26.8.21

A European PropTech View, Julien Schillewaert, PriceHubble

Welcome back to 'A European PropTech View, by Dilan Omari-Clark' our Q&A focused on European PropTech's.

26.8.21

Our Q&A series is an opportunity for our European team, headed up by Dilan Omari-Clark to discuss all things PropTech, Start-ups, and Career with different founders from across the continent. Each week we ask our guests some burning questions and quiz them about their product, we hope you find it insightful and enjoy getting to know the founders. 

This week we speak to Julien Schillewaert, CEO of PriceHubble.

PriceHubble was founded to bring transparency into real estate markets globally. They provide insights and solutions to their clients, allowing them to take smarter real estate decisions and enabling them to boost critical performance metrics in their business (e.g. client conversion, retention or rental yield). PriceHubble has gathered a unique team of data scientists, engineers and seasoned entrepreneurs to provide its clients the most advanced real estate insights, seamlessly integrated into their daily business processes.

The company was founded in 2016 and is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

How did you find yourself working in the PropTech sector?

About 10 years ago, I made my first steps into the startup world by joining a Swiss FinTech company, MoneyPark, an independent and tech-enabled mortgage broker (the #1 in the country today). I worked there for about 5 years holding various roles, including Chief Product Officer. I left to study for my MBA and joined the PriceHubble adventure two years later in May 2019 as CEO.

As an international company, what are the main differences between the markets you work across? (E.g Tokyo vs Amsterdam, Paris vs Berlin)

Real estate is still a very “local” industry. And for us, it starts with data. The data and data sources can vary widely from one country to another, but our team of engineers rose to the challenge and built a data infrastructure that is completely modular and can adapt to the local specificities.

While the PropTech “movement” has now touched most markets by now, it hasn’t done so at the same speed. We can observe significant differences both in the competitive landscape and the adoption of new digital solutions by real estate players.

What remains constant in each market though is the need for more transparency and customer-centricity. We provide the same data-driven digital solutions in Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin to help customers make better real estate decisions and improve the customer experience.

What are the challenges in Proptech for your company? 

Founded in 2016 in Switzerland, PriceHubble is one of the fastest growing PropTechs in Europe and experienced massive growth both in our numbers of markets and customers - and it doesn’t come without any challenges.

First, and as mentioned above, because real estate is local, we always need to find the right balance between localization and scalability of our solutions. It’s one of the reasons why so many PropTechs haven’t managed to cross borders.

Second, we have the ambition to become the #1 player in data-driven digital solutions for real estate and finance in Europe & Asia. And for this to happen, we’re assembling the strongest team possible. Since we’re growing fast, finding the talents at the right pace is always challenging.

What is a frequently asked question you get about your product?

Question: «How do your solutions differ from traditional real estate valuations?»

PriceHubble provides machine learning-based real estate services with a focus on valuations and value forecasts, presented in an engaging visualisation. By providing customers with cutting-edge real estate valuations and user-friendly insights and analyses, PriceHubble defines a whole new level of market transparency and enables its clients to make smarter real estate decisions - for themselves and their customers.

Once again, it starts with data: In the countries where PriceHubble operates, we’ve built one of the largest and cleanest proprietary databases for residential real estate.

PriceHubble's technology is unique: our data engineers and scientists have developed proprietary machine learning algorithms to provide the most accurate valuation models on the market. PriceHubble invests extensive data resources to understand the marginal impact of every single parameter on property prices - that is what PriceHubble calls “explainable AI”.

We go far beyond the usual location factors and can provide more than just information such as current and projected market and rental value. Our model also takes market dynamics in the surrounding area and location criteria, such as noise level, accessibility, sunlight or the quality of the view as well as planned new construction projects or socio-economic developments in the neighbourhood into account.

And it’s only possible because we’ve built one of the largest and most skilled data and tech teams in Europe dedicated to residential real estate.

Behind PriceHubble's data-based property value analysis is a sophisticated AVM

What do you think is most important about the digitisation of the sector? 

Real estate is still lagging behind many other industries when it comes to its digitalization. And while the PropTech movement has helped a lot, I think it’s important (and time!) that it reaches the end consumer. To give you an example: Automated Valuation Models (AVM) have existed for a long time but were always built for professionals (e.g. mortgage lenders) and never with the perspective of a buyer or seller in mind. It only exacerbated the asymmetry of information and the customer journey didn’t improve. That’s changing now and will only accelerate from here.

How has the last year impacted your business?

We had a very successful last year: we tripled our customer base to over 800 companies and doubled the size of our team.

The pandemic obviously brought a lot of uncertainty to the market, which meant that transparency was even more important than before. In addition, with the several lockdowns and lack of contacts, many real estate players had to accelerate their digitalization strategy if they wanted to stay relevant and competitive. While the industry as a whole was impacted, we’ve managed to successfully weather the challenge and kept our momentum.

Tell us about your recent company successes.

PriceHubble has reached two major milestones in the last couple of months. The first one in June, as we entered two new markets - Czech Republic and Slovakia - with the acquisition of the PropTech Realtify. There is a strong growth potential in Central and Eastern Europe and adding Realtify to the team enables us to accelerate our market expansion in the region. PriceHubble is now operating in nine countries with over 130 specialists.

And second, PriceHubble just raised a USD 34 million Series B round to strengthen its leadership position in Europe and accelerate its international expansion. It has been a very successful round, led by Digital+ Partners and with significant investments from Latitude Ventures, TX Ventures and from our existing investor base, among them Swiss Life and btov/Helvetia Venture Fund. It’s again a major milestone towards accomplishing our vision of becoming the undisputed leader in data-driven digital solutions for real estate and finance in Europe and Asia. The whole team is excited about the next leg of our journey and we’re always looking for great talents to join us!

 


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