“We’re working on enhancing product and building strength globally.” How far will Spaceflow fly with a $1.8M investment?
One of the investors is the Hungarian Day One Capital. How did you get involved with them?
We’ve known each other for quite some time. One of the investment managers of Day Capital contacted me during the autumn of 2018 in regards to us winning the award for the best proptech startup in the CESA competition. He said that he had been following us for a while, he saw that we were doing good work, and he wanted to meet with us.
For us it was a bit too early, as at the time we weren’t yet ready for another investment round. But we exchanged a few messages, and for both of us it was clear that we should stay in touch and continue to talk about cooperation. Then something unexpected happened. “Our” guy left Day One Capital and put us in touch with one of the partners of the fund, who happened to be going to Prague the next day. We couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that, so we immediately met with him. From then on we spoke about the investment seriously, not just as a hypothetical future possibility.
How did the negotiations with Day One Capital proceed?
It helped that the Czech firm Credo Ventures was also interested, as they eventually led the entire investment round. Credo and Day One had already made a few investments together, so we knew that they would most likely work well together as co-investors. It made our position more confident and helped the negotiations run more smoothly. We of course met with Day One Capital a few times in person, for example at Pioneers in Vienna, at their headquarters in Budapest and at the Startup World Cup & Summit. As soon as we had a yes from all of the decision makers in Day One Capital and we knew that the main investor would be Credo Ventures, the whole investment round had a clear way forward.
The money that Spaceflow attracted will be used for expansion abroad. Can you be more specific?
Today we are in nine European countries, the United States, and in Asia, where our first catch is a Kazakh customer. Unsurprisingly, the majority of our projects so far are in Europe. Now our expansion will have two goals. Growth in America and in Great Britain. We already have some influence in both markets, but now we finally have a firm foundation to start to compete with local businesses. Of course, we don’t have a billion dollars at our disposal to take over and lead the whole market.
But we can now afford to add more senior employees to our team, who will in turn bring their own network of contacts, and won’t have to start from scratch. In the Czech Republic we have a strong foundation for development, and we have founded an American entity so that we can be as close as possible to our clients. This now owns all of Spaceflow, i.e. our Czech and British firms. Thanks to this, we’ve also been moving closer to another investment round, which we would like to hold directly in the United States. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Foreign markets will not be the only place where the investment will be utilized. Are you also going to expand the scope of the products?
Yes, absolutely. Foreign market and product development are the two main areas which we’re going to focus on now. We obviously would like our product to be the best in the field, so we’re also going to strengthen our development team. “Tenant experience” is on the rise, which is quite evident if you look at how WeWork's IPO is being discussed these days. The new functions that we’re working on will digitize buildings in a way which will directly benefit property owners and tenants. We want properties to fit the people using them as closely as possible.
How exactly can I understand the benefits of Spaceflow if I am a property owner or operate a coworking space?
We want Spaceflow to be available for multiple user groups – from residences, which can run the application right away, to office building portfolio owners, who have more custom requirements which we will help them set up. With Spaceflow you get a variety of services for your building, a booking and communication tool – the one digital platform which is notably absent these days. You can increase the comfort of your users or tenants. As an office, for example, you increase your competitiveness and attractiveness, as you are not just offering a workplace, but also event organization, bikesharing, social activities, etc.
Coworking spaces often have all of this, but are missing an application. Until now we have primarily seen ourselves as a platform which connects the community around the building. Now we would like to focus more on providing a new business model to landlords and owners, where users can order and pay for services directly within the application, which will benefit the services as well as the owners themselves.
We want Spaceflow to work with entrance systems, sensors, and other hardware of buildings, which we have no ambition to manufacture ourselves, but which can be connected to our application. In the future we must be able to offer customers a network of the right partners, not just ourselves.
Lukáš Balík is CEO at Spaceflow, a plug & play tenant experience and community engagement platform that helps landlords to attract and retain top tenants and raise profits. In PropTech, Lukas sees an enormous opportunity not just to make buildings smarter, but also more people-oriented, with access to all types of services, amenities, and community. Lukas is a regular speaker at major PropTech events worldwide, including DisruptCRE in San Francisco, MIPIM PropTech in Paris, and Future Proptech in London.
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