Proptechs : threat or opportunity for real estate ?

Panel Discussion with : Jérôme Verdusssen of Archi 2000 (J. V.), Fabienne Kaspers of IKOAB (F. K.) and Sven Janssens of Home Invest Belgium (S. J.).

Jérôme Verdussen, Operations Manager at Archi 2000

What are the major trends impacting your business ?

J. V. : We can see 3 main trends : circularity, evolution of construction modes, digitalization. 

S. J. : Our rapport to tenants is changing. They are now seen as clients, and we have to invest in that relationship. We focus on communication, and digitalization helps us be effective in this area.

F. K. : Our work is centered around two key values: service and sharing. To achieve our goals regarding these subjects, digitalization helps, but we also organize several face-to-face events, on site, in order to build a community spirit. 

How has Covid-19 affected you?

J. V. & S. J. : The pandemic has accelerated digitalization. We had to work remotely and be resilient but it played well. 

F. K. : An increasing number of people are interested in coliving solutions. They suffered from loneliness during lockdown and no longer want to live alone. We are also an ideal environment for all those working from home, because we offer many convenient coworking spaces. 

Sven Janssens, CEO of Home Invest Belgium

More concretely, what have you put in place? Have you partnered with startups, have you started specific projects, …?

J. V. : New project : The Monteco office building. It is the first high wooden construction in the European district. And for this project, the various technological innovations and the prefabrication process have renewed the way we work.

S. J. : We are considering partnerships with startups that can help us improve our service offering. Services are what sets us apart from private owners or sellers.

F. K.  : We do not create new buildings, we buy old, historic ones and we renovate them. But we sometimes have to rearrange their internal spatial organization to have bigger common spaces (eg large coworking, relaxation areas, etc.).

Can you elaborate on your “low tech” changes?

S. J. : We had a mindset change. Our relationship with the tenant, now seen as a client to whom we must provide quality services, opens up new perspectives.

F. K. : Society is changing, and our target audience too : we must adapt accordingly. Maybe we will set up co-seniors, co-families spaces, …?

J. V. : We are on a good roll, so we continue to work with the same effective methods as in the past. 

What are your views on corporate societal responsibility (regarding healthcare, equality, sustainability, …)?

Fabienne Kaspers, COO at IKOAB

J. V. : In the management of our projects as of our company, we put sustainability first.

S. J. : We focus on 2 aspects :  sustainability and keep housing affordable.

F. K. : We have two main goals :

  • provide healthy, sustainable, safe and accessible housing to our tenants.
  • represent and preserve our heritage sites (too many buildings left in ruins in Brussels).

What are your company’s goals for the next 5 years?

J. V. : We want to :

  • expand further
  • optimize our BIM expertise.
  • be a sustainable company
  • have meaningful projects
  • be team and people-focused

S. J. : We want to provide a full, improved range of services.

F. K. : We want to continue our expansion in cities and develop other forms of coliving.

Liuba Diederich