8 minute read
June 14, 2020
Showcasing Office Space in 3D with Bogdan Nicoara of Bright Spaces
This article originally appeared on www.buildingproptech.com, a retired blog where I interviewed proptech founders on how they were building and growing their businesses.
Hey Bogdan! What’s your background and what led to you working in PropTech?
I started my tech journey back in 2008 when I founded 4ideas Digital Agency with 2 of my friends. Soon after that Andrei joined as a CTO and because he proved to be trustworthy, future thinking and hard working, he became a Partner in the Agency.
In the last 12 years we worked at more than 250 digital projects for local and international clients. We loved creating digital visual experiences for our Clients’ public and that pushed us into web 3D technologies.
Last year in April we participated in the first regional Proptech Hackathon organised in Bucharest, as an agency. For us, that was a success because we won both the Leasing Challenge and the Main Event 1st prize. At the same time we realised we have much more to offer if we focus on one domain and if we put all of our experience, efforts and will to bring a successful proptech solution to life.
Immediately we decided to exit the agency and to start Bright Spaces. We finalized the exit in September and we managed to raise our pre-seed round in November 2019.
Then we got accepted into Pi Labs Accelerator, along with other 4 European companies (out of more than 600 entries). This pushed us to the limits and after 3 months of hard work, everything paid off: we now have our MVP finished, we are working with one in the top 5 developers in the world and we are in advanced discussions with 5 other players in the Office Space Market.
What problem are you working to solve with Bright Spaces?
RIght now, in Europe alone there are more than 1.2 billion square meters of office space.
Presenting the majority of these spaces is usually incomplete and lacks interactivity between Landlords, Agents and Tenants.
Why is that? Mainly because they use Basic Websites, PDF or printed presentations and overall scattered information on different online and offline environments.
This kind of office space display makes the whole pre-leasing process costly and inefficient.
Landlords need an internal tool to keep track of their vacancies (CRM/ERP).
Then, they need to engage with digital agencies in order to create websites and presentations and some of the Landlords also choose to work with other tools in order to 3D showcase their floor plans.
But all of these tools are totally disconnected from the Landlord’s CRM and from external tools like the Agents’ internal shortlisting software or from independent marketplaces.
This means that Tenants only receive basic, incomplete information.
Because of this broken process, even before Coronavirus there was an accelerated trend in the adoption of new remote visualization solutions like CGI imagery and videos, 360 tours, web & headset VR and even Augmented or Mixed Reality.
What’s the process been like as you build Bright Spaces?
We started this project with a Lean & Agile approach. We had discussions with more than 80 people before finalising our MVP and we always went back to the drawing board if we felt off-topic with any feature or process. Having our investors and mentors along, together with Pi Labs team, meant that at any moment we had someone to brainstorm with regarding domain, tech or startups related challenges.
Also, we started with 5 full-time members of the team, myself, my co-founder & CTO Andrei and 3 other colleagues from our agency. We knew each other and we used all the time to develop the product and get feedback from potential clients.
Right now we got to the point where we need to grow the team in Romania and in the UK and this is why we will start our seed round next month.
👋 Hey reader,
Colin here. If you're building or growing a real estate or hospitality tech company, you should sign up to my newsletter Proptech Growth Strategy Brief. Every week, I write a 3-point growth strategy for a real estate or hospitality startup, just like this one. Join the fun!
How have you gone about growing your user base and revenue? What has been most effective?
Bright Spaces is still early stage, we just finished the MVP and now we are working on implementing it for a very large developer. Also we are in advanced discussions with other 5 international developers with more than 1M sqm under management.
Our strategy is to start pilot projects that will prove the increased efficiency in the pre-leasing process and then scale corporate wide. Our markets right now are Romania and the UK, but we believe our solution fits the leasing process for office buildings all over the world.
What has been the hardest part of building, growing or monetizing Bright Spaces?
Because things happened so fast, we didn't have too much time to think about what was hard. I could say that everything is hard when trying to start and scale a startup in a domain where things have been done the same way for hundreds of years, like Real Estate.
But we are lucky to be here in a time of change. When technology starts to disrupt everything and if you, as a startup, have a real solution to a real problem, then all it takes is great execution to succeed. It is still too early to say how things will be for Bright Spaces, but we definitely see an increase in the interest shown for digitization of Real Estate and especially remote visualization.
What insights about real estate and technology have you came to realize while building Bright Spaces?
The most shocking thing I felt was the lack of digitization that still dominates real estate. But then what I realized is that because of this great need, a lot of new solutions will outgrow old habits, processes and even legacy software at an unprecedented pace.
I love this dynamic market and I feel that Proptech will be on everyone's lips in 2-3 years. Many of the established VC’s are now looking at this market and, at the same time, new, dedicated VC’s and Corporate Venture Arms are being born with the sole purpose of getting a big slice of the distribution that is still to come in the real estate industry.
We are extremely excited to be here and to feel this vibe first hand.