Munich Startup: The last time we spoke in early 2020, you said Shareyourspace wants to make the real estate industry more sustainable. Have you gotten closer to your goal?
Tobias Wagner, Shareyourspace: We have. The Shareyourspace mission of “boosting flexibility and sustainability in the office world” is growing in relevance and is gaining more and more attention not only in terms to flexibility, but also in terms of sustainability – in the real estate market as a whole. That’s obviously not just due to Shareyourspace, but we’re doing our modest share with our argumentation to use sharing to make better use of existing space. And it’s something everyone understands immediately – the most sustainable building is one that doesn’t have to be built! The best commute is a short one!
Shareyourspace: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”
Munich Startup: What obstacles have you encountered along the way?
Tobias Wagner: There’s a reason the real estate world is not very digital or revolutionary compared to other industries. There’s not just one real estate world, but rather a multitude of different roles and actors and business models, which means there’s a large number of sub-worlds. An asset manager has very little in common with a corporate real estate manager. That means sales, communication and scaling are challenges for every proptech that shouldn’t be underestimated. The same goes for Shareyourspace.
In the European and especially in the German real estate world, there’s not much of a willingness or desire to innovate and change. And that’s understandable since the traditional models have comfortably brought in good money for years. But that may also put business potential and the future in jeopardy.
Munich Startup: How has your solution evolved?
Tobias Wagner: We’ve been working on improving our services and processes. The range of workspace that’s posted by our Shareyourspace customers on our marketplace has also gotten bigger and more exciting because it’s now more heterogeneous. You can even rent mountain cabins and boats as workspaces now. Moreover, we’ve remained true to our positioning – not a niche, but all use cases – and to our basic concept of being the “Airbnb for the office world.” It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Investors aren’t courageous enough in Europe
Munich Startup: And how are things looking for you financially?
Tobias Wagner: We launched the marketplace just before covid and experienced all of the difficulties that followed. But we survived the freeze and are still alive and kicking. Our investors and team are committed because they believe in the purpose and necessity of our project. What would be great would be to have some serious growth financing and blitzscaling. The US is showing Europe how it’s done. And then we wonder every time why the tech heavyweights emerge on the other side of the Atlantic. What happens here is lots of talk, little action. There’s a lack of courage and strategic vision.
Munich Startup: What lessons have you learned so far in the founding team?
Tobias Wagner: Shareyourspace isn’t our first startup. But every startup is a new adventure with its own challenges, surprises and devils in the details. What we’ve learned on the positive side is that our view of the office market and the need for sharing and new work are being acknowledged more and more. On the negative side, we’ve learned that everything takes longer than feared and that the path between mouth and hand – from what’s said to what’s done – is long in the traditional real estate world.
Closing ranks with established market players
Munich Startup: What role has the Munich ecosystem played on your path so far?
Tobias Wagner: We deliberately founded in Munich. Munich and its metropolitan region are one of Germany’s most important office locations. And with our workspace providers in the region and in more remote locations, we can contribute to easing the urban-rural conflict and reduce workplace-related commuting in some cases. We’re also involved in the Spaces4Scaleups project, which is a great initiative by the Economic Development Agency of the City of Munich. The aim is to provide quick and easy Office-as-a-Service solutions for fully-fledged startups and smaller growth companies. You guys at Munich Startup are another exciting component in the ecosystem.
Munich Startup: What milestones are you working towards next?
Tobias Wagner: We’re working on strategic partnerships that make sense in the industry. Implementing a digital marketplace means you need to close ranks with established market players! That would accelerate the development of the market for the flexible renting and leasing of workspace. To go back to your initial question: Sustainability is what we need now, and climate protection can’t wait!