Hamburg is the home for many diverse startups. Our section “Office-Safari” offers you an exclusive insight into the startups in this city. Enjoy an exclusive behind the scenes glimpse into the ecosystem and be fascinated by some very inventive business models of Hamburg’s startup scene.
With centuries of maritime history, Hamburg is well known for its architecture that attracts tourists from all over the world. But Hamburg is also known for being a prime location for valuable real estate and the real estate industry in general. Companies like Union Investment — Europe’s largest real estate investor — have their headquarters in Hamburg where they profit from the close proximity to Hamburg’s startup scene. One of these startups is REOS, a prop tech that supplies its own cloud for the management and administration of rental properties. REOS was founded by Kjell Ole Beckmann and Tom Leppin. “In Hamburg, the investors and the industry know-how converge. This may not be well known outside of Hamburg due to the typical Hanseatic understatement, but should not be underestimated,” says Kjell.
REOS offers a holistic portfolio and real estate management that is completely digital across the entire rental cycle — starting with the application process with a virtual apartment tour and online rental contract — thus transforming the traditional real estate industry. In addition, the REOS platform allows controlling building technology, recording consumption values in real time, offers tools for communication between tenants and landlords, and digital deposit and rental management.
“By modernizing the process of managing and operating large units, administration and tenants save costs and time,” explains Tom, “it’s a win-win situation.” For example, a tenant can view and conclude contracts online without having to be on site. Damage can also be easily reported using the tenant app.
Thanks to the Internet of Things technology the building almost manages itself as a smart building. Key handovers are replaced by access authorizations via app or chip card on electronic door locks. Time-consuming reading and checking of consumption values is eliminated thanks to the remote metering and monitoring. This further reduces operating costs and saves time. The half a day needed for the meter reading service can definitely be put to better use. Additionally, unnecessary journeys are eliminated, which reflects positively in the CO2 balance.
The two founders not only share a common background in the real estate industry, they were also friends long before joining forces to share and exchange information about their projects. The idea for REOS was born when Tom faced with a major challenge. When overseeing the construction of a student residence in Berlin as a project developer, he wanted to simplify the process of renting for future residents as well as streamline the administration and management processes. Unfortunately, that had not been possible with existing analogue processes — a digital solution was needed.
“We developed concepts on Tom’s kitchen table, working late into the night, and eventually papered the entire kitchen wall with our ideas,” recalls Kjell, “all this without the intention of founding a startup at this time.” That idea came later when other companies became aware of our software and hardware interface solution. “In 2017 we visited the Expo Real in Munich, Europe’s largest trade fair for real estate. There we evaluated the interest of our potential customers over a period of two days, numbering almost 60 appointments. We took a close look at which features were really relevant in terms of management and administration,” Tom remembers. “This turned an individual solution into a viable business idea, and ultimately into REOS.”
When REOS was released in the summer of 2018, the founders had already managed to secure the backing of six business angels to take their product to market. Good financing is particularly important because the real estate industry is not only very capital-intensive, but also has comparatively long cycles. “It takes patience and mutual trust,” explains Tom. “Of course, our own student dormitory project and our founding background helped us build that trust. As a platform provider we add our own experience from construction and project development that helps us understand possible challenges and fears of the owners, which is a great advantage for the real estate development of neighbourhoods and new asset classes in the micro living segment.”
The city’s funding initiatives for startups supports the founders of REOS and are in close contact with them about the development of the location. “In Hamburg startups are still asked what they like and what could be improved. We do appreciate that,” notes Tom. “Joint events and trade fair appearances, such as with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce or with Hamburg Invest at Expo Real 2019, help local giants and innovations to come together.”
This year REOS plans to oversee even more projects in Hamburg and continue its present rate of growth. For this, another business angel with the necessary industry knowledge was won. “Hopefully we will generate one or two headlines,” said Kjell.
Thanks for reading! We, the Startup-Unit, hope you enjoyed this insight. We’ll be posting articles on a weekly basis about the hanseatic startup scene and everything related to founding a company. For further information about the city and its thriving startup ecosystem visit startup-unit.hamburg.