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 will ask PropTech innovators burning questions and quiz them about their product, we hope you find it insightful and enjoy getting to know the founders as much as we have.
This week we have been in touch with Sebastian Schuon, Founder and CEO at Alasco.
Alasco provides a cloud-based software solution that digitizes the financial management of construction projects.
Real estate companies often spend an enormous amount of time and resources on budget calculations, invoice approvals and spreadsheet-based cost controlling. Alasco helps these companies save time and money by enabling smarter, faster and safer ways to manage their project finances. It seamlessly connects all financial data and partners of real estate projects. This enables firms to make better decisions through solid, real-time data and sets them up for success in real estate.
I have lots of experience in building digital tools. With the launch of Stylight in 2008, we successfully digitised the process of categorising fashion – helping online shoppers compare prices from 1500 shops and 50,000 brands worldwide, then complete their order on one platform. With millions of shoppers per month, we monitored the performance in real time to manage our company’s success. I was also among the first investors in Personio, an HR solution for SMBs. During my board tenure, I saw the pattern of offering digital solutions that only large corporations could afford to the SMB market through SaaS.
Alasco started after a friend of mine, who’s a property developer and asset manager, was dealing with the problem of complicated project financial management. So I built them a prototype for an invoicing solution. I saw demand and opportunity in the development and asset management space that aligned both with our capabilities, and our motivation to build software for SMBs in Europe that fosters local business and ensures prosperity over the long term.
As Founder and CEO, I align everyone on the bigger picture – from product to the go-to-market strategy. Interacting with customers and building our company culture are also extremely important to me. We have two key components to success: developing Alasco in a customer-centric way to deliver the most value for our customers (a pattern that wasn’t fully applied before PropTech emerged) and building an A-Team of the best players to help realise that vision. We place a lot of focus on training here, to make sure each and every person at Alasco can realise their potential.
We work very closely with our customers to develop our product, so we already understand the challenges they’re facing. This customer-first approach allows us to have a proof of concept to support what we’re doing early on and continue working in the right direction. We know what we can actively influence to maximise the success of our customers’ projects – streamlining their processes, monitoring costs and cash flows, and helping them make better decisions based on reliable data from their real estate projects.
There are two things happening in the industry: on one hand, it’s still quite traditional and resistant to change and on the other, pressure from both outside and inside the industry is driving change, like new regulations, increased competition and the arrival of a new generation of talent who want to work in a more modern way. For us, it’s important to deliver on our promise to our customers and to continue sharing the expertise we have at Alasco, combining digital know-how with experience in the real estate industry.
Building trust and a strong connection with our customers is extremely important to us, and the long-term partnerships we aim for. We’re delighted that customers feel the same way once they start working with Alasco and see the real impact our products can have on their business – with many of them becoming advocates for our product and our approach in the industry. Together, we will bridge the gap in terms of the digitisation of finance and sustainability management.
We’ve grown rapidly, doubling the size of the team and reaching some of our most ambitious goals. The need for our product became even more apparent when the pandemic hit, with companies switching between the office and home working, having to implement new legal measures quickly (eg. when Germany temporarily decreased VAT from 19% to 16%) and customers developing a higher awareness of digital processes in general. Clients now see us as their go-to for software and innovation, so more approach us with their challenges and ideas. This, combined with our quick development speed and responsiveness to market demand, has helped us grow even faster.
That said, it’s important for us to grow sustainably and protect the company culture we all value here at Alasco – even when we triple in size.
We will continue to help our customers manage their real estate projects digitally, sustainably and successfully. With the introduction of the new ESG regulations, everyone in our industry will need to take responsibility for reducing their CO2 emissions – a successful strategy for which will require a solid plan of action and investment.
Alasco already helps customers gather the most important ESG data to support their future decisions, and we’ll continue to develop our product in this direction. The success of real estate projects will be heavily influenced by ESG factors and measured in financial indicators and Alasco is the only software that combines all of these components in one place.
Having recently secured our Series B funding, we’re extremely happy that we can now invest in this exact area. The funding also gives us the opportunity to continue our international expansion, which means that we’ll not only have to attract talent in new markets, but continue developing our product to meet the diverse requirements across Europe and solve the pain-points for customers in all those different markets.
I think we need to make our industry more interesting and attractive to professionals. We need to show the impact our work has to inspire talent to join us on our journey and help us achieve our mission. ESG is going to be an absolutely pivotal topic and I’m proud to say that Alasco and our customers are already frontrunners when it comes to sustainability management in our industry.
The real estate industry has one of the highest carbon footprints, so I think we can be really proud of the action we’re taking. Because now we have the tools to actually make a difference and have a major impact.
You need to be ready to drive change and actively create new solutions. I think that you’ll always need to be open to listening to the market, and to the people whose problem you’re trying to solve. Only together can we make a difference.
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