The Munich startup casavi was founded in 2015 and offers a cloud platform for digital property management. The platform makes it possible for housing and property management companies to optimize internal processes while also simplifying communication with their customers and service providers.
If you ask people in large cities like Munich to describe how they interact with property management, the typical answer involves terms like “analog” or “notice boards in the building.” That was exactly how casavi’s founders, Peter Schindlmeier (CEO), David Langer (CTO) and Oliver Stamm (COO) felt about property management three years ago. The three were working in different companies back then – Peter in pre-sale for an international SaaS company, David as a developer for a startup in the energy sector and Oliver was in project management for a consulting firm.
How frustration with management led to the founding
Oliver explained how it came to the joint founding:
“David and I had studied media informatics at Ulm University together, and I met Peter in 2008 in Australia.
Peter and I were having a beer together about three years ago and we were getting worked up about how slow our property managers were and how difficult it was to reach them — in a day and age where it seems like almost every other area of daily life offers digital support. And that was how the idea was born for casavi – a service platform for communication and simplifying workflows having to do with property management.”
casavi’s customers are property managers who pay the startup a monthly fee to use a flexible service platform that is customized with their own brand, and an app is also included. This allows property managers to digitally channel communication with owners, tenants and service providers. Important messages, bills or documents about the execution of services — the customer platform can manage it all.
With casavi, property managers can communicate faster and easier with customers and service providers while also reducing the number of telephone requests and postage costs. In turn, the process management that is provided organizes their internal procedures. At the same time, it also increases customer satisfaction.
Don’t be discouraged!
But is their idea really so new? Oliver replied:
“We obviously cannot say we invented customer platforms or CRM systems. We are also certainly not the first to have been involved with the subject in the real estate industry. That being said, the market was characterized more by customized developments and solutions that were not very technically oriented.
So in the beginning, property managers repeatedly told us <we had a customer platform once, but it didn’t work properly>.”
But the founders did not let that discourage them. Instead, they are focusing on three core areas: the scalability of implementation and use, increased productivity for property managers and a contemporary user experience for those using the platform. By combining these areas, casavi has created a product that can be successfully introduced in a short period of time, even for several thousand apartments.
Although the startup has only been on the market for about three years, a lot has happened. More than 150 customers from different segments of the industry with a total of roughly 600,000 units now use the platform. Of those, a good 100 customers decided to work with casavi in the last twelve months.
The starting point: a dining room office and three pilot customers
The pilot stage with three test customers has been history for quite some time. And casavi is still growing, added Oliver:
“Since our beginning stage with the three of us working in Peter’s dining room, our team has grown to include 17 employees and should expand even more in 2018. So we are going to be looking for a bigger office once again. If you have any good tips for us, let us know!”
Although things are going really well for the Munich startup, challenges are part of daily business for the company. We wanted to find out about the startup’s biggest challenge to date. Oliver said:
“That question is hard to answer because so many challenges come up when starting a company that you are ill-prepared for or not prepared for at all. The biggest challenge by far was entering the real estate industry and proving our right to be there as newcomers.”
That is never easy in the beginning as a B2B startup without customers, revenue or a success record, regardless of which industry you are working in, he added:
“In the real estate industry, you need to have quite an amount of staying power, especially if you are not originally from the industry and do not have the relevant contacts.”
“The only thing that really helps in the end is being persistent”
What particularly helped the casavi founders was their persistence and being present at important industry events, which led to constant contact with potential customers and partners. Oliver elaborated:
“When gaining customers seems to take forever in the beginning, it doesn’t matter how enthusiastic you might be; you get to a point where you start to question your own business model. It is also good and important to constantly put your idea to the test. But I still discovered some new gray hair after the whole experience.”
For a startup active in the real estate industry, Munich is not the only possible location since Berlin or Cologne would also be suitable. Nonetheless: Munich constantly offers interesting points of contact and customers for casavi with its real estate trade fair Expo Real and exciting construction projects like Schwabinger Tor. At the same time, the startup is also active in Austria and Switzerland, which makes Munich the perfect hub for business.
The Munich startup ecosystem has also actively supported the young company. During the company’s founding, for example, they made intensive use of offers from BayStartUP. Oliver explained:
“We were able to receive feedback through the business plan competition, and also participated in the seminars offered, which constantly taught us new information about what we needed to pay attention to when founding the company.
It is also where we established contact with our current investors, High-Tech Gründerfonds and Bayern Kapital. Especially if you do not have any experience in founding a company yet, the offers are exceptional. Particularly in the beginning, that can be what determines whether the idea will actually turn into a startup or if it will just disappear in a drawer somewhere.”
We look forward to seeing where casavi’s journey takes them — will they become the next unicorn, or will we see them soon at the Epic Fail Night? Oliver answered with a laugh:
“Well, I guess if every founder was able to answer that question realistically, then there probably wouldn’t be an Epic Fail Night to begin with.”
Proptechs — a growing sector
The Munich startup benefits from the current level of activity in the industry. The founder gave a more serious answer:
“There is an increasing number of “proptechs” who come together in associations like the German Proptech Initiative, which opens up new opportunities and business models for the real estate life cycle. Real estate companies are waking up more as a result and also opening up to the stimulus coming from the younger scene. We are certainly benefitting from that.”
After all, casavi aims to fundamentally optimize the existing processes in property management. By doing so, the Munich company intends to play a central role in the future management of real estate.