The purpose of partnerships: Wouter Truffino on PropTech

Slowly but surely, real estate giants are seeing the light and seeking out the benefits of proptech – innovative technologies that are specifically focused on the real estate sector. One of the most influential people in this field is Wouter Truffino, an international speaker known for his expertise in proptech, his bright orange braces and much more besides.

As the founder of networking association Holland ConTech & PropTech, Truffino has brought together countless start-ups and corporates in the world of real estate over the past four years. Many Dutch start-ups, including hello energy, have since become serious players in the market. “It gives me great pleasure to see that organisations are now understanding that they need innovative young businesses for many purposes,” says Truffino.

The (young) history of proptech
The world in which Truffino matches start-ups with established corporates has undergone rapid change. Until 15 years ago, he worked in construction as a business developer. Even then, however, Truffino had a passion for innovation and wanted to do more in that respect. “Eventually I started my own business and began helping other companies create an innovative culture as a consultant. During an interview on BNR news radio, it became clear to me that my business wasn’t scalable. I decided there and then to focus on establishing a network association in the construction sector. That’s where I feel most at home.”

Starting a network organisation focused on innovation in such a conservative market was no easy feat. “It was difficult at first. When the start-ups were in their early stages everyone was still in their niche and unable to meet corporate demands. Smart entrepreneurs began partnering together to draw up proposals and this resulted in significant growth.” The attitude of the corporates transformed. “Innovation was initially difficult for them and they were reluctant to involve externals. Nor did they know how to deal with smart solutions from the new generation of companies. Now they often understand that innovation is indispensable and that is thanks to these partnerships.”

Sustainable innovations
Many of the innovations are related to smart buildings, sustainability, and mobility. According to Truffino, sustainability is especially complex: “The Netherlands is way ahead of the pack when it comes to legislation and regulations so companies have to search harder for new solutions.”

But there’s still a lot to be gained, Truffino adds. “New legislation such as the compulsory energy label C for offices and the EBS requirements [Dutch energy monitoring law] mean companies don’t approach start-ups as often as they should or could. We aim to stimulate them to do so as innovations will then make an even greater leap forward.” Truffino sees clear opportunities for hello energy in this respect: “It is a great help that you provide insight into the energy situation in real estate. This is a smart move as it motivates people to reduce their energy consumption.”

Saturation
Although the market for innovations continues to grow, space in the market for them is becoming limited. “Several companies have been working on Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, data visualisation, and sensors for at least four years. As a start-up in its first stages, it will be hard to catch up. I don’t mean this as a discouragement to new businesses but as a warning. Choose your niche and work together with other proptech firms.”

All too often companies are trying to reinvent the wheel. “Tweaking an existing product is easy, but using that to grow is not, especially as many start-ups drop the ball on marketing and communication. This is a tip for anyone in business: in the Netherlands, we excel at making new products but sometimes forget that marketing them is equally as important. Large companies won’t find you if you are invisible.”

More information on how your property can comply with energy label C? Never heard of the EBS requirement? Or simply interested in issues related to real estate sustainability? We’re happy to tell you more: email us on hello@hello-energy.com.

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