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Interview with Sylvia Georgieva, Founder, PropTech Bulgaria&CSEE PropTech


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SpotUs.Space has recently joined Proptech Bulgaria, an esteemed proptech association that supports the growth of proptech startups in Bulgaria and also, the region. PropTech Bulgaria has built the largest existing database of European-origin PropTechs. Year-to-date, the core database consists of ca. 5,000+ European-origin PropTechs, and the extended database amounts to ca. 6,600+ European-operating or related companies. These are distributed along 35 European countries.


To celebrate our newest partnership, we interviewed Sylvia Georgieva, Founder, PropTech Bulgaria&CSEE PropTech.

 

●      How do you see the development of the CSEE proptech industry? What are some important trends founders should keep in mind in 2024 and beyond?

 

"I shall share 2 trends that are common for all 10 CSEE* countries, and one which makes them different from each other.

 

Related to PropTech: the CSEE is THE European region which registers growth in the PropTech sector. Regions like DACH, BeNeLux & France have registered decline for years now. In terms of number of newly established PropTechs, the global PropTech sector registers decline since 2015, and there is a steep decline since 2019 according to Unissu stats.


Bulgaria is the most PropTech developed CSEE country with a 33% share from all CSEE PropTechs. Next come Poland and Slovakia with very similar shares: 13,18% and 12,42% respectively.


The CSEE region holds a 16 % share from all European-origin PropTechs. DACH leads with a 24% share; BeNeLux & France holds a 16% share, and the Nordics contributes with 15% to the European PropTechs.


It is vitally important to position the CSEE region where it belongs – as the European region which is preceded only by DACH in PropTech.

 

However, not the number of PropTechs is decisive for a certain country market, but the type. Here comes the role of such players as PropTech Bulgaria as we know exactly what types of PropTechs are there in each of the 35 European countries; if there is a market niche for a certain kind of solution, or rather, the market is over saturated with many similar solutions, etc.

 

Related to general macro economic trends, I’d like to emphasise the Nearshoring trends which were fostered by the economic turbulence stirred by Covid-19 in 2020; which gained pace in 2022 with the military operation in Ukraine, and is gaining additional speed with the European green legislation that is being enacted now.


Since 2020, more and more western European businesses move their Research & Development (R&D) facilities in CSEE countries. Thus far, we got used to having their low-cost facilities moved to our countries based on the low expenses’ rates. Now, we see how complete R&D and high-tech manufacturing facilities move to the CSEE countries. This, of course, advances the demand for high-end space, which impacts positively the demand for certain types of PropTechs in the CSEE. Surely, this same trend eases the market entry of western European PropTechs which move together with their clients.  

 

And the 3rd trend relates to the general development of countries in terms of asset classes. What I mean is that the asset classes development in each of the 10 CSEE countries is completely different. It is not safe and rational to judge for one country based on observations in another.


There are countries which are part of the European industrial powerhouses such as Poland and Bulgaria; others are better development in Retail and Logistics such as Romania; yet other lead in the Office asset class such as Poland and Slovakia. Though all countries have extensive Residential, conditions for building Residential differ vastly, hence, there are no two countries with the same profile and business assumptions."


*The CSEE countries we annually analyse in our BULGARIA & CSEE: PropTech Mapping Reports are 10 countries (in alphabetic order): Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Rep., Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia.

 

●      What does the ecosystem need in order to grow even more?


The answer is: collaboration among countries in supporting CSEE PropTechs to expand regionally. This is important due to the fact that the startups in the CSEE region have never enjoyed the external funding volumes which have always been available to western European startups. Consequently, western European startups have more and easily accessible ‘fuel’ to expand internationally, while the CSEE startups don’t.


For example, the Total VC Investment YoY in M USD, 2023 to 2022 for the UK was 20 billion USD; Germany – 8 billion USD; France – 9 billion USD; Switzerland – 3 billion USD.

Let’s see the situation in the CSEE: Bulgaria – 70 million USD; Romania – 186 million USD; Poland – 282 million USD; Czech Rep. – 181 million USD. This is an indicator for total investment in any tech solutions.

 

However, we have the investment data for 2022 in PropTech for Spain, Denmark and we generated it for Bulgarian PropTech. What turns out is that the investment volume available to Bulgarian PropTechs for a 5 years’ period (2019-2023) equals what Spanish and Danish PropTechs have at their disposal for just 3 months’ time. This is truly an unfair start for CSEE PropTechs when they consider their international expansion."

 

●      There are so many solutions on the market, addressing all verticals in real estate (office, residential, retail etc.). What does innovation look like, given not only the increasing number of proptech solutions, but also the changing social, economic, financial context?


"Based on our 6 years’ long researches on Bulgarian, CSEE, and European PropTech, we can definitely outline the following criteria which determine high level of competitiveness in PropTech:

Cover more than one PropTech life-cycle stage; serve more than one asset class; collaborate with other PropTechs to create a more holistic solution, rather than be a stand-alone small solution."

 

      What ensures a good collaboration between a proptech startup and their client, from your perspective?

 

"The answer is very simple: a holistic solution.


Corporates are tired by employing tens of small PropTech solutions which even can hardly communicate between each other. Hence, corporates are looking for a holistic solution which solves as many issues as possible, rather than one issue at a time.


Moreover, it is vitally important for a PropTech to be open to adapt and develop new features which are required by the customer as essential for the operations of the latter."

 

      What convinced you that Proptech Bulgaria and SpotUs are a good match?


"We always make an in-depth conversation with a PropTech company in order to detect if we can meet the needs of the company with the services we provide at the price which the PropTech can afford and which is meaningful to us. If we cannot agree on this simple points, we reject the company. Our team at PropTech Bulgaria is glad that we reached a common understanding with SpotUs on all these points, which paves the way for a smooth one-year long collaboration."

 

●      What are your plans with PropTech Bulgaria and CSEE PropTech this year?


"We have shortly released our bespoke reports – the 6th annual edition of BULGARIA & CSEE: PropTech Mapping Report and the 3rd annual edition of EUROPEAN PropTech Report: 35 Countries in Numbers.


As you know, we are the only one who release PropTech reports covering so many European countries in details, as well as covering our region – Central & South-East Europe, based on our database of 6,500+ tech companies database.


In the coming month we shall officially open the closed-access Slack group where we shall freely share insights on PropTech from these two reports with PropTechs and corporates. For companies we select there will be a one month’s free access. SpotUs, being a Gold Member of PropTech Bulgaria, shall have limitless access to the Slack group and the insights we share therein.


In the next 2 months we shall announce some thriving news about benefits Gold Members of PropTech Bulgaria can take advantage of."


To learn more about Proptech Bulgaria & SpotUs.Space please visit: http://proptechbulgaria.eu/spotus.

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