak sem v tom vyrůstal. Místo toho, abych chodil, já nevím, po kroužkách, nebo tak, tak sem chodil po stavbách.

Milan: Ste mali doma krúžok.

Vít: Přesně tak. No a potom  jsem se postupně tomu začal věnovat i nejdřív  z marketingového hlediska. Pak jsem šel studovat do Anglie. Nejdřív business management, potom na magistra nemovitostí a plánovaní. A bylo to fakt takové přirozené, že jsem se nadchnul jednak i pro  nemovitosti, tak i vlastně technologie. A toto jsem se potom snažil nějak skloubit dohromady. A díky tomu vlastně i vznikl ten projekt, ve kterém teďka pracuji a který to docela hezky snoubí. Jsou to data z nemovitostního trhu. A jednak jsme pořád i v tom developmentu, ale jednak jsme pořád i v těch technologiích a v těch startupech, kde je možný využívat spoustu kreativity a pořád vymýšlet něco nového.

Milan: To je super, lebo my sa vlastne v tom technologickom svete, v proptechovom svete, veľmi často stretávame s firmami, ktoré o tých realitách veľa nevedia a tomu realitnému svetu sa strašne zle počúva. Oni fungujú úplne inak. Ale to je super, že u vás sa to snúbi s tými realitami a v podstate z realít ste vychádzali a potom ste začali až narábať s technológiami a s tým, ako môžu tým realitám pomôcť. Takže to je super.

6:28 Ako vznikol Flatzone a komu všetkému začal postupne dobre slúžiť

Vít: Jo, to bylo fakt skvělý. Trigema s námi měla za začátku hodně velikou trpělivost, takže jsme si mohli  zkoušet spoustu experimentů, co by fungovalo a nefungovalo. Dostávali jsme spoustu spatný vazby na ten produkt, který jsme připravovali. A postupně se to dostalo do takový formy, že už teďka to v té firmě pomáhá a pomáhá to i ostatním developerům, kteří řešili úplně stejný problémy.

Milan: To je super. Mohli by ste nám povedať viac o tej ceste k tomu, kedy to začalo pomáhať, kde to začalo vlastne najviac pomáhať a koľko to trvalo? Lebo viem, že máte už tú infraštruktúru vybudovanú celkom robustne. Nie je to jednoduché  pripraviť ten model na to, aby ste riešili tie otázky, ktoré treba?

Vít: Jasně, jasně. Tak vlastně FlatZone jako takový  vzniknul v rámci marketingového oddělení Trigemy už někdy v roce 2011. Tam  kolegové z marketingu  začali sbírat normálně ručně data z ceníků developerů. Začali z toho dělat takový kvartální analýzy, který postupně začali  propagovat i do médií, aby se ten trh trošku kultivoval, aby se vědělo, co se na něm děje. Postupně se na tito kvartální analýzy nabalili i další firmy, které s Trigemou teďka spolupracují jako Central Group a Skanska Reality. No a postupně, já nevím, o pět let později, těch dát už bylo tak strašně moc, že už jsme si říkali, že je to potřeba nějak zautomatizovat, aby nám to nebralo tak strašně moc času. No, a tak jsme se na to začali dívat. S kolegama,  jsme vymysleli způsob scrapingu, kde jsme na každou tu stránku, kterou jsme do posud sbírali ručně, tak jsme na ní vytvořili takového robota, kterej ty data sbíral automaticky. No a postupně těch robotů přibývalo pořád víc a víc. Bylo potřeba kolem toho udělat i nějakou infrastrukturu. No a začínalo se to proste i dost prodražovat, protože takováto věc není úplná sranda. Takže jsme přibírali nový lidi do týmu a říkali jsme si, že máme už teď skvělé řešení. Víme z trhu, že ostatní developeři řeší úplně ty stejný problémy. Tak proč z toho neudělat projekt, kterej oddělíme jako samostatnou společnost? A začneme tyto stejné služby, které dodáváme do Trigemy, nabízet i ostatním developerům. A takto vlastně vznikla ta B2B stránka Flatzone-u. Máme ještě druhej produkt, který je přímo pro lidi, který hledají nové bydlení.

Tam je normálně vyhledávač FlatZone.cz. Ten je pro všech zdarma. Je to agregátor, něco jako na letenky Skyscanner. Na stejným principu funguje i tenhle ten vyhledávač. Takže, abych to shrnul, tak jsme vznikli takhle interně v tom developerovi. Postupně jsme se oddělili do samostatný společnosti. Teďka aktuálně už na českým trhu jsme největší poskytovatel dat pro developery. Zhruba před pár měsíci jsme expandovali na Slovensko a máme teďka velké ambice, aby se ty služby pořád zlepšovali a rozširovali ješte dál.

Milan: Super. Veľmi sa mi páči tá myšlienka  zdieľania. Prečo to nevyužiť aj pre ostatných? Nevnímali ste na začiatku problém konkurenciu? Že by to ostatní developeri vnímali negatívne? Že nebudem to kupovať od iného developera, keď sme vlastne konkurenti? Ako ste sa s týmto vysporiadali?

11:24 Získavanie dôvery

Vít: Ze začátku bylo pár developerů, který se třeba, chci říct bálo, ale neměli zase takovou velkou důvěru v to, že opravdu je to produkt na řešení problému. A ne, že je to jenom nějak proste, já nevím, mystery shopping od Trigemy.

Milan: Aby ste získavali informácie o konkurencii.

Vít: Přesně. Takže takovýhle otazníky ze začátku byly, ale tam je zásadní výhoda v tom, že všechny ty data jsou sbíraný externě. Jsou to veřejně dostupný data, který si stejně sbírá každý. Takže ta platforma slouží hlavně k tomu, aby se vám odbourala ta manuální stránka toho sběru a čištění a vyhodnocování dát. Jo, a aby ty data byly pořád ready, aby bylo k nim možný se dostat vlastně vždycky úplně ad hoc a rychle, a potom využívat ty data k vylepšování obchodních rozhodnutí. A nepracuje se s žádnýma interníma datama. Takže postupně  tahleta věc, že se pracuje s externíma datama a druhá věc, že jsme získali důvěru postupně samozřejmě od spousty developerů i některých bank a médií, tak už to vlastně vůbec není problém.

13:21 Unikátnosť Flatzone v. konkurencia

Milan: Ja sa inak musím priznať, že my ako Proptech Slovakia sme súčasťou takého väčšieho Proptech spoločenstva. Je to Európska Proptechová asociácia. Robili sme 4 ročníky takej európskej súťaže, kde sa každý rok prihlásilo okolo 200 takých inovačných spoločností, ako ste vy. A musím sa priznať, že som nevidel riešenie, ktoré by podobne  pokrývalo tie potreby, ako je to vaše. Toto si fakt cením. Ako to vnímate vy s konkurenciou? Vlastne máte tam nejakých? Niekto, kto by začal skôr, ako vy, alebo kto vás vlastne teraz nasleduje. Máte tam nejakých followerov na trhu? Vnímate to nejak?

Vít: Nějaká konkurence je, ale vždycky se mi zdá, že žádná firma na to nejde úplně stejným směrem.

Milan: Presne to mám na mysli, že sú tam spoločnosti, ktoré vlastne analyzujú trh a robia s tými dátami. Ale s tým, že to vychádza priamo z potrieb developera, z nejakého interného tímu, no tak s tým som sa ešte nestretol.

Vít: Jasný, jasný. Jako vždycky, jak říkám, někdo třeba cílí víc na realitky, takže ten produkt zase musí být úplně jiný, i když jsou to market insights a jsou to data z trhu. Někdo zase cílí jenom na naceňování nemovitostí, což třeba hodně funguje, když ten trh roste a když developeři můžou optimalizovat zisky tím, že zvedají ceny. Ale potom ve chvíli, kdy trh přestane růst, tak samozřejmě tam už je to těžké nějak optimalizovat. Jsou i třeba projekty, které se zaměřují jenom na katastrální data. Naše  sesterská společnost, Cenová mapa.org, tady v České republice,  sbírá primárně data z katastru nemovitostí. A to zase otevírá  spoustu dalších dveří. I v té kombinaci s našimi datama teďka, jak jsme se dali dohromady, tak zase otevírá spoustu nových příležitostí. Takže já myslím, že těch firem může na tom trhu existovat i víc a úplně si nekonkurovat. Samozřejmě někdy prostě nějaká konkurence, nějakej overlap je. Ale dá se to. A ne všechny projekty jsou úplně stejní.

Milan: Super. Mohli by sme si povedať aj to, kto je ten cieľový zákazník? Pre koho ten váš produkt slúži najlepšie? Povedali sme si, že developeri. Aj že je tam niečo aj pre bežného spotrebiteľa, ktorý ten byt nakupuje a chce si len zistiť, aké sú ceny v danej lokalite. Ale toto je bezplatný produkt. Takže asi tým hlavným zákazníkom toho vášho produktu je developer, spoločnosť, ktorá sa zaoberá správnym umiestnením toho svojho projektu a neskôr aj predajom. V ktorej fáze vlastne toho životného cyklu je ten váš produkt vlastne využiteľný? V ktorej viac, v ktorej menej možno?

16:30   Kto všetko sú zákazníci Flatzone

Vít: Jo, máte pravdu, že vlastně náš primární klient tak je developer, případně investiční společnost, nebo banky, finanční instituce, konzultanti dokonce i…

Milan: To je veľmi široký záber!

Vít: Jo, všichni potřebují data prostě. Takže pro všechny tyto firmy se vždycky dá něco, nějaký use case najít. Co se týče toho cyklu, toho developerského projektu, tak já bych řekl, že ty data pokrývají úplně celý ten lifecycle toho projektu. Úplně od začátku, když si ten developer dělá market research, kam začne investovat, po ten moment, kdy najde nějakou akviziční příležitost a chce si ji vyhodnotit. Jestli vlastně na ní dokáže vydělat nebo ne. Až po přípravu projektové dokumentace, protože je strašně důležité, jak se nastaví flat mix, aby všechny ty metry, které jsou v hrubé podlahové ploše, se dokázali vytěžit tak, aby to vlastně i ekonomicky dávalo smysl. Po moment, kdy projekt přijde do prodeje a samozřejmě potřeba se podívat na comparables z trhu, aby se nastavil konkurence schopný ceník a aby se nastavila případně i nějaká strategicky výhodná obchodní strategie. A potom ve finále, když už ten projekt se prodává, tak je potřeba monitorovat celý trh ohledně toho, co dělá konkurence, jak rychle prodává, za jaký ceny prodává. Aby potom  ty projekty a ty ceny a případně i ta strategie se dala hodně flexibilně a hodně rychle měnit. Takže to je vlastně primárně ze strany developerů.

Ze strany bank můžu zmínit například use case projektového financování. Obchodní oddělení, který připravují nabídky právě pro developery, tak potřebují vědět, jak ten trh vypadá, aby dokázali připravit nabídku na to, kolik jim půjčí peněz.

No a potom investiční společnosti, který spravují velká portfolio, řekněme nájemních bytů, potřebují si je pořád přeceňovat. Můžou vytáhnout nějakou cash z toho, že si refinancujou volnou equitu. Na tohle všechno jsou potřeba data. Tuto třetí možnost na Slovensku zatím ještě moc nevidíme z hlediska těch nájemních projektů, ale určitě to přijde.

Milan: Ano, tiež sme sa bavili na tej poslednej konferencii, bolo Property Forum v Bratislave, v podstate s najväčšími slovenskými developermi o tej možnosti investovať do nájomného bývania. A všetci hovorili o tom, že Slovensko vlastne len čaká na toho inštitucionálneho investora, lebo tie marže, alebo tie yield-y, ako sa hovorí v tom našom sektore, nie sú dosť vysoké na to, aby sa to zatiaľ uživilo. A to napriek tomu, že práve cena nájmov výrazne stúpla v poslednom období. A to som sa tiež chcel pýtať, že vlastne ten váš nástroj aj vie odhaliť to, že kedy už bude ten správny čas na ten vstup toho investora? Toto by bolo super, keby ste nám možno aj ukázali.

20:46 Ukážka Flatzone (ako to funguje) a aj kedy vstup  investora do nájemného bývania

Vít: Jasně, Jasně. Tak můžeme nasdílet obrazovku teďka.

Milan: Budeme hovoriť presne čo vidíme pre poslucháčov. Diváci si to budú môcť pozrieť.

Vít: Jasně, Jasně. Sdílím obrazovku teďka.

Milan: Super, vidíme to.

Vít: Já jsem se tady připravil takový report na tuto oblast, kde v centru je Nivy.

Milan: Super! Aby som povedal pre poslucháčov, že je to najvyexponovanejšia oblasť momentálne s najväčšou výstavbou. Asi nikde na Slovensku sa nestavia tak momentálne ako v bratislavských Nivách. A sú tam asi všetci najvýznamnejší slovenskí developeri. Je tam J&T, je tam Penta, je tam YIT, je tam Immocap. Takže vidíme, že tých projektov je tam skutočne veľa. Čo tam môžeme vlastne vyčítať, vďaka tomu vášmu nástroju Flatzone?

Vít: Jasně. Tak vlastně z tohohle nástroje se dají vyčíst všechny hlavní informace o všech tech segmentech v rezidenčním trhu. Jo, takže tam máme informace o tom novostavbovým – primárním trhu, o tom trhu těch starších bytů, my tomu říkáme v česku second-handy,

Milan: Staré byty…

Vít: Přesně tak, a pak i trh těch nájmů. Takže když skombinujeme všechny tyhle ty tři segmenty informací, tak se potom dokážeme na ten trh podívat hodně komplexně a dokážeme si právě že i třeba namodelovat nebo si interpretovat nějakou strategii do budoucna. Takže my jsme se bavili o tom trhu pronájmů tady v této oblasti, kde máme v centru ty Nivy. Máme tam i kousek Starého Města, máme tam i Růžinov, tak tady  je vidět z tohoto grafu, že za posledních 12 měsíců ceny pronájmů stouply z nějakých 12,3 eur na metr čtvereční, teďka na 13. Samozřejmě toto je průměr individuálního trhu. Vlastně až přijde ten institucionální trh těch nájemných projektů, tak uvidíme, že ty ceny budou úplně nikde jinde. Takže ta Bratislava nemusí úplně čekat na to, než ty individuální pronájmy se zvýšej do výšin, kde ty yield-y budou dávat smysl. Ale to, co třeba pozorujeme v Česku, tak je to, že ty institucionální projekty jsou třeba o 40-50 % ještě dražší než ten průměr individuálního segmentu.

Milan: Ale ten štandard tých služieb je tam aj o to vyšší, hej?

Vít: No, samozřejmě, máte proste mnohem víc služeb, máte recepci, máte tam facility manažera, někoho, který se vám stará o několik nedodělky. Máte tam i ten tým těch lidí, který se o vás postará vždycky, když potřebujete něco zařídit. Většinou i v těchto projektech je také i vybavení. Takže samozřejmě ta cena vyšší odpovídá i těm více službám. Není to jenom to, že developer si říká, že tak potřebujeme, aby nám to vyšlo, tak to prostě nastřelíme se stejnýma standardem o 50 %. Ale samozřejmě, aby se to vůbec nějak uchytilo, tak to ty vyšší služby musí mít. A ono, ta cílovka je sice menší, ale zase na druhou stranu pro tu cílovku teďka žádný takovýto produkt neexistuje. Takže určitě na tom trhu je i místo pro nějaký takový projekt do budoucna.

Milan: Super. Super. Čo sa týka tých cien bytov, tak veľmi sa mi páči na tom nástroji, že momentálne tá situácia je taká veľmi netransparentná. Že v podstate aj mladé rodiny, rodiny ktoré rozmýšľajú nad tým, kde vložiť peniaze, tak nevedia celkom presne, akú cenu stanoviť. Ako by im tento nástroj vedel v tomto pomôcť?

Vít: Tak můžeme se podívat na historické vývoje těch cen. Například, když se mrkneme třeba na ty novostavby, tak tady v té konkrétní lokalitě ceny nám stouply z 5 000 € na metr čtvereční, na nějakých 5 500 €. To znamená, že ty nabídkový ceny pořád stoupají. Ale když se podíváme na ceny second handů, tak je to vlastně pokles ze 4 100 € na metr čtvereční, na 3 900 €. To je samozřejmě dané tím, že ta nabídka hodně stoupla za poslední rok. No, samozřejmě hypotéky, nejistota a tak dále, a tak dále. Ale je vidět, že ty ceny novostaveb se pořád drží, pořád mají nějakou svoji hodnotu. Zajímavé je se podívat i za kolik se doopravdy ty byty prodávaly. Máte jednu věc:  ponukovou cenu, ale druhou věc máte i ty prodejní, posledně nabídkový ceny. No, tam je také vidět, že kdyš je takhle sprůměrujeme, ta cena se v podstatě poslední rok drží na stejném levelu. Takže pro lidi, kteří si chtějí koupit novou nemovitost, v podstatě nemovitosti z dlouhodobého hlediska jsou vždy dobré rozhodnutí. Je to prostě konzervativní investice, ta nemovitost jako asset roste s inflací, neznehodnocuje se. Právě že naopak. Pokud chcete bydlet v pronájmu, tak samozřejmě vám to teď vyjde víc výhodně, protože nebudete platit až tak velký ceny, jako třeba splátky hypotéky. Ale zase na druhou stranu vaše nájemní ceny se budou každým rokem zvyšovat při rent review. Takže ve finále za deset let, vy budete platit mnohem víc, než byste platili na třicetiletí hypotéce. Takže je potřeba určitě přemýšlet z dlouhodobého hlediska. Já si myslím, že je potřeba z naší strany ten trh edukovat o tomhle, protože ta finanční gramotnost z hlediska investic i na tom  retailovém trhu je relativně malá a určitě lidi by měli mnohem menší problémy, kdyby dokázali obecně pracovat se svými penězi.

Milan: To určite. Vidím tam na tom obrázku mapku. Je tam vlastne výsek tej exponovanej oblasti Bratislavy, Staré Mesto,  Ružinov,  v centre Nivy centrum. Takýto polygón, alebo takúto oblasť, takýto výsek si môžem vďaka Vášmu nástroju, alebo developer si to môže vďaka vášmu nástroju urobiť kdekoľvek v Slovenskej republike?

28:53 Šírka možnosti využívanie Flatzone kdekoľvek na Slovensku

Vít: Přesně tak. No. Já to jen takhle rychle ukážu, pro posluchače to i popíšu. Vlastně tato platforma slouží k tomu, že si můžete vyrobit jakýkoliv report na jakýkoliv segment toho rezidenčního trhu kdekoliv po Slovenské i České republice. To znamená, že projekty, nebo ty reporty, které už máte uložený, tak se k nim můžete kdekoliv zpátky dostat a podívat se na to, jaká je tam teď aktuální situace. Ono se vám ty projekty automaticky aktualizují, abyste s tím už neměli vůbec žádnou starost a žádný manuální čas. Všechno je to zautomatizované. A potom, když chcete novou lokalitu, tak si dáte jako nový report. Vyberete si nějakou lokalitu, o kterou máte zájem, takže řekněme Košice třeba.

Můžete si takhle vybrat z vyhledávače nebo si můžete  nakreslit polygon úplně kdekoliv po celé republice. Můžete to i kombinovat. Vynechávat oblasti.Upravovat různě. Je to opravdu  flexibilní. Můžete se tam nastavit filtry, takže pokud třeba nechcete analyzovat celý trh, tak analyzujete třeba jenom projekty, které mají víc než x jednotek celkově. Nebo odundáte projekty, u kterých zbývá už jenom třeba dvě jednotky. Filtrujete podle třeba developera, když si developer chce udělat analýzu konkrétního konkurenta, tak má možnost. Podle jednotlivých, jestli jsou byty, domy, počet izieb, ceny, výměry, máte tam toho fakt jako spoustu. Potom je možnost ještě i třeba nějakého manuálního zásahu. Můžete se podívat na to, jak často se vám to aktualizuje, s jakou historií dat pracujete, jak si segmentujete tu lokalitu v rámci té jedné lokality ještě na menší území. Jaký vůbec tam chcete vidět výstup, protože můžete vidět výstupy agregované nebo dokonce i surová data, vlastně položková data, s kterými potom můžete pracovat v Excelu. Takže je to komplexní nástroj, přes který se vlastně dokážete uspokojit většinu use-casů, které máte spojené s investicemi, developmentem a nebo financováním nemovitostí.

Milan: To vyzerá super zaujímavo. Bohužiaľ nebudeme mať priestor dneska rozprávať o detailoch toho, ako to funguje. Ja len pre ilustráciu poviem, že takýto polygón asi keď sa zadá, a zadajú sa tam parametre, ktoré chcem vidieť, tak ten motor, tá infraštruktúra za tým na tom chvíľku pracuje a ten report vygeneruje za nejaký čas. Nie je to hneď, ako lusknutím prstu. Ale je za tým proste nejaká logika, nejaká práca, aj toho automatu, toho robota. Koľko sa môže čakať na taký report?

Vít: Přesně tak. Všechna tá data aktualizujeme každý deň, čož je super. Všechno ta data aktualizujeme každý den, což je super, kdyby to člověk dělal manuálně, tak nikdy není schopný tohle, co to dokázat.  Takže celá databáze se aktualizuje každý den, vždycky v noci. A potom vlastně tyto reporty se vždycky ad hoc generují na základě toho požadavku, které si nastavíte v té aplikaci. A může to trvat, podle toho, jak velká je ta lokalita, tak může trvat několik minut až dokonce třeba i několik hodin. Protože když se podíváme na starší byty, tak tam je třeba spoustu inzertních portálů, který je potřeba nejdřív dát na jedno místo. Potom zdeduplikovat, aby se stejní inzeráty neukazovali na více místech a například tohle trvá hodně, hodně času.

Milan: Hej, my máme na Slovensku 25 portálov asi.

34:24 Plány Flatzone

Vít: No, přesně tak. Takže takhle to funguje. Výhoda toho je, že žádný data nejsou předpočítaný a že vlastně si tam do té platformy můžete nacpat jakýkoliv data, podle jakýkoliv metodiky, v jakýkoliv lokalitě. Opravdu tam nejsou vůbec žádný hranice pro todlencto.

Milan: Perfektné. Vidím, že aj ten nástroj je celý preložený do Slovenčiny. Keby ste chceli ísť do Európy, hej? Do inej krajiny. Koľko trvá približne príprava na to zanalyzovanie toho trhu? Alebo ako by sme mohli očakávať tú vašu expanziu, keby ste chceli ísť do Európy? A vôbec, chcete?  Chcel som sa spýtať aké máte plány ďalšie s Flatzone…

Vít: Plány jsou určitě rozšiřovat se geograficky. A pro nás je strašně důležitý, abychom ve chvíli, kdy budeme zveřejňovat ten nástroj v nějaké další zemi, abychom měli alespoň, řekněme, rok historie těch dat už nasbíráno. To znamená, že pokud začneme sbírat data třeba ještě tento rok na nějakou další zemi, tak to znamená, že potom vlastně zveřejnění toho nástroje bude až ten další rok.

Koukáme se teďka na země, kam by bylo nejlepší expandovat. Koukáme se na sousedy, samozřejmě. Hodně nás láká Polsko. Hodně nás lákají i další země. Třeba Belgie je hodně zajímavý trh. Nebo potom i nějaké další vyspělejší trhy. Protože zase otázka je, proč to rovnou nehecnout na nějaké ty prime  markety? Takže todlecto si ještě všechno analyzujeme a určitě tento rok chceme rozhodnout, začít sbírat data a potom za rok vlastně se rozšířit.

35:57 Predstavenie na Slovensku – edukačné podujatie z Realpadom

Milan: Super. Viem, že na Slovensku vlastne chystáte Webinár, alebo nie taký Webinár, ale vlastne také prvé stretnutie, predstavenie v blízkej budúcnosti. Mohli by sme povedať, kedy to bude a na čo sa môžeme pri tom tešiť? Aký plán je vlastne s tým predstavením?

 

Vít: Určitě. Tenhle ten event plánujeme 11.5. Bude to dopoledne. Zhruba od 9.00 do 12.00 a spolu organizujeme to společně ještě s RealPadem. A to téma toho eventu bude hlavně pro developery, případně i pro projektové financování v bankách. Bude se to týkat toho, jak se vyvíjel trh primární i sekundární, i nájemní za poslední rok. Půjdeme hodně do detailu. Podíváme se i na data ta nejčerstvější za první kvartál, teďka 2023 hlavně vlastně z pohledu externích market insights dat. A potom RealPad se bude zaměřovat na to, jaké jsou teďka rozdíly mezi slovenským trhem a dalšími trhy, ve kterých operuje. To znamená Česko, to znamená, kde oni všude jsou. Bulharsko, Belgie…

Milan: Jedenásť krajín, dokonca viac ako jedenásť.

Vít: Jo, no přesně tak. Takže to by mělo být hodně zajímavé z hlediska vlastně porovnání dynamiky na tom trhu, teďka když se vlastně všechno tak trošku zastavilo. A budeme se, budeme potom diskutovat i doufujeme i s developery, jak to vlastně vidí a na co se, na co se je určitě potřeba do budoucna připravit.

Milan: Super. Tak budeme sa těšiť. Dúfam, že vám to dobre dopadne.

Vít: Díky moc!

Milan: To je na dnešný deň všetko na túto tému. A držím vám palce. Znie to veľmi zaujímavo, Veľa benefitov, myslím, že z toho môžu získať developeri, banky, investori. Takže super!

Vít: Tak moc díky, moc díky za rozhovor. Bylo to super, moc jsem se to užil. A uvidíme se zase někdy brzo.

Milan: Nápodobne. Ďakujeme veľmi pekne! A Pekný deň!

Vít: Tak jo, vám taky. Na shledanou!

 

Is Sales & Leasing Cold In These Days?

📢 Webinar 💻 /Podcast 🎙 with Marian Škvarek and Realpad.

💡  The “Real Estate Better” is our webinar/podcast series featured by PropTech Slovakia and its partners from Slovakia and abroad.  Each episode is devoted to actual real estate challenges and we share tips, solutions and experiences on how to solve them: this episode was focused on our first challenge as well: 🔦 “SALES & LEASING in 2023”.

Milan Bogár, our founder and host of the webinar/podcast from PropTech Slovakia was discussing this topic with Marian Škvarek, CEO and founder of Realpad. Realpad is the leading provider of Sales and Leasing SW solutions for Real estate developers (especially residential, but also some commercial) that we know from more than 10 countries. We were very happy that Marian accepted our invitation because, thanks to him we could have got information from more than 10 national markets, and become those lucky ones that could knew him and his more profound views better.
Links to our podcast and webinar  from 8 March 2023  on www.youtube.com:

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Couple of our highlighs from the webinar/podcast with Marian:

“I got advice from one of my friends like you as a founder or CEO,  you are the only person in the company who really cannot afford to burn out. Because if you burn out in the company, the whole company burns with you. So I’m doing my best not to do that.”

“… there was no good solutions on the market. You know, you either spend a lot of money and time or you just do things manually, which means errors, which means frustrated people, which means eroding trust of your buyers. So that’s how the idea of Realpad was born somewhere around 2014. And basically, since then, we are just trying to solve more and more problems for our customers and obviously grow the customer base as much as possible.”

“I would say also like Realpad serves as something where you show your talent. Listen, we want you to focus on our buyers. We want you to focus on the business. And we are not the type of company that employs you to spend 20 percent of your time doing the administration and manual reporting.”

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Time stamps/chapters

on youtube  for more direct access to information you wish to get:

00:00 Intro

01:46 How do you relax?

04:42 How the idea of improving sales and leasing process in Real Estate with Realpad was born.

08:03 Where are we the best.

09:51 Where customers welcome our help the most.

13:20 Views from more countries: Dubai, Serbia, Finland, Poland, US, Europe.

15:40 Where the needs of developers and buyers are shifting.

19:08 What developers need to stay successful in a long run.

20:06 Helping both developers and real estate agencies.

21:31 Commercial Real Estate needs help as well.

25:25 Practical examples and experiences with adding value in particular cases.

31:07 Very good experience of Realpad with Corwin.

31:47 Plans for 2023, MIPIM, etc.

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Complete Transcription

(Dear visitor, this is complete transcription of our webinar and podcast made by an AI Whisper. Whisper is very good, but not perfect and we dared to make just a very quick human supervision of its work. Anyway, if you find some gaps, errors, etc. do not let them disturb you. You can freely contact us or any of our podcast participants via LI profiles, should you wish corrections or further explanations)

00:00 Intro
Milan: So, good morning, everyone. This is “Real Estate Better”, or in Slovak, “Nehnuteľnosti lepšie”, you watch and listen to our podcast featured together by PropTech Slovakia and its partners either in Slovakia or abroad from all over the world.
Each episode we devote to actual real estate challenges and we share tips, solutions and experiences on how to solve them.
This episode, we would like to focus on sales and leasing in the residential sector. This week in the residential sector.
Why leasing and sales? Because the economic situation in each country is very difficult.
There are very high inflations, prices of energy are very unstable and sales and leasing, especially of flats and family houses, is slowed down significantly all over the Europe somehow, but not in every country in the same way.
And today it’s a really big honor for me to speak with one founder of Realpad, which is a leading provider of sales and leasing solutions for especially residential developers. They have very interesting international reach. They are present in more than 10 countries at the moment.
It’s Marian Skvarek. Hi, Marian!.
Marian: Hi! Thank you for having me!

01:46 How do you relax?
Milan: Thank you as well! I would like to start with one icebreaker question at the beginning. I know that you are a CEO. You are very busy each day, and I’m interested in how do you relax and how often can you afford this kind of relaxation?
Marian: Well, I definitely do relax. Maybe I haven’t relaxed so much in the first years of the company, but since the team has grown, it’s more about the team and the people we have on the team. And I cannot just compensate for that working 20 hours a day. So actually, I went for skiing with my friends last weekend, so it was fun. And in general, I would say I believe in something called work life integration. So I would say that I actually relax every day and I’m definitely enjoying the flexibility connected with the entrepreneurship. So, you know, like I have kids, so definitely a large part of my spare time is spent with them. At the same time, you know, I try to spend time with my friends.
I like sports and so on. So I definitely I definitely try to find time for that. You know, like I got advice from one of my friends like you as a as a founder or CEO, you are the you are the only person in the company who really cannot afford to burn out. Because if you burn out in the company, the whole company burns with you. So I’m doing my best not to do that.

Milan: This is nice. I was skiing as well this weekend with kids. So where have you been?
Marian: Austria, as always, my favorite one.
Milan: Your favorite one. I was in High Tatras. It was not so bad as in previous years, but kind of, I would say, a awakening business here. It’s more and more, it is every time better and better. And I’m surprised how good services people can offer here, because I was not used to it.
Marian: That’s good, because I was born maybe one hour drive from High Tatras and I haven’t been there for quite some time. So I think it’s time to fix this.
Milan: One hour? Oh, where exactly?
Marian: Yeah, I was born in Eastern Slovakia, you know, in the town of Prešov.
Milan: You are from Prešov. Nice! I thought that you are from Bratislava, but OK, nice to know.
Marian: So my accent is not that terrible anymore.

04:42 How the idea of improving sales and leasing process in Real Estate was born.
Milan: Yeah, I think that we can jump straight to the topic.
I know that RealPad is really good with these solutions. A lot of developers are very happy with your solutions and they are implementing it. And I heard it even from people who are not so tech savvy. Yeah, it’s really simplifying their life and helping them. How did you come with this idea to make it better and to work it?
Marian: Well, I would say, you know, I don’t want this to sound too humble, but it was no genius idea. It was more a combination of hard work and luck. And what I mean by luck was that, you know, in the beginning, I was starting as a technology freelancer. I was basically coding applications for anyone who, actually, needed one. And at one point I was approached by a real estate developer and I started developing this idea of my own. You know, some tablet application that could help them present their portfolio of projects to their buyers. So basically, the idea was to replace paper catalogues with an iPad application, which was quite a new thing back then.
However, I was lucky enough to meet a developer who directed me to the right point. They said, like, listen, this is nice to have. At the same time, we have some problems that are really a big pain for us and it’s not easy to solve them. And that’s how I came across this problem that, basically, sales of newly built real estate is the most complex transaction in our lives very often. You know, like there are super complicated transaction between companies. But you as a consumer, as a buyer, you usually there is nothing you would spend more than a year basically transacting or buying or something where so many people would be involved, you know. And as a result, I found out that any any residential real estate developer who wants to provide better service, digital service and instant and fast and transparent communication, basically they have just two options.
They either do a lot of lot of manual work or they basically customize some solutions that are more like generic ones, you know, for any industry. But they have to spend months, if not years, a lot of money and focus on basically making them work to reflect all the specifics of this long and complex real estate process.
So basically, there was no good solutions on the market. You know, you either spent a lot of money and time or you just do things manually, which means errors, which means frustrated people, which means eroding trust of your buyers. So that’s how the idea of Realpad was born somewhere around 2014. And basically, since then, we are just trying to solve more and more problems for our customers and obviously grow the customer base as much as possible.
Milan: Yeah! Thank you. Thank you. I would pose another question, which is very, very close. You are, in my opinion, making the improving the process still. It is better and better every year and you are still looking for opportunities.

08:03 Where are we the best.
But where would you say that the Realpad is the best, where is your unique selling proposition in this?
Marian: Actually, it’s connected to what I said before. I would say the main idea behind is that at the same time, we help mostly residential real estate developers digitize their customer facing operations and provide better service to their buyers. And they can do that without any heavy customization of the software, without investing a lot of time, focus and money into the process.
And it’s kind of plug and play solution that you can onboard very, very fast and I would say relatively conveniently, you know, like implementation of any software. And especially the mission critical one is never like never comes without some sweat. At the same time, I would say compared to any other alternatives, working with Realpad is the easiest one to go.
So basically, our value proposition is like, listen, you can either spend much more time and money on building something either on your own or on top of existing platforms that are more like generic ones, or you can simply work with us and it’s much more convenient for you.
Milan: Yeah. To make it more specific, I really appreciate your words about this purchasing of a house or flat. It’s one of the biggest desicions we make in our life and it takes us some time. How does your solution help us, normal people or developer, to make this process smoother, just to feel safer in this really important decision-making process?

09:51 Where customers welcome our help the most
Marian: Yeah, sure. So please don’t take my word for this. I will just replicate what I heard from our actual users because end buyers of Real Estate are not our customers. They’re obviously not paying for the solution, but they are interacting with the solution because part of our value proposition is something we call the Buyers Portal, which is a solution which helps Real Estate developer guide their buyers through the whole process of purchasing a new home. And that’s how buyers or people who are buying their new homes interact with Realpad. And actually, last time it was yesterday. I had a meeting with a potential investor and it was quite funny because both guys actually were buyers or customers at the development companies that are using Realpad. So both of them interacted with us and their feedback is usually the same. The whole process is much more transparent, which means they basically keep trust with the developer.
You know, they never have a feeling that the developer would be hiding information from them or that they would be informing them either late or providing them with wrong information, which basically erodes trust. And while this might sound as something super basic, unfortunately, this is not the norm in Real Estate development. But it’s not because the developers wouldn’t like to do this, but the thing is you need to coordinate tens of people.
There is a lot of information, the whole process is very long and specific and complicated and it really happens like super, super easy that you make an error in communication with your customer, that you provide them with the wrong information or you basically provide it too late and customer is getting lost in the process. They have a feeling that you are hiding something from them and so on. And basically it’s very easy turns into very frustrating, I would say, relationship between the buyer and the developer. So that’s how Realpad helps.
You know, you as a buyer, you have your own interface, which feels basically as an online banking. So instead of going to the bank, having calls, having tens of emails that you have all over your inbox, all the information about your transaction, all the documents, all the next steps, all the payments, communication with the developer, everything stays in one place. So basically you can just log into the interface and you are staying on top of the whole process. Because in the end of the day, it shouldn’t feel like this consumes one or one and a half year of your life. You know, like it should feel like a good thing that you are looking forward to move into your new home and the whole transaction and the whole bureaucratic process behind should be just as smooth as possible. And that’s exactly what we are providing to the buyers.
Milan: Excellent! We know that there’s a lot of pessimism on the market at the moment. The energy prices, inflation, every family, every person has deeper pockets and it is quite difficult. And there’s significant slowdown in the sales. But how does it look, if you have the abundance of views from more countries, and you can tell us how does it work in, is it so bad in Slovakia or in Czech Republic? Where is it better? Where is it worse?

13:20 Views from more countries: Dubai, Serbia, Finland, Poland, US, Europe.
Marian: Yeah, so definitely it’s not like surprisingly there are even countries or markets that even benefit from this situation. There are only a handful of them, but it’s quite well known that, for example, Dubai is heavily benefiting from, you know, many Russians are leaving Russia.
So, basically that market, for example, is super healthy. If I could mention one of the markets where we operate, I would say Serbia is doing comparably well. It’s been well known for having 80 percent of the buyers, cash buyers. So they are not influenced by the mortgage rates, basically.
However, I would say that the vast majority of residential markets is going through a cooldown. And the level of this cooldown depends on the country specifics. To give you one more example, you have countries where most people have adjustable rates mortgages, which means when the interest rate goes up, not only people who renew their fixation pay more, but actually, you know, whole market, every buyer with the mortgage is basically paying more.
I think Finland is one of those markets, as far as I know. Also, Poland has most of the mortgages on adjustable rate. And in these markets, you feel definitely much more much more pain. And the demand is almost completely destroyed because, you know, not only people have less money for new investments, but also they are, their wallets are attacked by not only  the inflation, not only by the energy prices, but also they are paying more for their existing homes. So this really depends. But I would say in general, all over the Western world, the U.S. and Europe, definitely, you know, higher higher interest rates equals lower demand equals cooldown of the market.
Milan: Yeah, and Realpad in your solution with this increasing of transparency in this difficult situation, macroeconomic situation, how would you describe? Is it helping some in some way? Is it helping to feel more safe, in the same sales and leasing process?

15:40 Where the needs of developers and buyers are shifting.
Marian: Yeah, so like, let’s be honest, we can’t create buyers out of thin air. So, you know, we cannot, basically, help developers and somehow create a demand that doesn’t exist.
However, what we can help with and where we see also focus of our customers shifting is much more focus on the conversion rates on, you know, whatever is left from the demand.
It is now like super important to treat every potential buyer completely different way than they were treated, let’s say, two years ago. OK, two years ago, you had like you just announced that you have a new project and you were almost sold out in the beginning. People were almost begging basically to get to the price list early and to even have the opportunity to buy something.
Today’s market is completely different. And frankly, not all the players have fully reflected this in their day to day operations. So we are basically helping the developers stay super organized in the pre-sale phase to keep track of each and every potential buyer to empower sales managers, track the whole sales process and make sure that their potential customers, especially in these hard times, you are not losing buyers because of poor service or poor communication. So that’s, I would say, one aspect of the thing.
And on the other hand, we still have tens of thousands of people who even in this, you know, I would say colder times are going through the process already because they made a reservation one year ago. And you also definitely don’t want to, I would say, turn these buyers into toxic buyers who would basically prevent you from either having higher retention and coming back to you maybe in two, three, four years from today when they are buying their next apartment or that they spread negative feedback.
So I would say the other part of the equation is that Realpad helps you serve your existing customers better and which helps your brand, which makes them more likely to refer you to their friends and family and which increases the likelihood that, I don’t know, in five years when they start a family and they are buying a new home, that they are coming back to you because they were super happy with the service. And, you know, also this depends on the culture.
In some cultures, I would say the service is not that important, but in most countries in Europe, you know, this having a feeling that you are served well is very open, is very often almost equally as important as the product itself that is delivered in the end.
Milan: To highlight the difference between developer that does not have RealPad solution that is functioning with traditional approach, I will choose one real estate company that will sell the whole property and I don’t care how they do it. What added value did they get with your solution?
Marian: Ah, so you mean you mean a developer who appoints a real estate agency?
Milan: Yeah.
Marian: That has not been happening too much for recently for two reasons. First of all, or at least in most geographies where we operate, first of all, most developers who are in the market are actually long-term players, especially in the environment in which building permits take years to obtain, you know, you it’s much harder to operate as an opportunistic player, I would say.

19:08 What developers do need to stay successful in a long run.
If you want to be successful in this business, like most of the really successful ones are long term players who basically build their pipeline of projects and, you know, in if you do this long term and if you do this on scale, you would be wasting a lot of money or you can save a lot of money by building your internal team.
Okay, so most developers we actually work with would have their in-house teams. However, we also work with the agencies because in many cases it just makes sense to delegate yourselves to the agency. If you are a one-time or I would say opportunistic or maybe one-time developer who is planning maybe one or two projects but is not in this for the long game, then it definitely makes sense.
But even in such a case, like either agencies or such developers are using Realpad. So I wouldn’t say that whether you work with the agency or in-house team makes a big difference. In the end of the day, you want to serve your customers well.

20:06 Helping both developers and real estate agencies.
Milan: And both you can help both the developer and the agency.
Marian: Yes, yes. I cannot disclose yet, but we are now in the process of in the final stages of negotiations with one of the, you know, big four agencies, the global ones. And while in most countries they focus on commercial real estate, in some countries they also sell new homes and it just makes perfect sense for us to work together. So that really doesn’t change.
But maybe to answer your question, like what is the main difference between the developer who uses Realpad and the one that doesn’t? I would say that in general, the one that doesn’t, first of all, they have like it’s much more difficult for them to keep all their buyers like super happy.
At the same time, I think it’s now also a talent question. I would say that smart people and especially young and modern people, they just don’t feel like working in a company that feels that they build their technology stack in 90s. You know, like people basically are used to using their smartphones, doing everything in an efficient way.
So, I would say also like Realpad serves as something where you show your talent. Listen, we want you to focus on our buyers. We want you to focus on the business. And we are not the type of company that employs you to spend 20 percent of your time doing the administration and manual reporting.

21:31 Commercial Real Estate needs help as well.
Milan: Excellent. This gives me a hint where I wanted to direct this conversation. You mentioned the commercial real estate. We were speaking mostly about residential developers. What do you have for commercial things? So did you prepare some product for them that can be helpful in a similar way? I know that last time, I’m sorry. I know that last time we had a commercial solution and we spoke about this sector, it has its specificities. And it is even less digitized, in my opinion, than the residential sector. The CRM solutions in commercial sector are more rare, in my opinion. Maybe I’m wrong. But what is your opinion? Does it pay off to go into this sector and do people need solutions in this sector as well?
Marian: Yeah, so our story has been as follows. We were working mostly with the residential developers and the whole mission of the company was to make it more enjoyable to buy and sell new build home. And then we were approached by actually two of our customers at the same time with the idea like or with the request. Like guys, you helped us a lot with the, in our residential section, but we have actually very similar problem in our leasing team.
We are using mostly spreadsheets. People waste time filling in manual reports. We are losing data. We have duplicates. It’s a mess, you know. So why don’t you do the same? And we were actually struggling with this opportunity for quite some time because at the same time, it makes the whole mission of the company more complicated, I would say.
But at the same time, the thesis behind is the same. For people who are looking for their new office, this is like very important. It’s the new residence. It’s where their culture basically is facilitated. So they are quite emotional. The whole transaction is also, again, long, complex and specific. So we heard the same from the developers. It’s not so easy for us to deploy any generic CRM or any generic customer service software because this transaction is so specific that we would spend months or years customizing such a software for our use case. So there were some pros and cons. And in the end, we decided to go for it. And the reason is that roughly 25 percent of residential developers have some kind of commercial portfolio.
Either they’re like full-scale commercial developers or in many cases, they just own some older commercial building that they are planning to redevelop into residential maybe 10 years from today. But during those 10 years, you interact with your tenants and you somehow need to operate. So we decided to step into the leasing game. And we now also offer the leasing CRM.
Milan: Excellent. We are, quickly, the time is running very quickly. And before I will pose my last question, I would like to a little bit more describe where is your value in the process. You mentioned the first contact with potential customer. When it is a lead and where you are really helping is to improve the conversion ratio. The communication is really recorded. You know that this is. How does it work?

25:25 Practical examples and experiences with adding value in particular cases
Matian: So let me give you a very particular example. All the examples I will mention are not like super frequent to happen, but whenever they happen, it might be like very big problem.
What was happening before RealPad was that you were using some kind of Excel spreadsheet with your price list, with all your units. And whenever you made the sales, you would have to update this price list, share it with all the people who are affected. So let’s say if you work with external agencies, then you would have to share it with external agents. And you would also have to mark this apartment sold on your website. Whenever you forgot to do that or there was any error, imagine you are getting some lead, someone who is really interested in your project and the first information you give them: Oh, but sorry, you know, the apartment you are inquiring about has been sold already. We just didn’t have time to update the website. It doesn’t really look professional.
The next step is like, okay, let’s say the apartment wasn’t sold and really you are inquiring an apartment that is available, but you have like three salespeople on your team and they somehow coordinate poorly and no one really follows up with the buyer. You know, like anyone who was interacting with real estate, especially, I don’t know, 10 years ago, would tell you it’s definitely not guaranteed that you sent inquiry, that you are interested in some home and you would be really even contacted. You know, like it was very, very frequent that you would have to chase someone and remind them about your very existence.
So, uh, and you know, this is just very early stage of the whole process. I could continue with, uh, with the fact that, uh, you know, you are interested in this apartment, but there is someone else who has been, who has shown their interest two days ago. So how do you coordinate this queue, let’s say, or a duplicate interest, uh, in one apartment? So RealPad helps with that. You know, you are, you get the information, okay, there is someone else interested, but thanks to RealPad I can see that they need to make a decision within three days. Uh, so, you know, it doesn’t happen that you basically tell your buyer, you know. Listen, I don’t even know whether it’s, whether it’s properly available or not. I need to call my colleague, you know?
And then we also help with automated generation of contracts, uh, which, uh, also it might be a minor thing, uh, but I would say it doesn’t put you in the best light if you send the proposal of the contract to your buyer and it contains some errors. So, uh, with our contract automation feature, we help, uh, we help our customers, uh, avoid or minimize errors in, um, in their contracts.
And I could finish with the very last stages of the, of the whole process after maybe this one, one and a half or two years when your home is finally ready and you go for, you go for a handover, uh, before RealPad, most developers would be using, uh, uh, paper, uh, pen and paper method. You would have like paper handover protocol. You would write down all the, all the defects, uh, from, uh, from the handover, uh, on the paper, uh, sign it manually. And then somehow magically people are moving, you know, moving these, uh, to spreadsheets then from spreadsheets to a general contractor while RealPad, uh, streamlines this process, makes it a much more simpler and automated, which leaves much less space for errors.
So it doesn’t happen to you that you move into your new apartment and someone is calling to you after two weeks and saying like: Listen, I know that you reported some defect in your home, but can you actually clarify what is the problem? Because I can see this, you know, two or three words there, but I have no idea, you know, I have no clue like, uh, what, what the actual problem is.
So, uh, actually there are these, all these potential errors that you can make during the whole process, but there are just tens of them. And, uh, as I said, like none of them happens like super frequently. None of them is a, is a killer, but as a whole, uh, if you are making a, or if you have these errors in your customer facing operations, you simply have more frustrated buyers who are less likely to be happy with you.
Uh, who even some of them become really toxic and, uh, it’s not easy to manage your relationship with them. Uh, so it becomes frustrating for your team. These people are less likely to refer you less likely to come back. And, uh, and then basically when you have a new project, you need to invest more in marketing. You need to, you need to attract the buyers and invest much more time into generating demand for your project.
Milan: Yeah. I remember a very nice article from last year, and I think it was written by Corwin, uh, and they were very happy with, uh, exactly the products that were helping them to remove all the defects, when there was a handover and nothing was lost that the customers are, have a tool, uh, for, uh, making it as they wish. Will it be part of the commercial solution as well? Or is it at the moment?
Uh, not yet. Not yet. Uh, we are actually very cautious about, uh, not entering the property management software, uh, industry. Uh, the thing is that, uh, there are so many providers of, uh, you know, that, that specialize in various niches and segments of this market, uh, that, uh, I don’t think that the world needs yet another property management software, or I would say full scale property management software.
So that’s why we stay only in the leasing process. Our work is done once the, uh, once the tenant is moved in and we serve mostly, uh, for, uh, leasing teams, uh, or commercial teams of the developer and financial department slash lawyers, but we don’t aim to be facility management software or, uh, property management software because there are so many of them already.

31:07 Very good experience of Realpad with Corwin
And maybe one thing to mention, you mentioned Corwin and they were actually, uh, they were the first, uh, customers or even the pilot customer who helped us, uh, and we even initiated this idea of the, of the handover process.
And I must say they’re like one of the, definitely one of the most, uh, innovative, uh, companies, uh, at least in Slovakia.
So, uh, there are many, many others with whom we are happy to pilot and, uh, who come up with great ideas. Uh, but, uh, again, I don’t want to be too humble, but I would say, especially this, uh, handover part, uh, it was, uh, even more of a, more Corbin’s idea than, uh, than ours. And it was like a very nice joint cooperation.

31:47 Plans for 2023, MIPIM, etc.
Milan: Nice, I think that was really, really good. Uh, I have one last question. I know that you are going to MIPIM and meet me is always about plans and about new contacts and, and, uh, networking. It’s very nice events in Cannes. And, uh, what are your plans actually for 2023? Uh, what, which market would you like to enter? What new products features would you like to add?
Marian: Uh, you know, like we are now, we are no different from our customers. We were also affected by the currency situation. Uh, we were already, we were already launching two new markets in Western Europe.
But, uh, given the situation on the market, plus, um, uh, the fact that it’s, uh, it’s definitely much more expensive to expand in Western Europe compared to, uh, compared to Eastern Europe, uh, we decided to put those plans on hold.
Uh, however, it, uh, it still seems that a large part of the market, especially the long-term players, uh, just, uh, operate well. So we are reviving these plans and, uh, we, uh, we aim to open to Western European markets this year.
Uh, I’m not sharing which, uh, yet, uh, because it’s still working progress, but, uh, basically, uh, before we have country managers in these countries, uh, me and our head of sales, Roman are mostly responsible for those customers, uh, ourselves.
So my main plan for Cannes is to meet with our existing customers because we already have a bunch of customers in Western Europe and, uh, and also, uh, our customers from Eastern Europe as well. Definitely.
So, um, for me, to be honest, it’s not a, it’s not a party. I, I, I’m quite an efficient person and, uh, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m trying to like, frankly speaking for me, uh, Cannes is, uh, just the replacement of four business trips.
You know, otherwise I would have to travel to Belgium and Luxembourg and, uh, and Denmark. And instead of that, I, I am able to meet all of those people in Cannes. Yeah. Similar, similar as Dubai for, for, for, uh, this, uh, these countries, not, not the, uh, destination for, for holiday, but, uh,
The best thing about Cannes is actually, uh, uh, you know, the, the fact that it’s not Paris and that it’s like small town on the, on the French Riviera and far from, you know, anything, uh, anything else.
Uh, which might be, which might be seen as a, as a bug, but actually it’s a feature. And, uh, the thing is that, uh, really that makes Mipim like super intense, you know, and you, you cannot, you cannot really escape Mipim, you know, like, uh, wherever you go, like the whole Cannes, uh, is just, uh, it just leaves and breathes, um, real estate for a week.
And I think that’s actually, that’s kind of fun. So, um, uh, that’s why, that’s why I like.
Milan: Thank you. Thank you very much. Uh, uh, let me, let me wish you, uh, good luck on Mipim and in your business future. And I wish you a lot of success.
Marian: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Likewise. I really love the way you approach, uh, PropTech Slovakia, you know, like, uh, in, in the Czech Republic, we also try to organize the PropTech community, but, uh, it’s just a more, I would say in internal community of, uh, PropTechs. But, uh, the work you are doing, you know, like bridging the real estate and, and PropTech is a really great. So I wish you all the best with that.
Milan: Thank you. That maybe that would be nice that, that we should, uh, more interconnect our activities and, uh, maybe we should more often visit Prague.
Marian: I definitely agree.
Milan: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much. And, uh, I hope we will see and meet soon.
Marian: Likewise. Have a good day. Thank you for having me.

Leasing & Sales in Energy Crises

📢 We were very much looking forward to hosting this Webinar 💻 /Podcast 🎙.

💡 It is part of larger series called “Real Estate Better” featured by PropTech Slovakia and our partners on new solutions that can serve for solving actual REAL Estate challenges : this one was focused on our February challenge: 🔦 “SALES & LEASING in times of energy crises”.

Milan Bogár, our founder and host of the webinar/podcast from PropTech Slovakia was discussing this topic with Daria Mircea and Catalin Dragutoiu from Bright Spaces, Digital twin 👯‍♀️ /VR solutions of which are applied on some of the greenest office buildings in Romania and quickly spreading to other countries in Europe. Despite their solution was not present in Slovakia yet, the discussion highlighted some specifics of the market situation in Slovakia.

As we are partner of Smart Building Collective | Certification, we were especially interested in this challenge because we used to miss two things on number of smart buildings that we worked with: 1. supporting sales/leasing technology and respective data even if there were tons of other data and technologies (maybe a reason why they were not able to deliver their whole embedded value so well) and 2. digital twins (even if we were speaking about a bit different versions of digital twins here than those used for detailed design and building operation).

Links to our podcast and webinar  from 16 February 2023  on www.youtube.com:

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Couple of our highlighs from the webinar/podcast:

“Practically, it’s why I am trying to help support and grow the whole ecosystem of developers, brokers, the tenants themselves to try and streamline everything and save as much resources as we can within the whole process because this is also the point of aligning to ESG policies and practices.” – Daria Mircea

” Never, in the history of economics, a situation such as today was encountered. It had singular crisis events that we overcome, but today we live in a multi-crisis situation. ….   So, how do we do our business today if we are a developer? We are facing all these challenges. What the answer is? Technology.  The traditional way of leasing an office needs to be boosted with technology because technology is actually a result of two major needs in the market. One is the need for optimization. … and, also answering more emerging needs in the market. ”  – Catalin Dragutoiu

“In traditional way of leasing offices today you go, you see the office, you see the building. Then you go, you see another, you see another, you see another, and then, three weeks pass and then you want to go again to an office building that you like and discuss again. And again, you increase the time. While, being digital means, that after you also have the in-person meeting with the potential tenant, you can send them the link to the space to review at any time that they desire in order to remind them what they have seen.”- Catalin Dragutoiu

“The workplace is a dynamic place we’re not gonna see because of the pandemic and, seeing workplace as a destination. And, that’s something that needs to adapt together with us. It’s become a live place, so you can do different alterations to it to make it more adaptable to your needs and seeing these alterations as a proposal before you actually invest the money to execute them in reality can be again very helpful.” – Daria Mircea

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Time stamps of chapter

on youtube  for more direct access to information you wish to get:

02:49 Daria’s background

04:49 Catalin’s background

09:36 The toughest macroeconomic situation ever…

11:49 How to face all these challenges

14:49 We are past big transfer files

16:13 Unique Selling Proposition.

19:16 There are so many factors to consider…

22:01 The tour through planned building highlighting all relevant benefits

25:13 Showcasing standard fitout or custom

28:33 CRM functions or CRM integration

34:25 Ideal customer

38:40 Pricing and time needed to be considered for  implementation

41:12 Why continual usage makes even more sense

43:10 More continual benefits

47:35 Plans for 2023

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Complete Transcription

(Dear visitor, this is complete transcription of our podcast (and a webinar) made by an AI Whisper. Whisper is very good, but not perfect and we dared to make just a very quick human supervision of its work. Anyway, if you find some gaps, errors, etc. do not let them disturb you. You can freely contact us or any of our podcast participants via LI profiles, should you wish corrections or further explanations)

Milan: Hi, I’m Milan Bogar and this is Real Estate Better, our webinar and podcast featured by Proptech Slovakia and its partners in Slovakia and abroad.

Each webinar we select a couple of hot real estate topics and challenges and we share tips, solutions and experiences on how to solve them.

We focus on Slovak real estate but because the best solutions are more often flowing from and out of more countries, our guests will not be just from Slovakia, especially if we completely miss some kind of solutions that we found abroad.

For February, with our partners, we have selected two challenges that are seemingly unrelated

– Sales and Leasing and Energy crisis.

Why Energy crisis?

It is a very hot challenge at the moment. The energy crisis caused a 30 to 50% increase in service charges at the moment and almost all real estate companies are talking about ESG strategies and measures to fight it.

Why Sales and Leasing?

Because it is missing in these ESG strategies and measures, and we believe it should be a strong integral part. We believe that it is able to boost and speed up solutions for all the three ESG letters.

What we have noticed is that especially in commercial real estate, leasing is still based mainly on old, often ineffective and time-consuming ways that require a lot of repeated visits by more team members of potential tenants as well as leasing team, a lot of traveling with a carbon footprint that is not insignificant.

Therefore, today we will speak about a new sales and leasing approach that could be boldly integrated into a better and more effective ESG strategy, either for one building or for a whole portfolio.

I have met them thanks to one international event last year that we had with colleagues from Spain, Germany and Bulgaria.

Their company is called Bright Spaces. They are originally from Romania, where you can see their digital twins on the web pages of some of the greenest office buildings in Bucharest. But they are quickly expanding to other countries like UK, Hungary, Sweden and even if they are not present here yet, maybe also to Slovakia.

I am very happy that we have male and also female representative because mostly I meet with men in discussions about technologies and before we will jump on where is your most added value, I would be very pleased if you could please tell us more about your background, what is it, what you do and what is the weather in Bucharest.

02:49 Daria’s background

Daria: Thank you Milan, my name is Daria Mircea. I am an architect, I am very happy to be here as let’s say representing women in tech in the PropTech Slovakia webinar.

My experience has been also in real estate for the past six years working as a workplace architect and advising on workplace strategies and for the past year I have brought my experience to the team of Bright Spaces, because we are on a mission to drive next level marketing and leasing strategies for office buildings, but also other types of real estate like residential, commercial and logistics and trying to recreate the world that we are used to in the physical space, the world of offices, interiors and exteriors in a virtual manner.

Milan: I noticed that you worked for CBRE if I am correct?

Daria: Yes I did, I actually started my career with CBRE going from local occupancy planner to regional occupancy planner for EMEA then to workplace architect and advisory and transaction team in Romania.

Milan: Very good! Because companies like CBRE are very well versed in this leasing and selling process and you must be well aware of how does it work in practice.

Daria: Yes! Practically this is why I am trying to help support and grow the whole ecosystem of developers, brokers, the tenants themselves to try and streamline everything and save as much resources as we can within the whole process because this is also the point of aligning to ESG policies and practices.

Milan: Thank you.

04:49 Catalin’s background

Catalin: Hello, I am Catalin, Head of Sales at Brice Bases. My total general experience is in sales for the past 17 years I have been doing sales for various sectors such as finance, advertising, fast moving consumer goods and now real estate and tech, which is probably the most dynamic industry that I have been to. Because it is a merge between two major verticals of the economical context when you look at technology you have technology providers and then you have the real estate. So here in this PropTech, as it is still called today, the ecosystem that we are is a merge of basically a bridge between technology and real estate helping real estate become more streamlined as Daria said.

During my experience, during my past recent experience I have been handling sales of over 10 million euros per year. So, I am quite accustomed to international sales and big accounts management.

Milan: Thank you and how is the weather in Bucharest?

Catalin: Sunny.

Milan: Sunny here as well. Bratislava is sunny as well at the moment.

Catalin: We are waiting for the spring.

Milan: I believe we can jump to the point. I was very interested in this topic, because, you know, I am a smart building certification assessor and we certified quite interesting buildings all around Europe. And, what we have noticed, is that there are quite lack of solutions that would support these smart solutions and things even like ESG strategies and that’s why when I have seen you if I remember correctly I met you first time in November during our webinar or after our webinar that we have with colleagues from Spain, Germany and Bulgaria and I was really pleased that there is solution that focuses on digital twin and on sales what we were missing in thess smart buildings. But you explained to me that it’s a bit different digital twin than the usual understanding of what this digital twin means and it’s not like the BIM digital twin used for design phase or during the construction or the operation with many details. This is focused on showcasing and that is the reason why I was interested in the first place.

Second place is the fact that real estate is in quite complicated situation. Here in Slovakia the vacancy rates are still very high compared to the year 2018 when vacancy rate in commercial real estate was about 5%. At the moment, we are at level of 11 and we are still expecting that it will increase because there are some major developments that will be delivered this year and the competition will be even stronger. So, solutions that will ensure competitiveness towards others will be very welcome and I think that have big future. So, the second reason is that it can help in this difficult situation.

09:36 the toughest macroeconomic situation ever

Catalin: So, to jump on this second topic which is the toughest one as we know as we live a unique macro economical context. We are in a post-pandemic economic crisis. We are in an inflationary crisis caused by the surge in electricity cost, in gas cost, in the continuing here, we also have the debt, higher interest rates meaning that this has a direct impact in the rents that the developers are asking per square meters. And, also we have the carbon neutrality alignment that needs new types of materials, better ways of construction with again a higher impact in the cost. So, this is why it is hard. This is why we have vacancy rates. Because even tenants are more cautious today when renting a space. Hybrid work being a norm everywhere in the world, so, instead of looking at big chunks of buildings rented out they look at the minimum surface that we that they would need for the team that is usually coming in office. So, that’s why we still have vacancy. Also, the cost is an issue because everything that we live in creates a bigger rent cost. So, tenants being more cautious means that they will live in a smaller space.

11:49 How to face all these challenges?

So, how do we do our business today if we are a developer? We are facing all these challenges. What the answer is? Technology.  The traditional way of leasing an office needs to be boosted with technology because technology is actually a result of two major needs in the market. One is the need for optimization. Basically, reducing your internal costs, therefore having the opportunity of asking a smaller rent as a base and, also answering some emerging needs in the market. For example, if we want to change an office, we are the tenant. And we have 60% of the people working remote but we want to increase the people that come to the office to 80%. So, basically convincing more than half of the people that work remote, we need to have them engaged in the leasing process. And many people don’t have real estate experience. They don’t understand the 2D floor plan. So, when you use a digital twin for commercial purposes, yeah, you can show them: This is the building. This is how it’s going to look: the office, this is the working area, this is the leisure area, this is the recreational area. So, everything that makes you boost your productivity or makes you feel at home rather than at office in a 2D standard presentation, can be comprehended by the non-real estate person. That’s why the digital twin for commercial purposes is actually helping tenants, across the board to make a decision and even more Bing or a web-based digital twin means that it is accessible from any type of device. You can see it on your phone, on your laptop or on your tablet. So, imagine that you are a tenant that has the headquarters in Germany and wants to relocate their regional offices in a new office building instead of sending only a big pdf with 20 pages for the headquarters or the management to approve they send also the digital twin and this is how the office will look like. This is how it’s going to be furnished, these are the financials, these are … everything would be comprised in one single space we call the single point.

Milan: And how do you do it? Via link to the digital twin or you’re sending a big file via File Transfer? How can they access the digital twin?

14:49 we are past big transfer files

Daria: That’s the good part, Milan. Actually, because we are past big transfer files, past downloading all of that stuff, where you don’t know where you’ve put it. You don’t know if you’ve attached it. If you remember, there are so many emails you send and you forget the attachment. Everything is web-based. The presentation that we do, which contains both the digital twin and the brochure. And again, this is easily accessible on a web link from a tablet, from a phone, from a computer, wherever you are in the world as long as you have internet. And the good thing about it, for those who are using this, to present it so, let’s say the developers or even the brokers, is that this has analytics. So, you can have the useful information from sending this and seeing how it’s been reacted to and using this to actually adapt and improve your plan whether it is to involve more resources in a certain point or to see where it’s gone really, really well.

Milan: Thank you! So, your unique proposition, unique selling proposition as we call it during the startup pitches, but it’s nothing else than where is the most value that you add, is in this digital twin solution, yeah?

16:13 Unique Selling Proposition

Catalin: Yes! Yes, it’s the digital twin connected to data.  It’s not only the digital twin because renderings have been here for quite a while. What makes us unique is that we connect it to data. You can see the real vacancy in the building. You can filter by surface by number of people in basically finding your ideal space. The unique selling proposition is, actually, the optimization. Because think as, let’s say, in the in the process. Usually, tenants discuss with the consultant that makes a short list. And, then you go and visit the premises. Well, having the digital twins implemented means that within 30 minutes you can sort and see each office space across Bratislava that in a rainy day might be a whole day of, you know, traveling. But you do this in 30 minutes and you are able to create those special offices, the list of offices that really suit your need. And you feel like they are the ones that you should engage with. You also see the tech specs, you also see the sustainability specs, you also see the location. You understand everything about the building. So, when you engage with the actual landlord or developer, the tenant assisted by the consultant, where independently, comes more prepared to the meeting. So, yes, the presentation of the building, the presentation of the space will still take place during that in-person meeting, but it will be a smaller in time than usual and getting to the financial details, getting to the offering, understanding what would be the fitout contribution, creating the premises of negotiation a lot faster. In traditional way of leasing offices today you go, you see the office, you see the building. Then you go, you see another, you see another, you see another, and then, three weeks pass and then you want to go again to an office building that you like and discuss again. And again, you increase the time. While being digital means that after you also have the in-person meeting with the potential tenant you can send them the link to the space to review at any time that they desire in order to remind them what they have seen.

Milan: Can you show us maybe? Even if, you don’t want to present the whole time. Just a short presentation.

Daria: Sure, sure.

19:16 There are so many factors to consider…

Daria: Milan, before Catalin shows us a little bit, I actually had a flashback to one of our previous discussions, but also to something you said at the beginning here with the context in Slovakia. So, there are deliveries of new buildings. But there is still vacancy, and we know and this is a trend I think across more countries. At least from what we’ve seen. That, of course, the demand is for high quality buildings, for high quality spaces. Particularly for recent developments with sustainability as a focus. But also, of course, considering the design the way the building and the space makes you feel. And precisely because there are so many factors to consider: the tech specs, as Catalin said,  and the location, the way from home to the office, the customer journey. Because the customer is looking online now for office spaces as well as for everything. Even for homes we look for our next apartment online. We see what’s there for clothes, and so on. The customer journey needs to be curated just like for any other thing that we are interested in purchasing and every type of information needs to be thoughtfully and easily accessible in that curated place which for example can be the digital twin. And, this is not only a way of showcasing new buildings or future developments, because they’re not built yet and you cannot tour them anyway physically. But let’s think about the next wave of buildings which are class B or which are a little bit older. And, necessarily, if you showcase these with photos or even the physical tour right now, people won’t be able to see what they will look like after a refurbishment. So, with a virtual tour and the digital twin you can showcase and focus on their energy efficiency after the refurbishment. And they can become as tempting an office space as the new deliveries.

Milan: Yeah! So, refurbishment projects are another thing that can be targeted by your solution?

Catalin: Yes, of course. Of course. Obviously in a refurbishment project if it’s ongoing. If it’s actually a construction site, you cannot visit it. It’s dangerous for you. So, that’s why virtual tours are the safest way. I’m going to share my screen just to show you a bit how the digital twin looks like and what more arguments can be when you are presenting the building virtually.

22:01 The tour through planned building highlighting all relevant benefits

Let me know you see the screen. This building itself doesn’t yet exist. It is of plan. It is going to be delivered in 2024. So, in order to create this, we only requested the floor plans, facade plans and want to renderings of the project in order to understand the textures. What we have done more we have placed here some key differentiators. And this can be rich content renderings, can be videos, sounds, images, or texts. But what’s important is that this text can be also, for example, breath of fresh air. The environmental protection agency has issued a study where the cleaner indoor air increases productivity of the team with 11 %. So, this can be used as a pitch when you are presenting your property and why your property is better than the other ones or why a tenant should pay two euros more per square meter in your office building rather than two euros less in a class B office building. Because they will be 11 % more productive. That’s why! You’re not only advertising your building, you are basically addressing the need of the tenant and the need to become more profitable also for the tenant. So, your office, your office building or office space can do that. This is a presentation web page that starts with the digital twin that can be filtered by floor, by surface, or you can see also here the number of people based on the tenant split. But continuing you also have complete building specs, sustainability features, quality of the materials used inside, place making with points of interest, an aerial shot showcasing how you enter, and exit the parking lot. As you can see this is the site. Right now, nothing is there. So, for this digital twin we only needed, as I said, the plans.

When you are basically seeing the split, you also see the position on the floor plate, but if both spaces, or all four spaces, or six spaces, it doesn’t matter how the tenants fit looks like ,you can merge them together if you want accommodating a bigger team and entering a virtual tour.

Here in the virtual tour you have the full floor with again key differentiators carefully mapped in place. For example, the Harvard business review reports says that natural light increases productivity with 2 %. So, that’s another 2 % added to the productivity of the potential tenant by moving in here and paying a bigger rent. You can start virtually walking through the space base build. So, basically this is a walk into the future because this floor is not yet there.

25:13 Showcasing standard fitout or custom

But furthermore, you can even place a fitout. This fitout is immediately generated as you can see. it is the best scenario of how to use this space. So, it is a standard fitout. We can also do a custom one if the tenant requires this, in order to sign the pre-release agreement. So, you can have also the exact demand.

Everything that you see here, walking around, interacting with the space, turning on and off the fit out, is available on any type of device as we previously mentioned. Right now, what you have, basically, done in the mind of the tenant? You have qualified him. So, he saw the building. He saw the location. He saw the impressive technical specification. He saw the space. He sees how it might be furnished. So, assisted by a broker or by himself, he can request an offer. And this request for offer can be connected to an existing CRM account or we can provide the CRM solution for the developer in order to manage the leads.

Milan: Catalin, this far up to the last point it is not only the leasing and sales journey. It’s also a journey for the customer, yeah? Who is in the deciding mode and so he can access it via the same web page?

Catalin: Yeah!

Milan:  And so, he can go back to it after a certain period of time and decide later, yeah?

Catalin: Yes, exactly. Exactly! What we have done, right now, showcasing the twin and the tour. It can be done by a broker assisting a tenant. Showcasing a space that accommodates a team of 135 people, for example, or can be done directly by the tenant. Because this digital twin will be implemented in the website of the developer or the landlord itself. It can be a complete presentation page as we have showcased or we can integrate only the digital twin with the filtering and the virtual tour. So, we don’t want to duplicate already existing information.

Milan: Yeah! And, in the last point you came to the to the dashboard that is especially devoted, I think, to the leasing staff?

Catalin: Yes!

Milan: What is not visible for the for the customer, but you are starting to speak about another point that we realize is very often missing in commercial real estate and this is CRM. There is very little landlords that own some kind of CRM solution. Is this something that is part of your solution or you can connect to the existing CRM if there is any.

28:33 Dashboard with CRM functions or CRM integration

Catalin: If the existing CRM is a cloud-based CRM such as Salesforce, HubSpot, the PipeDrive, MS Dynamics, we can link via API the digital twin to their CRM. So, there is no problem of connecting the two. If a certain solution, a CRM solution, such as the ones that I’ve mentioned earlier, is not available, we have the internal dashboard – the management dashboard as I said. We have our digital twin is for commercial purposes. It’s a digital twin connected to data. That data needs to be located somewhere, stored somewhere, and managed from somewhere. Obviously, this is what I’m going to share also this information is internal part. This is under the eyes and hands of the leasing team, of the internal leasing team of the developer. So, no public viewing. It is a restricted access with username and password. So, you cannot go and you cannot access it immediately. I’m just going to share it immediately. Let me just find where it is, okey? Here it is, okay!

So, this is the dashboard. Let me just have a bit of refresh here. This is a demo version. So, as you can see, you cannot enter without having some credentials. When you enter you, see exactly on each property that you have digitally mapped all the information regarding office, parking, … But this is dummy data, how many deals do you have right now opened in their stages. You can manage the availability. So basically, when I was filtering in the digital twin searching for an office space the result of the that query comes from here, from this stacking plan – availability. This availability can be sent directly to brokers, for the brokers that you work with or to specific email addresses. Same goes for parking and also storage.

Deals area, which is the sales funnel, here you receive after completing the form in the front-end in the digital twin you’ll receive here the new deal. And you will have exactly the information, which zone, what surface, what project, what floor, everything. Who is the one that has requested the offer. And from here just click – create offer – and you create an offer for that office space and it will move here or you can drag and drop it and start creating the offer. After you negotiate and you agree to the financial terms, you can even go to head of terms where we will digitally map the standard template of head of terms that each developer has, and they will be able obviously to select their specific head of terms.

Reporting area – this is something that is really customizable. In order to generate the fast bird’s eye view or even detailed reporting here, you administer the brokers you add broker companies and then adding individual agents for brokers. If you already have a database when implementing we will only request an excel with the brokers and the broker agents and everything will be a turnkey solution. You don’t have to manually do anything. Same goes for a tenant. Let’s say we start a project today and you have 25 % of the building for the lease. There are some tenants again. We will ask for the tenants for the tenant excel and we will pre-upload and assign for each space that will also be here clearly mentioned. Again, you have also some statistics regarding how much available space you still have, how much available space you still have, or do you still have, when contracts will expire, so on and so forth. So, this is this is basically where the leasing team works day to day. It’s again one single place today they keep in availability. Some of them keep it in a legacy software such as SAP. Others keep it in excel, the deals similar. If they don’t have a CRM like SalesForce they keep it again something similar in excel and all the information about reports on how many offers have you sent or what are the stages are hard to pile up together when discussing with the board about the evaluation of the progress in leasing.

Milan: Catalin, if we want to identify your ideal customer is it the landlord or it can be also leasing company with much broader portfolio?

34:25 Ideal customer

Catalin: The ideal customer profile, obviously, it’s the developer and slash landlord. The one that holds the building for long term. Because obviously they are the ones that need to lease as much as possible, as fast as possible. But this is not a closed environment. So, consulting agencies that have exclusivity on properties can subscribe to the service of using the digital twin and promote the building in this manner. Also, for the consulting agencies we have a specific product that is a custom 3D space planning service, which is basically the last step before signing the pre-lease agreement. The custom space planning is the actual proof of concept that the team will fit there and what you see in the virtual tour, is 80 % the concept design that will be implemented.

Milan: So,  if I am a landlord or a developer – your ideal customer, yeah, what options do I have? If I love digital twin but I have my CRM solution I can buy just this one and for only selected buildings?

Catalin: Yes, yes! We can do one pilot project so you can convince yourself that you are decreasing your lease cycle, you are generating more leads, because also the trend in the market is that more and more millennials are becoming decision makers, which are hyper connected to the internet where they want to experience everything with Internet. In connecting this digital twin to your CRM, the CRM – the management part that you see we created because we identified the fact that some of the developers don’t have anything and they want something like this. Or in in if the case if you don’t have anything but you do love only the digital twin, the digital twin will make zero sense without having the availability at least behind it. Because the result of the query is directly linked to the to the availability. So, when you are searching for an office if you don’t have a database to search in, then digital twin will return nothing. And, we can discuss about also having portfolio implementation, several buildings at once, and you can even have another cool value proposition for your tenants.

So, let’s say they are searching for a 100 to 1200 square meters office and you have that exact surface in three buildings across Bratislava, okay? The rent is the same.  The, let’s say the specific of the buildings are the same. The same quality, everything is the same, yeah? So, which one is better for the tenant?  How do you help him decide, which is better for him? Well, you can ask for the list of employees without names only the addresses and you can upload it into the software. The list of addresses and the query itself will return which office building is better placed for their employees to travel, to have a combined less time while traveling to work, thus having also a lower carbon footprint while commuting to work. So, you don’t only take care about the fact that you, as a landlord, you have to take care of the environment. The “E” from ESG. You also help the tenant make the same sustainable decision towards the environment.

Milan: Yeah! Okay, let’s say that you convinced me. What costs and how much time should I take into account, when implementing your solution and further use?

38:40 Price and time needed for implementation

Catalin: Well, the cost itself, it’s s SAS fee – Software-As-a Service subscription that is directly linked to the surface and the vacant area. So, it’s going to be a price scale, if we take into account the office building of 30 000 square meters that is completely vacant, the cost per year will be roughly 28 000 euros per year.

Milan: And the time of implementation?

Catalin:  1,5 months to 2 months.

Milan: I understand that it depends on how many fitouts do I want to show to potential customer.

Catalin: This is the standard implementation when we deliver the complete digital twin with the splits. Three, four, five, with one fitout in each combination and in each split as well as in the full floor.

And then if you wanted more fitouts. If you want three fitouts,  obviously, time will increase because we have to generate the fitouts itself. We have to render them and we have to make them web ready.  But for the first stage we deliver the digital twin with one fitout in maximum of 2 months based also on the feedback discussions. We create the digital twin for you, but it is your image, yeah? So, we need to have your approval before actually going live delivering the project to you and placing it on your website in order to start commercializing the proper.

Milan: Okay. And maybe one unpleasant: I will use your solution. I will lease the building. I will have vacancy close to zero, yes? So, the building will be full. Why is it good to have your solution further and pay each year? For more flexibility or what is the benefit?

41:12 Why continual usage makes sense?

Catalin:  Okey, as i mentioned, we’re a SAS. We are constantly developing new features that obviously being a SAS you will find one day a new feature coming into your platform, into your implemented platform. One could be the divestment model. So, your business model itself as you build, you lease, and then you want to sell the building. In order to sell the building, you create a divestment memorandum. You create a VDR in order to upload the, let’s say, the documents that are subjected to the to the selling of the building. So, instead of having a divestment memorandum that is 65 – 70 pages of a pdf you have again the digital twin that is now used for divestment purposes. So, you can instead of sending that huge pdf via WeTransfer to somebody, you send the digital twin to an investor in USA.

Milan: Yeah!

Catalin: So that’s why you should keep subscribing to the service itself. Obviously, if you have, if we reach the end of the SAS contract and your building is completely leased, we have a legacy model that keeps your building as a portfolio building with limited functionalities. You will not have any more the virtual tours. You’ll have some relevant information that says this building was and it has brought me these results and it can be up for sale right now.

Milan:  Yeah! Thank you! Thank you! Looking at Daria and the choice of fitouts that is available what’s your experience? Do the customers require special fitouts or is the communication with customers complicated regarding this?

43:10 More continual benefits.

Daria: This is actually, yeah, one of the reasons why I moved into this PropTech business. Because if we look at, how Catalin was presenting, imagining a building work or touring a building in reality as a shared course, it’s harder to see what it could look like furnished. So, having that one standard fitout that we agree with our client that is the best showcasing of how their interior space could be looking at as an office, is really helping people, which are different stakeholders in a tenant decision, which are maybe from HR, from finance and, so on, which are not architects themselves. So, it’s easy a little bit more difficult for them to understand and to imagine what it would look like. As you’ve seen it’s so easy to just walk through the space and see a desk here and the office there and the meeting room. And that’s the standard option. But, as Catalin said, we have the option of doing real test fits for and space planning in 3D for the later part of the process when they want to see how their exact requirements would look. And there it’s easy for us if our client has an architect that is working with. We get the 2D from them or we can even help with that. And, we create that digital tour, which can have a certain look, if we want to align to something that the tenant would like to see: like industrial,  or different styles, like modern, and so on. And, if you’ve seen the fitout from the project, that Catalin was sharing, that was actually called a green hybrid fitout, because it was focusing on sustainability. And, it had also information about the types of materials that the landlord would use to deliver that space like a carbon neutral carpet, like chairs, and different other items of furniture made from recycled materials, like very energy efficient, led or HVAC systems. So, all this information that is linked to the sustainability can also be mapped and seen in the fitout as well as on the building, which is very useful.

Milan: Yeah! Thank you! This is maybe another reason why to have your solution on a continual basis and to use it for either relocation, for modernization, for solving day-to-day business, yeah? That I have more employees in this room this month and next month I will start a new project, so, I will need to change either fitout or move the walls.

Daria: That’s right though. The workplace is a dynamic place we’re not gonna see because of the pandemic. And, seeing workplace as a destination and that’s something that needs to adapt together with us. It’s become a live place, so you can do different alterations to it to make it more adaptable to your needs and seeing these alterations as a proposal before you actually invest the money to execute them in reality can be again very helpful.

Milan: Yeah! Thank you! During our previous discussions I asked what are your plans for 2023 and I would like to see where are you at the moment. Because when I told you that that we are contemplating cooperation you said that your calendar is at the moment very tight because you have new projects and it needs to be taken into account that it may take some time. What do you plan for 2023? Is there any new team ideas or what are the projects that you would like to cater for the next year?

47:35 What are the plans for 2023

Catalin: Well, our strategy in 2023 is to further develop the presence of our office software because we also have it in residential, retail and logistics but the most mature one is the office. We ended 2022 with three countries being present: Romania, Hungary and the United Kingdom. We will end the first quarter of 2023 with an addition of three more countries. I cannot disclose them until it’s going to be out in the open. Our focus is primarily European, but in the same time we look at the emerging real estate markets that can benefit our solution. That’s why one of the recent news is that we have added a very knowledgeable real estate person to be our regional manager and handling our regional manager and handling the operation in the middle east and north Africa. That’s why even next week, Daria Bogdan – our CEO and myself, we will be in Dubai and Abu Dhabi meeting developers in in the UAE and having probably in the nearby future also some projects or portfolio implementation based on the appetite on digitalization.

Milan: It’s quite fresh news, am I right? I noticed a post on the LinkedIn last week.

Catalin: Yes. Mike is former country head Poland and Romania for MindSpace which is one of the biggest co-working spaces provider in Europe and he has a lot of real estate experience that we are hoping to learn even more from him and while also providing the tech – the technology that we have gathered until now.

Milan: Okay! Thank you very much! I think that that was exhausting. Not that I would be exhausted but I think that the theme is good covered. I don’t see any questions that we did not answer that we discussed. So, let me thank you for your availability and will to be part of this event. And, I hope that we will meet your solutions also in Slovakia. I forgot to mention that that was the thing that we are missing solutions not only in the smart building space but also in a country, that we live in. I cannot find a similar solution here at the moment so it would be very nice to have some adopters.

Catalin: We look forward for the engagement.

Daria: Thank you, Milan.  And uh even if we did not have any questions, we are always reachable and happy to talk to anyone who has questions.  Daria and Catalin at Bright Spaces, you can find us on LinkedIn and just happy to connect and chat to anyone.

Milan: Okay! Thank you very much!

Daria: Thank you, Milan, for having us!

Catalin: Thank you! Bye!

Set out on a journey to discover the answers to your questions in SEE PropTech (This article was published on the webpage of PropTech Bulgaria)
Author: Milan Bogar, Founder PropTech Slovakia

1. What is the highest potential in PropTech in your country?

– The most numerous group of PropTech players provide services in two real estate lifecycle stages: 1. Manage & Operate including large group of smart city players represented for example by Sensoneo, the winner of the first Europe PropTech Start-Up Award, and 2. Live & Work. This group counts over 60 out of more than 100 solutions present in our country. But we have a couple of interesting players providing their innovative services in other real estate lifecycle stages too. For instance, geospatial player There digital with their City Performer increasing transparency in residential real estate transactions by robust evaluation of geotechnology available in 10 European metropolises.

2. What are the greatest challenges facing PropTechs and Property Developers in your country?

– In general, the biggest PropTech challenge is lack of new Investment & Financing platforms that are focused on development of real estate and lack of specialised accelerators or incubators focused on PropTech. PropTech is still a relatively unknown term in Slovakia and it is our mission to change it.

– From the perspective of real estate segments, in each segment it is a bit different. Slovakia is located in the centre of Europe, and this very good strategic position led to its strong commercial segment of logistic centres and storage houses. At the end of first half 2020 Slovakia had 2,64 million square metres of industrial and logistic spaces and another 0,25 million square metres in construction. However, from a long-term perspective, the demand here has been driven mainly by automotive industry, which is now in deep recession due to the pandemic situation. On the other hand, increase in other distribution and e-commerce demand brought a bit balance here, because the biggest transactions were conducted by the largest distribution and e-commerce channels in Europe including global player AMAZON. In PropTech, we see increased demand for automation of inventory and supply systems and for applications increasing safety and security of employees with distance and movement tracking functions in these centres.

– We see the same increase in PropTech demand we see in office segment. There is about 1,9 million square metres office spaces in Bratislava and another 100.000 m2 under construction. But the pandemics has significantly slowed down the construction activity and some of the biggest developers of office spaces announced postponement of finishing some of their largest projects in the centre of Bratislava. However, according to the latest surveys, an increased demand is expected for smart and green office buildings in this segment.

– In residential segment, the pandemics has not led to any dramatic decrease of demand or prices. There is around one million flats and about the same number of family houses, but Slovakia still lacks around 200.000 flats with the capital Bratislava alone 40.000. Rental living is almost nonexistent in Slovakia, but the new government wants to support this kind of living in a larger scale. Vast majority of all living units are in private ownership of its inhabitants. From PropTech perspective we expect larger demand for green and smart building features and this will not be limited only to new buildings. For example, from 25 October 2020, the European directive 2018/2002 on energy efficiency requires to newly install only such metering equipment for heating, cooling and domestic hot water that is readable remotely and this rule should be valid in all multifamily buildings including the older ones. From 2022 all energy consumers must get very detailed set of regular information about their energy consumption, which is without smart metering functions in their homes and houses.

– Retail segment was hit the most by the pandemics but a handful of PopTech solutions was offered to them either focused on automated touch-free identification, disinfection units, traffic management with automated counting of maximum number of entering customers according to the new anti-COVID regulations or automated controls of wearing masks.

3. What’s your message to PropTechs as a co-organizer of the 1st international PropTech Conference in the SEE?

– I would warmly invite all PropTech companies to the 1st international PropTech Conference in the SEE that can contribute to improvement of construction and real estate sector in SEE and want to scale up with their solutions to other countries. International co-operation, exchange of knowledge and building relationships is basic condition for improving either our built environment or coping with global climate challenges that are ahead of us in the best possible way.

– We are looking forward to line-up of great speakers that will be present on this amazing event. Big thank to PropTech Bulgaria for organising the whole event and giving us chance to contribute with our co-organisation.

– Although real estate is very local phenomenon, thanks to international business co-operation, new technologies can bring in many improving features that are not limited by country borders.

4. What Property Developers expect from the Conference?

– Property developers can expect amazing event broadening their knowledge, relationships with suppliers of new technologies that can immensely improve their buildings, innovation workshops with some of the best experts in the world with many experiences from other countries. There is very impressive line-up of other well-known speakers that all developers should be looking forward to watching.

This article was firstly published on the webpage of PropTech Bulgaria.

  • Which is the highest potential in PropTech in your country?

Sylvia Pavlova, PropTech Bulgaria:

75 % of Bulgarian PropTechs provide solutions for 2 out of the 5 PropTech lifecycle stages, namely, (1) Market & Transact and (2) Manage & Operate. However, there is a rising number of ConTech solutions and Smart Building solutions, e.g. Alterco that is a world leader in its segment.

Jakub Licak, Czech & Slovak PropTech Association:

Property developers: Slow and unclear permitting processes and increasing costs of construction works. Also, the legislation puts tenants in favour rendering BTR less safe to execute.
PropTechs: This depends on the segment. I’d say CEE startups still need to overcome the cultural gap and Eastern European prisma to succeed in Western Europe and the US.

Milan Bogar, PropTech Slovakia:

The most numerous group of PropTech players provide services in two real estate lifecycle stages: 1. Manage & Operate including large group of smart city players represented for example by Sensoneo, the winner of the first Europe PropTech Start-Up Award, and 2. Live & Work. This group counts over 60 out of more than 100 solutions present in our country. But we have a couple of interesting players providing their innovative services in other real estate lifecycle stages too.

  1. Which are the greatest challenges before PropTechs and Property Developers in your country?

Sylvia Pavlova, PropTech Bulgaria:

Before Covid-19 times I would have said ‘lack of external funding for PropTechs’. However, the pandemics proved bootstrapped PropTechs as more resilient since they have larger cash reserves than VC-backed startups. A widely recognized hurdle is the cooperation between industry corporates and startups. While there are some examples of real estate players collaborating with tech solutions, there are only single cases in the construction industry in Bulgaria.

Jakub Licak, Czech & Slovak PropTech Association:

There’s a high demand for solutions of all types. I disagree with the conventional wisdom that Western European companies are more progressive and tech-savvy. In many cases, we see Czech and Slovak companies operating on a higher level of digitization than their western counterparts. From market intelligence, workflow management towards customer experience.

Milan Bogar, PropTech Slovakia:

In general, the biggest PropTech challenge is lack of new Investment & Financing platforms that are focused on development of real estate and lack of specialised accelerators or incubators focused on PropTech. PropTech is still relatively unknown term in Slovakia and it is our mission to change it.

  1. What’s your message to PropTechs as a co-organizer of the 1st international PropTech Conference in the SEE?

Sylvia Pavlova, PropTech Bulgaria:

This Conference is one-of-its-kind. It provides direct information on near country markets and the right connections if a PropTech wants to approach for an initial market research.

Furthermore, it is a great chance for PropTechs to meet personally with Property Developers in SEE countries and create leads.

They can also take advantage and get to know what PropTech solutions are out there in the country they plan to expand to.

Jakub Licak, Czech & Slovak PropTech Association:


I can see two clear benefits for them:

1. Smart exposure to real estate developers – their potential clients.
2. Opportunity to meet other European PropTechs and create new business partnerships.

Milan Bogar, PropTech Slovakia:

I would warmly invite all PropTech companies to the 1-st international PropTech Conference in the SEE that can contribute to improvement of construction and real estate sector in SEE and want to scale up with their solutions to other countries. International co-operation, exchange of knowledge and building relationships is basic condition for improving either our built environment or coping with global climate challenges that are ahead of us in the best possible way.

We are looking forward to line-up of great speakers that will be present on this amazing event. Big thank to PropTech Bulgaria for organising the whole event and giving us chance to contribute with our co-organisation.

Although rea estate is very local phenomenon, thanks to international business co-operation, new technologies can bring in many improving features that are not limited by country borders.

  1. What Property Developers to expect from the Conference?

Sylvia Pavlova, PropTech Bulgaria:

Definitely, getting access to the right international network; meeting all type of PropTech solutions; getting to know the key players outside their home country, and of course, so valuable information that they cannot get access to outside this Conference.

Jakub Licak, Czech & Slovak PropTech Association:

I believe property developers can only benefit from meeting PropTech companies:

They can learn what new technologies and solutions are available for their business.

They can network with other property developers and get valuable insights from other markets.

Milan Bogar, PropTech Slovakia:

Property developers can expect amazing event broadening their knowledge, relationships with suppliers of new technologies that can immensely improve their buildings, innovation workshops with some of the best experts in the world with many experiences from other countries. There is very impressive line-up of other well-known speakers that all developers should be looking forward to watching them.

Read the full interview with Milan Bogar here.

Read Bulgaria-as-a-PropTech-Service here.

 

Posted on August 25 2020 on Unissu.

Updated: June 11

(The survey is still open. Should you wish to share and inspire with another PropTech solution, please, send it to us on e-mail: info@proptechslovakia.sk and we will provide sharing with wider European PropTech community)

Alphabetical order:

AKULAR – provider of smart AR application for developers, architects and communities came up with two COVID fight initiatives that are available globally during the crises:

1. Virtual walk throughs in video calls: FREE support for developers and leasing managers who have unoccupied empty spaces and cannot host site visits. They can now join their calls with AR demonstrating sites as if live walk through.

2. Free support on construction sites: AKULAR made its premium service FREE and offer FREE support for field staff by dialling in to their calls and helping to geo-locate real size 3D models for remote visual inspections.

Contact: marketing@akular.com

Web site: https://akular.com/

AUSEMIO – provider of scalable asset management platform came up with additional functionalities to fight against COVID19 that can be integrated:

– Secure and automated measurement of temperature of all persons moving through foyers and receptions of business centres and other buildings with supporting navigation and alarm functions.

– Digitalisation of supply and stock management systems in hospitals and other exposed buildings for safe distribution of healthcare and other working equipment (manual tools, masks, gloves, etc.) to avoid traffics, physical contact and lack of critical supplies.

Contact: info@ausemio.com

Web site https://ausemio.com/en/

Biotron Labs – provider of advanced data analytics solutions for smart cities. To help cities attract people to use public transport again and decrease the traffic congestion, Biotron Labs is offering 50 % discount on its location intelligence and mobility analysis workshop until the end of June. They also offer consulting and support with analytics to better understand the movement patterns and how they change in time. Biotron actively participated and provided mentorship during the Hack-The-Crises hackathon.

Contact: Pavol Magic, CEO, pavol.magic@biotron.io

Web: https://biotron.io/#/

INFOTECH – provider of real-time platform including 3D Digital Twins (in PropTech segments of manage&operate and live&work – smart buildings). Recorded increased interest in its functionalities that enable indoor positioning and to monitor movement of people and their meeting activities. Infotech provides its 3D modelling without the need of physical meetings with customers and provides 20-25% discounts during the crises.

Contact: michal.malik@infotech.sk

Website: www.rtls.solutions

Innovatrics – a provider of biometric solutions based on fingerprints and face recognition – has seen a huge increase in demand for its contactless technologies as well.

– Innovatrics has tested its face recognition algorithms with people wearing masks and even in this set-up they have proved to be working without relevant decrease in accuracy, security and comfort of users. Innovatrics has also added features of face mask detection and thermal control. After all these tweaks its access control can now measure temperature of the visitors, check whether they are wearing masks and even identify them with their masks on.
– Innovatrics started to enable remote installations of its solutions even in off-line areas with restricted high-security access. Solutions of Innovatrics can thus be mailed anywhere in the world and installed remotely via “Innovatrics Virtual Engineer”.
– Third anti-Covid solution of Innovatrics is app for smart quarantining at home that has been created in joint effort with Sygic – global navigation player. The app safely checks presence of people at home based on the same technology that is used for the banks when they enrol new clients remotely and need to verify their identity reliably.

Contact: marketing@innovatrics.com

Webpage: https://www.innovatrics.com

Lightech – provider of interior and exterior lighting for properties, cities and municipalities – has developed protective UVC system (utilising disinfecting power of Ultra Violet C rays) as reliable disinfection management system. The system is applicable in any administrative building and it can be built in stationary lighting system and connected to sensors of presence, movement, CO2 levels and intensity of lighting.  The advanced system can use sensor of effective dose of UVC radiation.

Contact: info@uvcsystmens.sk

Web: www.uvcsystems.sk

Pygmalios – provides real-time management system mainly for retailers that was developed to assist with following the strict hygienic norms and regulations issued by the government during the COVID-19 epidemic. Thanks to a high-precision-rate sensors, such system is able to partially replace an employee’s physical presence and regulate the number of visitors entering the store. The tool oversees customer in-flow and notifies the store manager in case the occupancy limit of the store is reached. Pygmalios offered the software to state and municipalities for free and was ready to agree on leasing of hardware or to find other acceptable solutions.

Contact: info@pygmalios.com

Webpage: https://pygmalios.com/occupancy-management/

SAMO Europe – provider of advanced neuromarketing methods and proprietary solutions has developed a device called QEHeC – Quick Entry Health Check System for measuring body temperature together with emotional index of an area and disinfecting functions.  The QEHeC is managed by a smart unit, that can analyse factors of environment and its impact on body temperature. Based on this information system automatically adjust errors in measurements. The system has added camera for measurement of emotions, age and sex, which can be done while measuring body temperature. Analysed data show emotional index of an area. To be able to process all function accurately, the QEHeC has an automatically adjustable stander that adjusts its position according to height of each measured person. The device has a smart aromatization and disinfecting unit that starts spreading disinfection when it detects a person with a higher temperature.

Contact: info@samoeurope.com

Webpage: https://samoeurope.com/

Sensoneo, global provider of smart waste management solutions (HW/SW), which can be found in more than 300 projects on 5 continents and 43 countries, has seen increased interest in smart waste management solutions -obviously, the crisis enhances and drives adoption of innovative technologies. Cities, waste management companies and property managers look for solutions that could help them cope with the current challenges – standard waste production hotspots have moved, households and residential areas have become the new hot spots. Higher consumption of protective equipment and longer stay at home has led to a 25% increase in waste production. Sensoneo has developed and offers Waste Collection Efficiency Analysis to help cities and waste collection companies to cope with the worsening waste situation. The Analysis evaluates efficiency of the current set-up, simulates and models impacts of eventual changes and suggests new collection routes and frequencies.

Contact: info@sensoneo.com

Webpage: https://sensoneo.com/waste-management-solution/

Solved – Finnish-Slovak provider of customizable white-label platform for creating marketplaces in the area of sustainability and smart cities has provided its platform for the project www.ready.help free of charge. This way medical volunteers could have been affectively connected for volunteering in hospitals and other medical institutions around the country. During the first week, 1400 volunteers could have connected and started help in more than 60 hospitals.

Contact: https://www.solved.fi/

Webpage: https://www.solved.fi/

There, s.r.o. – start-up providing geospatial platform for real estate agencies and other real estate professional in nine European metropolises has offered its headline product City Performer for 3 months for free (since beginning of the corona crises). After the months for free it has been offering the platform with > 50 % discount in order to enable their customers to cope with negative impacts of the COVID19 crises.

Contact: info@there.digital

Webpage: https://there.digital/#home, https://cityperformer.com/