Realpad was always well-placed to take advantage of the rise of institutional BTR investors. For years, it’s been building its client base across Central Europe by working with developers of classic build-to-sell projects. Such has been the company’s success that at this point “we don’t announce every new customer,” says head of sales Roman Ptáček. “We are currently acquiring 8 to 10 customers each month, so the plan for the next year is to grow from 100 to 200 customers.” That’s considerably quicker growth than in the early days. “We got our first customer in 2014, so I think we had our first three in 2014 and then we doubled it almost every year.”
It means that Realpad has arrived at a new chapter in its development just as the build-to-rent era of residential real estate gets underway. And while Ptaček doesn’t roll out a press release for every single new customer, he’ll make some exceptions. Like with a new agreement with AFI Europe, who will use Realpad’s management solution for its planned portfolio of rental schemes in CEE.
Sudden, rapid growth often proves to be a tricky process to navigate successfully for young technology companies, especially ones that have a significant customer service component. (Realpad’s customers in this case are, of course, the developers and building owners, not individual tenants). Obviously, the more that customers can set up and manage the management platform themselves, the more efficient Realpad can run. But there are obvious limits to this. “I don’t think we will ever reach a point in which there will be no human contact,” says Ptáček.
In order to stay in close touch with its clients, Realpad has what it calls a ‘customer success’ team. “It’s a small market so you can’t afford to have unhappy customers. We are growing very nicely, but we are super-proud of our retention. Every year we keep 96% to 97% of our revenue, which is way above the average technology companies. If I look at the customers who started working with us in 2014 – 2016, 95% of them are still with us.” The company succeeded in closing a new investment round at the end of 2021. These will be used in 2022 to increasing the platform’s capacity, while focusing on user experience.
In terms of future growth, Ptáček, has a straightforward formula. “Our math is to double the customer base every year, but the idea is that the team grows just 50%. That’s the advantage of a software product — you don’t have to hire more and more engineers to serve more and more customers. So, the plan for the next year is to double the customer base and when it comes to the team, we will grow from 32 to 50 people next year.”
Ptáček claims that Realpad is one of those rare bootstrap companies that’s been profitable from day one. That is, until 2021, when they decided to invest in growth, which is another way of saying they hired more sales staff. From a technological standpoint, 2021 was a year tweaks, but 2022 could see the company finalize its new digital signatures capability. He says that while Realpad’s investors have been patient with the company, they’ve initiated a new round of financing so that the company can begin to grow more quickly. He said that along with AFI Europe, Sebre and CPI have also been recent Realpad solutions to improve their sales processes.
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