Start-up of the Day: Spaceflow digitizes a platform for tenants and landlords

Czech start-up Spaceflow is introducing technology to one of the most old-fashioned sectors – that of residential and office property rentals. “Our aim is to help digitize life in buildings for their occupants by providing easy access to all services, shared resources and the communication flow in the surrounding areas,” says Lukas Balik, company co-founder and CEO.  Spaceflow was set up 3 years ago by a former economy student and two experts from the real estate sector. “They knew that change was just around the corner. Together we saw that we could make a difference with a technological platform for tenants,” says Lukas. It seems that they were right. Today the start-up operates in 12 countries, including the US, UK, Denmark, Germany, and Japan. Recently it raised €1.6 million in funding.

What exactly is Spaceflow?

Lukas Balik: We are a property technology company. Spaceflow is an app that connects buildings with their tenants. It enables communication between a tenant and building owners or managers as well as with other tenants. The app can help you to book common spaces such as meeting rooms, parking spots or amenities such as a barbecue, or report maintenance issues to the building managers. It can facilitate connections to services in the area, for example dry cleaning, food delivery. Also, it is a hub for further smart building integrations such as smart access.

Are these things really such a problem for tenants that they need a special app to book a parking space or report a leaking faucet?

Firstly, if you, as a landlord, want to attract and keep tenants, you must react to current trends when tenants increasingly want top-notch services and a range of amenities. As a landlord, you can offer them various services, like fitness, wellness, food delivery and so on. Technology can help you to do that. More importantly, landlords can get new streams of revenue this way. Through the app, property managers can streamline payments for services and keep an eye on margins.

What is about the innovation that makes you different from your competitors?

The app has a number of components and modules. For example, we connect our platform with other smart building solutions. To give an example, we can connect it with digital lockers, a parking system or an access system so you don’t need to use physical cards to open the door. Instead, you do that with your phone. Also, we have an in-house team of community managers. This is crucial, because sometimes landlords don’t have the capabilities or the time to deal with new technologies. So, our community managers can help them to bring the project on board and acquire the right content and services for the users. They also help to evaluate what works well, get the right data from the platform and curate the best possible experiences for the tenants.

What was the best moment in the company’s history?

Recently. That relates to our latest investment round with solid partners who helped us scale our platform for the new markets. Another big thing for us is that we have just launched our first project with Allianz. Who, apart from being a major insurance company, is also one of the biggest real estate owners globally. The company has more than 60 billion assets under management. Our first project for Allianz is in their flagship building The Icon in Vienna.

And what was the most difficult moment?

I think it was when the company just started out, when every mistake that you make can hit you quite hard. When we started the first pilot, we chose an external IT company instead of building our own IT team. Yet an external agency is always a step too far. We had to figure out how to put our own IT team together. If you want to build something for the long term and for a global market, you have to be close to your developers in order to be able to design the best features and the best product.

What are your plans for coming year?

Obviously the most important thing is to have as many happy clients and users across the market as possible. For that, we’re strengthening our business development teams in several locations. Our focus in this round is on penetrating the European market and we also want to have our first large projects in the US. I’d love to see a lot of progress within a year. We might potentially be able find partners in the US in the next investment round.

What do you want to do in 5 years?

Our ultimate goal is that Spaceflow will become the standard for every commercial and residential building.

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Prague gets new European Institute for Artificial Intelligence

The Czech Republic will get a new Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Following two years of negotiations, the Prague-based Institute of Computer Science, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) was awarded the contract for the European RICAIP project (Research and Innovation Centre on Advanced Industrial Production). The center’s scientists will focus on the use of AI in industrial processes.

As the CIIRC announced at the end of last week, the contract is tied to an EU funding of 45 million Euros. The Czech and German governments will provide an additional 5 million Euros.

European Network for AI Research

According to Vladimir Marik, Scientific Director of the CIIRC, the new research center will be built in close cooperation with another Czech institute, CEITEC in Brno, and the German Centre for Mechatronics and Automation in Saarbrücken (ZeMa). As for ZeMa, this means the expansion of a partnership in the field of “Industry 4.0” that has existed since 2016.

In addition, the new research center will be virtually linked to a whole series of European scientific centers dealing with the use of AI in industrial processes. This is a prerequisite for the EU.

Robots per 10.000 employees, IFR

“We have set ourselves the specific goal of having a center within six years that is capable of setting up experimental robotized production lines for interested companies from all over the world,” Marik told the CTK press agency. Marik expects the CIIRC to be financially independent within four years.

Trend towards more industrial robots

The new research center in Prague follows the worldwide trend towards more and more robots in the production process. Only last week, the International Association for Robotics (IFR) announced that South Korea, with its large automotive industry and 710 robots per 10,000 people, is the current leader.

With 658 robots, Singapore is in second place, Germany is third with 322. With about 160 robots, the Netherlands are mid-table. The automotive industry is the all over leader with 1,200 robots per 10,000 employees.