All Posts By

Jill Herpich

Digitalization within the Real Estate industry

By Booster InsideNo Comments

Expectations vs. Reality

As an Accelerator that focusses solely on the PropTech (Property Technology) Industry, we directly experience the hassle of the Real Estate Industry trying to live up to speed of digitalization! Which, in other industries, has been an essential aspect to improvement and company development.

77
 

of real estate companies

do not plan on hiring additional employees for the company’s digital transformation process.

source

As the BFW concluded, there are a few digital frontrunners who implemented the bases, but 77% of the companies do not want to hire any additional employees for their digital transformation and 54% do not have any implementation plan concerning Digitalization. However, the best part of this survey is that these companies said, they have high expectations towards Digitalization. Wait… what? Yes, you read right, they expect technology to just happen to them. But they do not want/ have the resources to work with it. No wonder the BFW called this a Paradox!

The Real Estate industry is a little like my grandma: does not want to buy a new tv (hers is literally 15 years old) but gets annoyed when her remote does not work, her favorite channel is not available anymore, the connection is a mess and through this my brother or I have to regularly visit and figure out how to make it work again. We would probably have to get HER a new TV before she would ever get involved with “this technical stuff” herself.

Very similar to the Real Estate industry: it has always worked like this, why should we care about newer technologies? It will happen to us anyway. We do not have money or time for this. Let’s print this 70 page-contract, sign it, scan it, send it to the customer who has to sign it, scan it, and send back via carrier pigeon. No problem here. I mean, you would think that they would only wait for young motivated minds to ease their work flows and dearly welcome them to improve the processes, but this is unfortunately very often not the case.

Not EVERY real estate company does a terrible job at this, there are brilliant examples of big real estate firms getting involved with new technology such as BEOS. Already in 2015 when the term PropTech was still a quite unknown slang-word BEOS announced their cooperation with Architrave to build a strategy for digitalization within the company.

It was the aim to go from an analogue to a modern digital management for internal documents, easily accessible for everyone. A team of Developers, Designers and Usability-specialists helped BEOS getting into the digital age from here. Since then BEOS has been a continuous role model for digital transformation. They understood early on that this process is not only to simplify the usage for the employees and customers but also has its entrepreneurial and strategic advantages in terms of depth in detail, access and evaluation of the material.

However, there have been several cases where the cooperation between the two just did not work out. Several firms who wanted to cooperate with young PropTech startups and instead of letting the PropTech help them improve their business, the cooperation did not work as it should have and, in the end, unfortunately the PropTech went bankrupt. One can only guess but one crucial point for corporates in

working with a PropTech is that they must be extremely open to this cooperation, feel the motivation to work with them and even though it is way out of their comfort zone, to let them explore and maybe also criticize their previous work flows. This is a serious problem. Because in the end a failed cooperation will affect the startup way worse than the huge corporate for whom this is not that big of a deal. So, the cooperation with big real estate firms is important but not that easy to pursue as one would hope.

However, there are also fields in which a more modern and digitalized application in theory sounds terrific, but is not wanted by the users! A great example here is the latest hype about chatbots. More and more websites have the little popup with "Hi, how can I help you today?" come up when trying to contact them. The ZIA survey on the "digitial office" found out that 7 out of 10 people are opposed to talking to a chatbot rather than an actual human being. So, is technology approaching too fast for the people or are the people the one's not going with the time. I'll leave that decision up to you.

It is interesting how different the opinions on this topic are. The expectations are sometimes a lot different to what reality offers for this time and place. Thomas Birkle from the technology and service provider Robert Bosch concluded that Germany lags around 3 years behind England, the USA and the Nordics. The real estate industry is not dynamic, he says.

Thomas Herr, Head of Digital Innovation and Managing Director of CBRE, says that it will take 10-15 years until revolutionary technologies like blockchain, IoT etc will assert the market. Some even say that the digital transformation is not even here. Dr. Thomas Beyerle questions which innovations did take off in the real estate industry at all? Besides some approaches in virtual reality, management of documents and the flexibility of workspace there is not much going on, he says.

In conclusion: Yes, the expectations of some young motivated PropTech founders to disrupt this industry and become a unicorn in a split second like Airbnb is unrealistic, the established real estate players are a tough crowd, and this probably will not change for the next few years. However, we as an accelerator try our very best to simplify the cooperation between PropTechs and Corporates and bring them together on eye-level not only through our program but also through our conference FUTURE: PropTech in Berlin which we co-host to initiate and encourage the exchange of established Real Estate players, VC’s and PropTech founders.

What do you think? How can the real estate industry operate to achieve a better cooperation with PropTech's and establish technology in their companies? I would be happy to hear your feedback on this topic!

Have a good week 🙂

Jill

You want to be part of our Accelerator Program or become part of our Network?

Recap on 2018

By Booster InsideNo Comments

The company year 2018 for blackprint Booster is coming to an end. It was an exciting year for us! We want to take the moment to recap on the year and tell you what moved us, what we experienced and what changed. Enjoy!

PropTech Yearbook

At the end of 2017, Alex had the more analogue idea to come out with an overview on the PropTech scene in the DACH region in form of a book. Publishing a book is not as simple as one would think though. In a team of 4 people we scanned almost 400 PropTech Startups, meaning their business model, the founding team and their socials from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We gathered all this infomation as well as the typeforms some startups completed themselves, and previous data we already had into an excel (damn excel...), which then turned into the profile pages in the book. Next to this we started researching the different categories the companies were settled in to see how the distribution is in the whole scene. With all of this and the help of a wonderful designer from Operation Butterfly (who also designed "The Hundert") this then turned into our PropTech Yearbook! So much work, but so worth it now! It's great to hold something in your hands that you worked on for several weeks with your team and receive positive feedback from people.

Demo Day | Batch 2

On March 8th we celebrated our Demo Day for Batch 2! Over 90 people from the industry such as investors, VC's and other PropTech passionates came to Techquartier to watch AllVR, Simplifa, VRnow and wohnungshelden pitch their business model and present what they learned in our program. At the end of the event Alexander gave a short outlook on the upcoming batch where the booster wants to become more international and broaden its spectre even more. Great day and even greater to see now what they achieved in the last couple of months after completing the program. They are extremely hard working teams and it is great so see how successful they are!

Selection Day | Batch 3

After the second Batch ended, Jakob and Alex started scouting again for new teams for the third batch. Out of around 40 applications, we invited 12 of them to our selection day which took place on the 16th of May. Our investment committee consisting of Klaus Freiberg (Vonovia), Marc Stilke (Booster Co-Initiator), Axel von Starck (Hevella Capital) and Dr. Emilio Matthaei (Colinus) debated for over an hour with Alex and Sebastian which teams would be selected to participate in the next program round. They decided on: Bots4you, Rentseed and Stegimondo. Exquance joined a little later as well. In the beginning of August Batch number 3 could then officially begin!

FUTURE: PropTech Berlin

Our mother company blackprintpartners organised FUTURE: PropTech Berlin for the second time this year. It was an successful event with over 400 attendees, insightful panels and deepdiving tech speeches. My personal favourite of the year. The day itself was stressful but went quite smoothly. After this we held the second Franco-German PropTech meetup with Robin Rivaton, which was also very successful! I am looking forward to FUTURE: PropTech Berlin 2019!

Speeches | Moderations | Workshops | Interviews…

... you name it! Alex and Jakob are your people! Since the Booster's mission is not only to accelerate PropTechs through connecting them to renowned real estate companies, but also to participate and work for the constant development in the digitalization of the real estate industry they travel all over Europe to enlighten people on the topic. To only name a few, we made an appearance (Panel / Speech/ Moderation) at PropTech Riga, PropTech Russia Summit, Real Innovation, Real Estate Innovation Summit, MIPIM PropTech, Expo Real, ZIA Tag der Immobilienwirtschaft, FUTURE: PropTech London/Berlin/Vienna and many more...

Research

After publishing our PropTech Yearbook and together with our research pro Rame, we really dived deeper into researching. Together with Jakob, the both of them started working on a profound database with information on the PropTechs of the DACH region, to really acquire a deep knowledge of the market and its changes. This is one of our most important assets because it really demonstrates our broad market awareness. This database is the basis for the development of our statistics and overviews. If you are interested in our results, the button will take you to our graphics page, where you can also download them.

University Cooperations

We had so many student groups here at Techquartier this year, very exciting! We have official cooperations with Hochschule Aschaffenburg, EBS University of Business and Law and TU Darmstadt. About one we have to talk about in particular: Alex co-organizes the course "Entrepreneurship in Real Estate" at Hochschule Aschaffenburg, where the team with the best business model could win 1,000 EUR (sponsored by us!). The best part is, this team not only saw this as a university project but really founded their PropTech Startup based on this course. They are called DOCESTATE. We love to spark the founders passion in students and seeing them develop their idea and evolve into a legit business.
Other universities that visited us were IREBS Regensburg and HfWU Nürtingen Geislingen. Always a good time talking to young motivated people who are eager to learn about our scene!

Demo Day | Batch 3

The culmination of generation 1! We celebrated our Demo Day on 29th of November, together with our PropTech Alumnis, our Partners, our current PropTech teams and anyone interested in the scene! We kicked it off with a warm welcome by Alex and Sebastian and then Jakob presented our research results which we acquired in the last couple of months, which was very interesting for the audience (find our statistics on here under "PropTech Insights"). Then our Alumni teams (Roomhero, AllVr, Vrnow and wohnungshelden) presented their achievements after the Booster program ended for them, which made us very proud. They are working very hard and are all extremely passionate people! The most important part of the evening, which was our current Batch 3 teams Pitches, were successful as well. We are looking forward to hear more about what opportunities opened up for them after it. It was a great evening, which we ended with a couple bottles of wine, great food and nice talks. Now we are looking forward to starting Batch 4 and by this our second Generation!

4 new Booster Team Members

The Booster Team doubled in size this year and we are still recruiting!
Junior Marketing Manager Jill joined in January to support the Booster in the online marketing sector.
Research working student Rame joined in March to dive deep into the PropTech backgrounds.
Graphic Designer Felix joined in June to rescue the Booster from creating graphics in powerpoint, and is an immense support in the whole field.
Business Developer Mark joined in September to start developing the company builder within our company group.
Want to know more about everyone? We have a blogpost up introducing the whole team!

Scouting for new PropTech Teams

Also a very important and interesting, yet very time consuming part! Alex, Sebastian and Jakob go through all the PropTech team applications, coordinate videocalls with them, partly meet them in person and decide which teams we invite to our selection day to pitch in front of the investment comitee. This also contributes to our deep knowledge of the market, because we experience directly where the founding tendency is going at what time. Which aspects are important here? Definitely the team itself, their experience, if they can cover several areas of competence (e.g. tech, real estate...), then of course the potential of the business model and if one of the partners is fit to work with them. Very interesting!

Team Events

Next to the occasional beer after work, events for teambuilding are extremely important. For example in June we participated in the NAI Apollo charity soccer cup where we teamed up with some of our alumni team members, which was really fun! We also went to the annual summerparty from Feldhoff & Cie, which is also part of our company group. Paul held a big barbecue at his home, which was cool! Also, so much fun was our internal christmas party with the "SleevesUp"-team, where we played lasertag and had glühwein and snacks at their open space in Rödelheim. We are already looking forward to the next team events!

What an eventful year it was! Thanks to everyone who contributed to it. Now, we will go into the christmas break, rejuvenate our powers and start our work freshly in 2019.

Happy Holidays!

The Booster Team

An Estonian PropTech Journey

By Booster InsideNo Comments

Since our fourth batch is going to start so soon, Jakob took the trip to Estonia to meet up with several PropTechs and talk to them. Keep reading if you are interested in learning more about our selection process.

Accelerator Program

In December I visited Estonia for the first time. Why? Apart from being personally curious about the most digitally advanced country and economy in Europe, I was looking to meet some promising PropTech companies for our Accelerator program, restarting in spring.

We at blackprint got a good feeling about how Estonia and Estonian founders work, when Kristi and her colleagues of "Moderan" joined our first batch in January 2017. Since then Alex actually is an e-resident of Estonia, mostly because Kristi forced him to (as she did not want to get paper-based signatures from him in the future), but partly because it is exciting to get to know such a system first hand. Kristi, who has been in the digital startup scene of Estonia for more than 10 years now, is a great example for what makes Estonian entrepreneurs special (but also Baltic entrepreneurs in general) as well as stand out (and successful):

They aim for and think international right from the start. That is why Kristi came to blackprint two years ago, and that’s why her commercial lease management solution is sold nearly as well in Germany as in the Baltics. Although most Estonian startups are and were created in Tallinn (among them Unicorns like Taxify, Skype and Transferwise or prominent software companies such as Pipedrive), during my preliminary research and my visit to Tallinn, I learned that Tartu is home to a substantial amount of young and promising tech companies (you will find two of them below), so it is definitely worthwhile to visit both cities, when you go to Estonia!

I only had one day for meetings in Tallinn, nevertheless I was able to get to know a substantial part of the real estate-related tech scene over there. Following, you will find a quick overview of the places and companies I visited:

Kristi Hakkaja from Moderan together with Co-Founder Raiko Uri aswell as Booster CEO Alex at Techquartier Frankfurt.

PropTechs

01. Hausing

When I came to the office of Hausing, I instantly realized that I just walked into a tech company. The most important part of their office equipment seems to be a gaming area with an impressive collection of mostly classical games and consoles. That being said, they are working on an impressive and extensive tool for property management which promises to automatize a lot of tasks around this area.

02. Bauhub

Unfortunately, as Teet and his teammates from Bauhub are situated in Tartu, I was not able to meet them personally but instead had a call with them shortly after my visit. Their solution is a mixture of a document and project management software specifically geared towards construction. It was really refreshing to see modern principles of software development and UX applied to such a non-digital area, so I’m keen to watch their ongoing progress!

03. BitofProperty

Karl and Taavi are running one of the most innovating Crowdfunding platforms in the Baltics and are another perfect example of the international thinking of Estonian founders. Their company is based in Singapore and Tallinn and capitalizing on the best those cities can bring to businesses, especially in the tech and financial world. You might think that real estate crowdfunding is a well-covered area of the PropTech scene. But, keeping in mind that BitofProperty is structured in a totally different way than similar business models in Germany and what Karl and Taavi have planned for the future, it might be worthwhile to keep them on your watchlist.

04. Bailsman

The team of Bailsman, of whom I personally met Indrek, James and Peeter, might be the most impressive combination of people I’ve encountered on my journey. They have built companies around payments and financing before (Supplierplus), seem to be fantastically connected among banks and are now taking on the huge market of rental deposits (respectively guarantees in their case), which makes me extremely curious for their future development.

05. Consorto

Philip, the founder of Consorto, is one of the few founders I’ve met in Estonia, who has a background or previous experience in the real estate sector (which is similar to the market in Germany). Although his business model of a commercial marketplace has been and is being tried a lot of times and some might say it is a moonshot, his real estate expertise and knowledge connected to their tech team and the fact that they are currently part of the Startup Wise Guys program might make a difference this time.

Accelerator & Coworking Spaces

I’ve seen and met a lot of Accelerator programs (and know how hard it is to build and run one). Nevertheless, Startup Wise Guys sticks out from all of them. Firstly, they are one of the only serious non-corporate B2B focused programs I’ve seen. Secondly and more importantly, they might have one of the most impressive track records in the whole of Europe - solely the fact that they did over 100 investments to date would be enough for such a statement, but there is more. They also compiled an insightful Baltic Startup Scene report, which you can find here:

Baltic Startup Scene Report 2017/2018 by Startup Wise Guys and EIT Digital

02. Workland

I nearly spend half a day at Workland since Consorto and Startup Wise Guys are located here. The place has a pleasant and quiet atmosphere, and although being equipped with latest technology the space feels a lot like a large living room.

03. Lift99

Even though I did not get to meet Elise and the team of Lift99 it is most likely one of the largest epicenters of the Estonian tech scene. This is especially because of the community they build around it, which is based on close ties to Pipedrive, Taxify, Toggl and other prominent players as well as international relations (e.g. their hub in the Ukraine). It was recommended to me beforehand several times and definitely is on the top of my list for my next visit. If you are a founder, you should also check out their online founder matchmaking tool F2F!

As you can see, there are a lot of inspiring and interesting companies and places to visit in Tallinn. And Estonians are really open for international guests and contacts, so a visit is totally worth it! That experience being told, I want to thank all the fellow founders for having me and letting me see a small part of the Estonian PropTech scene! I hope to return really soon!

New Batch, new Teams – Interview with Mietwise

By Booster InsideNo Comments

We are happy to go into detail about the first team who was on board for our third Batch: Mietwise

We asked about their backgrounds, what their current plans are for the next few months and what they expect from the program with us!

Who are you guys and what is Mietwise? Maybe introduce yourselves first.

I’m the CTO of Mietwise, and yes my name is really Storm. As a web developer by trade, I’ve been a freelancer for most of my working life - about nine years - and I moved to Germany last year from South Africa. Before that, I was doing some travelling while working, a "digital nomad" if you will. I met Jon at Sprachschule in Munich, where we were both trying to learn German, admittedly not doing too well. That's when we started working on Mietwise.

How did you guys come up with the idea?

I’m Jon, the CEO of Mietwise. While I was in the UK, I was working in Corporate and Investment Banking in London. I was always interested in banking but then got a bit frustrated by the lack of digital processes in place and the number of ideas not being turned into reality. High finance is all well and good, but you don’t get very creative moving money from one place to another using systems first introduced in the 80s! I saw this also happening in the Real Estate industry, where there are still a lot of manual processes in place. So I thought - why not combine the two, finance and real estate (i.e. rental deposits), and digitise the existing process.

Can you shortly break down what Mietwise is about?

Okay, so Mietwise is a deposit management platform for landlords, property managers and tenants, which will eventually be available across the whole of Europe. We are going to be starting with Germany as it’s the largest and most ripe market for disruption. After that, we are going to branch out to other EU countries. We're lucky in that there is nothing quite like Mietwise that currently exists, or which could be as scalable thanks to Open Banking. We want to make it as easy to use, accessible across markets, and to bring it to market as soon as possible.

Storm: Right, it’s a straightforward idea. We take deposits on behalf of landlords from their tenants, and then pay the tenants higher interest than they would typically receive. We also make the process more convenient for landlords and property managers. Moreover, to top it off, it’s free for everybody. The current system is outdated. It involves a lot of paperwork, administration and dealing with a bank. Thanks to Open Banking and modern web tech, we're able to simplify the process by bringing the two together in a way not currently available.

So what are your current goals? What are the next steps for your company?

Storm: The current goal is to release our client-side demo in August and start integrating with property management partners to improve their system when dealing with rental deposits.
Jon: That’s the short-term goal. Later on, we want to service the whole financial ecosystem that supports the rental and deposit process. So, instead of just handling deposits, we'll one day be able to collect the rent, automatically pay the landlord’s mortgage, and possibly integrate billing solutions - pretty much own the whole process. So, if you deal with anything property and finance related, you wouldn't have to move off of the Mietwise platform.
Storm: Exactly. Another goal would be to offer deposit lending to tenants who can’t afford or don’t want to pay their deposit up front. They would essentially pay us a fee, and we would cover the deposit on their behalf.
Jon: It would be an interest-only loan of sorts. So you don’t have to pay the whole thing in the first month, but instead, let’s say, you pay between €20 or €30 a month.
Storm: That'd be a secondary feature.
Jon: Oh, and in the future, we also want to offer rental guarantees as well.

And the last question: What do you expect from us as a PropTech Accelerator program?

Jon: Well, we’re both ‘internationally displaced’ at the moment so-
Storm: -German support *laughs* !
Jon: Pretty much! German and Real Estate industry support. I'm a Banker by trade and Storm is a Developer, so we need a team that can help us in the industry. I mean we may have a great solution, but we do need the industry know-how to work with.

Being part of blackprint, I now realise how unbelievably connected Rentseed is through the accelerator. Each time I have a meeting here, I'm impressed. It’s like there’s a new person that can introduce me to someone else, as each time I come out of a meeting, such as with Marc Stilke, my mind is blown!
Storm: The real estate partner connections are also impressive.
Jon: I’m somewhat disappointed when thinking about the program ending at some point, and I hope that we retain our relations and support structure with blackprint afterwards.

Jonathan Liemann
& Storm Farrell
Munich, Germany

We are looking forward to working with you and excited to see what you can achieve with Mietwise! Thanks for your time.