Wohnungshelden and WIRO

Video interview with PropTech Startups

Provider

Integration partners

User

Wohnungshelden
Wohnungshelden’s digital solution optimises lettings for housing companies, cooperatives and estate agents.

WIRO
Feel at home in Rostock

User

Calenberger Immobilien
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Integration parter

Partner XY
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Provider

EverReal
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In an interview with Ambivation Managing Director Christoph Baier, Martin Staudacher, co-founder of Wohnungshelden, talks about his experiences in the PropTech sector. He also provides valuable tips and tricks for working with companies.Here you can watch the cooperation interview with PropTech Wohnungshelden as a video.

Christoph: Welcome, Martin Staudacher from Wohnungshelden. Today we are talking about the cooperation between companies and start-ups. We will also discuss concrete examples of cooperation between Wohnungshelden. Martin, the first question right at the start is, who are you and what do you do?

Martin: Thank you very much for the invitation! I am Martin von Wohnungshelden. We are basically concerned with the topic of renting and digitising it as far as possible. Always with a special view on the challenges of the real estate industry in the area of letting and where one could help specifically. It is also exciting for us to see how different letting can be, depending on the market and type of company. When we started in 2015, we were not yet fully aware that things can be so different. But that is exactly what makes the topic so exciting, and for us it is also an area in which we can offer a lot of support with digitisation.

Christoph: Can you present a concrete example of cooperation with a company from the real estate industry?

Martin: Basically, in the overall market of housing companies we differentiate between private and municipal companies. This is important in advance because it also has a very strong influence on how the letting process is structured. Today we also want to look at the municipal housing industry, with a market that is largely a letting market. There is often a large surplus of potential tenants looking for a flat in markets such as Munich, Berlin, Hamburg or Frankfurt. These are all classic markets where there is simply extremely high demand. As an example for today, let’s take a market that works in a similar way, but is perhaps not quite listed among the classic markets. This is Rostock and there is WIRO, an example that shows us how differently residential letting can work.

What is special about WIRO is that it has almost 40,000 rental units, which are managed virtually as part of the company’s own portfolio, i.e. also for third parties. You have to reckon with a fluctuation rate of about 10%, which is about 4,000 rentals per year. Now it is particularly interesting here, because the letting here is structured quite differently from, for example, Gewobag, a cooperation which you have already introduced. There the focus was always much on public marketing. For historical reasons, WIRO in Rostock is a market participant that every interested party has on its radar. The background to this is that every third person actually lives at WIRO. This makes it clear to everyone that if I’m looking for a flat in Rostock, I first look at WIRO. That makes it very exciting, because the processes change accordingly. WIRO hardly needs to advertise because everyone knows them. Nevertheless, there is a large surplus of interested parties compared to the flats. And these interested parties must also be processed as quickly as possible, in the best case as digitally as possible.

Christoph: How does the company benefit from working with you?

Martin: Basically, we actively involve interested parties in these processes. This means that the interested parties can carry out the majority of the activities themselves. In other words, the interested party is taken to the WIRO website where they can create their profile and application. We then implement a matching process. This involves comparing the flat with existing applications, and these can then be supplied with offers accordingly. Offers are sent to the interested party at the push of a button, and they can obtain information, report back at the push of a button, book appointments in the next step and even fill in self-declaration forms digitally. And so we have then completely digitally mapped the chain from notice of termination to the conclusion of the rental agreement, which was still highly individual in the past. In the past, a lot of communication took place via e-mail or telephone, bilaterally, which of course makes it very tiring to communicate with a wide range of interested parties. Coordinating appointments, as we all know from our day-to-day business, can be a bit tricky when a certain number of people are involved. This is where the software helps us. This is comparable to Doodle, only integrated and of course DSGVO compliant. This is actually the basic requirement for us to be able to work there, and was also one of the key points that could continue seamlessly in times like these. We were able to arrange individual appointments with corresponding intervals at the push of a button, without having to arrange large numbers of interested parties. This was of course an exciting time, but fortunately we benefited from the flexibility of the system.

And what should perhaps be added is that we don’t always throw solutions over the fence and the customer has to accept them. Rather, we always take a very concrete look at what the tool is required to do. Both with regard to the individual landlords, but also to the market. So whether it is a strong or a weak market, this has an impact on the process. To close the circle, WIRO’s rental software is quite different from that of a company that may be active in another city. It is important for us to have a suitable exchange and to discuss with the companies how the software can be configured in the best possible way so that it can make the greatest possible contribution to the success of the respective company.

Christoph: That brings us straight to the next question. What tips and tricks for cooperation can you give to companies and other PropTech startups?

Martin: This is of course a very generic question, which is difficult to answer on an individual case by case basis. What is the challenge with us, we never always talk about the core process of leasing, this is not a process that can be changed quickly, but one of the basic processes. And it must work. Of course you can start pilot projects and then analyse what is actually still needed. The whole thing should then also be supported by business management in order to be able to make the right decisions. Derived from this example, it is very useful to do pilot projects if I am convinced that I can help the customer. However, the expectations should not be too high, because everything cannot be there immediately from zero to one hundred. You have to deal with everything together, and discuss this together in the pilot phase. What we have also experienced is that a company does too many pilot projects and these put a strain on the organisation. The organisation often does not want to carry out more pilot projects because they do not always work as planned from the beginning. Therefore I would say that a certain preparation of pilot projects is extremely useful.

This includes checking where our theses are, what we want to optimise with them, where we have current problems, and which five or six core requirements we want to map. Often in the pilot phase there is a desire for everything. It’s perfectly OK to look at the big picture, but in principle you should focus on the core of the function. I would also recommend this to various companies working with PropTech Startups. To decide which three or four core elements I need and then grade down which are really important and which are nice to have. For PropTechs, it is of course important to listen. It is often discussed that housing companies should adapt to the way PropTechs work, but this also applies the other way round. We also have to adapt! We have to understand the working methods of the housing companies, how their processes and organisational structure are organised and how they work.If we don’t do our homework, we won’t be successful in the process, i.e. pilot project and possibly rollout. I think it is very important that there are two sides that have to approach each other. It makes little sense as a company to dictate from the top down “Dear PropTech, if you don’t do this, we’re not going to use you”. Likewise, from our perspective, it doesn’t make sense to say, “here’s the software and now use it”. The solution lies somewhere in the middle.

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Christoph: Great tips, thank you very much! What will move you in the next years?

Martin: Basically we have a lot of best practices. We have carried out many different projects, both with municipal and private housing companies. But also with cooperatives, which mainly have to look after the goals of the members, or with estate agents and housing administrators. All these target groups have different challenges, within these elements that need to be delivered. With a larger company size, such a product must then be more standardized, i.e. more clearly communicable. Because it is not affordable for us to carry out such an implementation project in every company as we do in a company that has 70,000 apartments. The trick is to put together the best practices in such a way that they can be easily rolled out to the right target group and hit the nail on the head. We started with larger housing companies and are now working on projects for medium and smaller clients that make these best practices easily configurable. For everyone who is interested in making rental processes, sales, apartments, commercial units, etc. digitizable, so that the topic can be depicted holistically without the need for further consulting services. Nevertheless, we are always at gunpoint when it comes to how best to approach such a topic. You may have to consider legal challenges and pay attention to anti-discrimination or DSGVO, for example. These are issues that move us and which we are happy to pass on when it comes to providing a solution to the broad masses.

Christoph: That sounds exciting and like a lot of potential. Finally, the short question, how can we best reach you and you?

Martin: We prefer it when customers send us a short e-mail or suggest a date. We always like to meet on site, and now we have learned that digital is also possible. But sometimes it is also quite good to meet in person to discuss topics. The procedure is that we first show the software, together with a few practical examples. Of course, we also understand which customers ask us for information and then go straight into specific challenges and possible solutions. So if someone approaches us, we first make a demo at the first appointment. Just give us a call or send us an e-mail, you can find all the information you need on our website. Then the process actually starts. How it works out always depends a little bit on the starting point of the respective company, that is individual. But a short phone call or an e-mail, then it starts!

Christoph: Perfect, thank you very much! That sounds like it should be. From my side, thank you very much for the introduction of you, for the cooperation examples, as well as the tips and tricks for cooperation. We wish you and you further success, and all the best!

Martin: Thank you very much! I am looking forward to the further exchange and I am always looking forward to your development. I believe we have the common goal of pushing digitalization in the housing industry. I am always very pleased when we, as different players who are pursuing virtually the same goal, go side by side.

You can finde more PropTech/ ConTech startup collaboration-interviews on our YouTube-channel. For a better insight and exciting info about the PropTech world, read our PropTech Startup Guide.

The interview was made by our partner ambivation. More information you will find here: https://ambivation.com/2020/11/24/interview-with-proptech-startups-wohnungshelden/

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