There’s a tendency to reduce what proptech companies offer to an assortment of competing cool gadgets. Spaceti’s CEO Max Verteletskyi explains that conference room booking and parking reservations systems are only part of a larger shift to continual building performance monitoring. By tracking multiple data points and sharing the information, landlords can build trust with tenants and improve their user experience.
You started out providing everything from sensors and other hardware to the interface that tenants would use to monitor air quality, occupancy and book meeting rooms. You’re concentrating more now on the software that allows tenants and landlords to use data that the building is collecting. Why the change?
I believe it’s more about the big picture shift that is happening in our industry and it’s not just with us but with many building technology providers that are starting to open up. We’ve opened up to third-party hardware but we’ve also created our own API so we can connect to a landlord’s data cloud. That’s important because everyone wants to control their own data. Through our API, we are able to provide the data about air quality, parking, occupancy levels and then you can benchmark it with data about energy, about financial performance or whatever else.
When companies wanted to know how their space was being used before, they might hire a bunch of students to sit in the office for a week to keep a record of what happened. That seems a bit pointless when you think it. Even before the pandemic, patterns of office use changed all the time.
It’s moved from these short-term studies to continuous monitoring. This will be more and more common in the post-Covid world that you need to have this data as the needs of your people are changing. You have a fixed number of parking places, meetings and desks for your office. On the other hand, you have fluctuating demand depending on the situation depending, whether there’s a lockdown, whether people feel secure. It even depends on the weather or if it’s flu season. What we do is help companies to dynamically manage their workspace for their employees and create hybrid workplaces. So even if they don’t have a fixed desk anymore, they can book a desk or a meeting room and they can book a parking place. Or if they have an important call, they know they can book a phone booth. Otherwise, they might prefer to stay home or work from somewhere else.
That’s the big issue at the moment: managers and business leaders are trying to figure out how to get their people back into the office.
Absolutely. They want to enable the work environment to work. I believe the first thing that drives this is transparency of data. In the post-pandemic era, you have to be transparent both in terms of tracking and reporting Covid cases, but also about tracking occupancy levels and social distancing levels, and tracking the air quality levels in the building. Because today, employees are going to ask themselves “Do I prefer to spend my time in an office building or do I have better working conditions at home?” What we’re seeing is that having this data as an insight for the organization is going to be essential to figure out the return to work. Because I assume that if you can provide a much better environment to work and collaborate in, that I as an employee would want to come there to work and socialize.
Who are you dealing with now – the tenant or the landlord?
Our approach is to treat the landlord as our partner, because in the end both, we both get paid for retaining tenants and making those tenants happy. We offer a space management platform that offers basic functionality for the landlord or the property manager. This allows them to do booking, building administration, communication, maps and reports. What’s unique is that we’re not trying to profit from this space management platform. We’re offering it to the landlord on a partnership model. They then upsell a tenant-version of the app, depending on what the tenant wants to monitor, or control. If the tenant has an issue with parking, with air qualify, lockers, or with building access, they can order the modules they need. The goal is to make the tenant’s experience in the building as seamless as possible and to solve the any problems they have with the different modules.
The idea of sharing raw data between landlords and tenants sounds logical. Typically, though, there’s information or data that landlords would prefer tenants didn’t know — and vice versa. How do you get beyond that?
I think it’s different once they realize they’re on the same boat. The tenant wants to have as optimal an experience as possible. If the landlord is forward-thinking, they’ll see they can use this as an advantage to attract more tenants, so offering value-added modules and information and being open about it is better than hiding a problem.
We had a one case in which our client (a tenant) was monitoring air quality with our system and they noticed a major CO2 level increase. They wrote to our support team and said they were getting these strange readings. We could tell it wasn’t just one sensor and that there was a problem affecting the whole floor, so we told them to speak with their landlord. But when they did, the landlord claimed there was no problem and refused to give them access to the BMS system. It wasn’t until a few days later that the landlord came to apologize and admitted the HVAC system had been damaged by construction work on the floor above. As a result, fresh air wasn’t being brought into their office. Once they recognized the problem, they were able to solve it. The point is that with full transparency, landlords can be more proactive in reacting. They don’t have to deny a problem, but instead collaborate to solve them and provide them better space and experience.
Shouldn’t the landlord have been monitoring that data? It sounds like a security guard falling asleep on duty.
That’s absolutely true and the reason is that that data was siloed. It was buried somewhere deep in the landlord’s Building Management System. What we do is put all of that information front and center for everyone and set certain thresholds for notifications. So, it’s becoming a system that wakes them up. That ends up providing a better experience because the landlord can identify the problem in time because he got an alert and then he can go fix it.
If the landlord had actually gone to the tenant and said they’d detected a problem and then fixed it, then the tenant is going to think someone’s got his back.
Exactly. We help to build trust between landlords and tenants.
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