An interview with Ziggu CEO Yannick Bontinckx

Ziggu is a customer follow-up platform for property developers. CEO Yannick Bontinckx presents it below.

Can you tell us the story of Ziggu ?

The story of Ziggu is quite simple: we were looking for a solution to our problems, but couldn’t find anything that matched our needs. We all had diverse backgrounds in the real estate sector, but all of us felt the increasing need from homebuyers to be more involved. As property developer, architect or supplier, we all wanted to deliver a great customer experience, but our tools were not adapted to so.

Ziggu CEO Yannick Bontinckx

Indeed, for homebuyers, it is very difficult to keep track of everything that happens to the house during its construction. Most importantly, they don’t feel involved in what is often the most important purchase of their lives. That’s what we wanted to tackle in the first place.

Basically, we’re following the example of the banking sector, which went from physical management to virtual management in a few years. Now anyone can manage their accounts online, on the app, 24/7.

We can do the same in real estate : you just need the right tools.

Before we started building the Ziggu platform, we wanted to dig a little deeper. For a few months, we went door to door in recently finished property developments. We interviewed homebuyers about their experience, from looking for a home to delivery and after service.

Generally, they told us the same thing – they were happy with the quality of the building itself, but weren’t as happy about the level of service and communication.

With this wealth of information, we designed the first mockups of what would later become the Ziggu platform. Now it was time to go door to door at property developers and get their feedback and insights. The result is a platform that answers both their needs.

Image credits: Ziggu

… its mission ?

Our mission is essentially focused on two goals : 

  1. make the life of property developers easier
  2. improve customer satisfaction at the same time

Each and every feature we develop has to answer to both.

… and how it’s grown since launch? 

We are now active in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France. 

What was it like starting out, and what were some of the challenges you faced? 

When we started out, we immediately got confirmation that we were working on a real problem. On the other hand, many property developers were also afraid that all of this would increase the workload even more.

They had to trust us that communicating more openly and giving customers online access to information will result in an efficiency boost, less questions and more trust from homebuyers.

People need to realize that having an online platform is the new normal. It will soon be the same as having a website: a business is not taken seriously if it doesn’t.

And after, were there any difficulties or advantages in expanding into the Belgian market?

Thanks to our background in the Belgian real estate sector, we already had an extensive network, which made it easier to get started. We were also one of the first members of Proptech Lab, so of course, that made it easier to make new connections as well.

After a while there was even a kind of “snowball” effect: at first, we reached out to people, and they were happy with what Ziggu could offer them, so they started talking about it. Today word gets around and new property developers are contacting us. Everyone is hopping on the train now.

What are the product(s) and project(s) you are the proudest of so far? 

This is a difficult question; there isn’t just one feature…

But, in general, I would say I’m really proud that more and more property developers are really using Ziggu to its fullest extent. And that with Ziggu, they’re rethinking the way they manage and service customers.

And that is amazing.

Before we started Ziggu, I had this idea that in real estate, people were set in their ways. Even if they ran into limitations or problems, they didn’t change much, because it had always been that way.

But now, we can see that this pattern is changing. With Ziggu, it’s easier, more user-friendly, and they actually see customer satisfaction rates increasing.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the operations of your company? 

It hasn’t changed the way we work internally, because, before the pandemic, we were already a remote-first company, with many team members working across Europe.

Image credits: Ziggu

For some of our clients, on the other hand, the lockdown proved to be a challenge. Or at least, that’s what they thought it would be at first. For most, the transition went quite smoothly in the end. All their customer and project information was centralised on Ziggu and accessible from anywhere. They could simply continue working as a team from home.

The COVID-crisis definitely gave a boost to the digitalisation of the real estate sector in general. We have seen the number of new customers increase and users becoming even more active. So in that regard, while of course, we wish it hadn’t happened, there was a positive outcome for Ziggu as well.

Finally, where do you see the company in the next few years?

First of all, we want to continue our internationalization by expanding into other European markets.

And secondly, it is very important for us to satisfy our customers. This is why we continue to work on their feedback to improve Ziggu. At their request, we’re constantly developing new services and functionalities.

In the future, we want to be with our customers every step of the way, helping in all areas, from the conception phase to the final phase. One platform to manage the complete homebuyer journey.

Liuba Diederich