The real estate and facility management industry is nowadays implementing Industry 4.0 principles that can improve the health and well being of workers in various facilities. A Prague-based startup, Spaceti, decided to take advantage of this trend and in 2016 they introduced an all-in-one indoor location-based building digitization solution combining a mobile app, sensory devices, and a web-based dashboard. Set on a mission to radically redefine how people digitally interact with buildings and increase their well-being, Spaceti is available across Europe and currently expanding to the USA.
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Max Verteletskyi, a serial entrepreneur and current CEO of Spaceti. Enjoy the interview:
From Ukraine, through Michigan, London and Copenhagen, to Prague. How was your entrepreneurial journey so far?
In the middle of studies, IBM addressed me with an offer of summer internships and later a half-time job. After leaving IBM in 2016, I co-founded Locaid.me, an integrated indoor emergency system. We won the second place in the Vodafone Idea of the Year competition, which helped us a lot. In the beginning, we run a bootstrapped the company.
In May 2017, already as Spaceti, we received a CZK 28 million in investments from Reflex Capital and Fast Forward. We’re grateful for the extensive support and advice both investors gave us. Nowadays we are a team of almost thirty enthusiastic tech and property professionals aiming to digitize buildings.
Spaceti allows building occupants to digitally interact with the physical infrastructure around them. How did you come up with the idea and what are you working on at the moment?
At first, we concentrated on saving people in emergencies, focusing on evacuating them to the nearest safe emergency exit. Today we’ve advanced our products and services. Now we focus on our key customers requirements with the potential for long-term upscaling. We’ve opened talks with some of them about expanding the solution to other buildings in their portfolio. With some of them we are expanding cooperation to multiple buildings and even forming business or technological partnerships.
The solution itself is made of hardware and software elements, combined with and an app. How do they interact and what are the benefits of implementing such a solution in a building?
The Spaceti system works by retrofitting any space with vertically integrated hardware (Smart stone), firmware, and software (mobile app) with an open API to interoperate with building management systems, computer-aided facility management, and booking systems. This is all enabled via a friendly user-interface. The added value these new technologies provide is enormous for various types of clients. We divide the benefits into three categories, according to the target group:
- Real estate tenants/users:
Tenants/users will for example be able to analyse exactly how their space is being used. In this way, they can optimize the usage of their space and reduce up to 40% of their space by flex working and transform space that is hardly or wrongly being used into something useful. Also, their employees will have access to numerous functions on their smartphones, such as indoor navigation, colleague finder, instantly booking of a meeting room, emergency guidance, retail services etc. that will increase their productivity and well-being.
- Property and facility managers:
Availability of immediate and accurate key information of the real estate they manage, such as usage, temperature, humidity, CO2 level, controlling and managing access to the property, instant reporting of defects, etc. These managers will as a result of this be able to reduce operational costs substantially by streamlining their property and facility management.
- Owners/Asset managers
Having access to key information about their property will enable the owners to take the right strategic decisions to optimise value and return on investment. It will also enable them to improve and strengthen relationships with current tenants and attract new tenants by offering all great services that a digital real estate environment can offer
With paying customers in 10 countries at the moment, what is your impression so far?
The real estate industry needs to transform to be more flexible, people-centric and technology-driven and this is same across the world and not just a need specific to a certain region or country. Spaceti’s products alling exactly with those trends and needs. This makes it an exciting to time to join Spaceti as a partner, employee, or client as Spaceti brings a global perspective on all our business, operational, and product decisions.
A year after the launch, you successfully completed a trial carried out at Skanska’s UK head office and received over a million EUR funding. What are your expectations for the upcoming year?
Currently, our customers are Skanska, Cushman & Wakefield, Škoda Auto, HB Reavis, Zalando. We provide technology solutions that help solve our customers needs and establish a global network of business partner and we expect a bigger boom and higher adoption rate of proptech.
Spaceti currently employs 30 employees from 11 countries, spread between Prague and London. How does it feel to run such a diversified group of people and what are the challenges working in a multicultural environment like that?
We are really proud to have built such a great and talented team in such a short time frame. It all tracks back at our origins – founders met as colleagues in an international IT corporation having four nations from the start. I guess because of this we were able to attract others who looked for interesting opportunities. From our perspective having such a multicultural environment is not a challenge, but rather a great benefit – since when we have heated discussions and many worldviews meet together – a unique perspective comes as a result.
Tell us more about your planned upcoming expansion to USA? Is there another geographical region on your mind as well?
Spaceti has big plans for the U.S. and North America overall, which is among the largest real estate markets worldwide. We are currently in discussions with several local partners and clients (and always looking for more!) to help us bring our technology to the North American market in Q2 this year. Spaceti is also looking at Middle East and Asia as a big region for expansion sometime Q3/Q4 of this year, or early in 2019.
What is your opinion on the Czech startup ecosystem?
There are some very good companies developing their own hardware like we do.
As one of the most promising startups of the real estate ecosystem, what are the current trends in PropTech and how do you see the industry developing in the next 10 years? & What will Spaceti’s role be in that future?
From our perspective there are few major shifts that are happening. The focus is shifting from the efficiency and effectivity of buildings as structures toward becoming more people-centric. More and more property owners and tenants start to invest into technologies that help to increase the well-being and productivity of the occupants. Second trend is around the shared economy. In commercial real estate more and more offices will move to a model where co-working centers will become dominant – from well-known ones such as WeWork to emerging ones like Hub:Hub. This is driven by a fact that many tenants in the tech/media sector are not willing to sign in for 5-10 year lease agreements with fixed meters squared – since it is very hard to predict the office needs in such a changing environment; while big corporations want to benefit from a an “atmosphere” that is created by a great proximity to innovative companies.
Spaceti’s role and even its mission is to accelerate it and become a standard bearer for digitizing buildings. We want to lead people-centric digital transformation of buildings and spaces through innovation in location-based technologies.