What’s happened in 2021

10 months of hard planning came to fruition in a one day event extravaganza- PropTech Innovation Award and Summit 2021! Opening and closing its doors with a *Bang*!
On the 23rd of June, the digital-hybrid event went live in Union Investment’s ivory high-tower hometurf Hamburg. Since its inception 5 years ago, the initiators have upped the level of spectacle, quality and reach – crafting a prestigious property technology award and summit with each yearly endeavour.
5 years ago the PropTech Innovation Award entered the scene with a mission to bring together the brightest and most active minds in the property technology sphere and showcase the most innovative startups in Europe. For its first run, the numbers convinced the team that such an event had potential. In total 250 startups showed interest in the award and roughly 170 participants came to the event. Thus, UNION INVESTMENT and GERMANTECH validated interest for experts and professionals within the industry, and continued to funnel more funding and efforts into expanding the PropTech Innovation Award and Summit vision.

5 years later, the set KPI’s for each annual event, particularly for this summit, met all expectations. With the pandemic disrupting normalcy in all facets of life last year, the organizers quickly reacted with a digital event in 2020 with only 6 weeks of preparation. Thus, this year the aim was similar, but with some digital event experience under their wings, 2021 would embark on yet another challenge to overdo its already very accredited reputation.

Ultimately the “Acceleration of the PropTech Evolution” could also be accounted for in this year’s set goals: 180 complete and finalized startup applications from 40+ countries, 1100+ registrations, 700+ event viewers and 500+ live spectators came together to watch 4 stages with over 7 hours of live streaming displaying 50 speakers, 15 startups, 6 judges of excellence and  5 elite real estate partners bringing together key-findings and insights to the industry spread across the globe. 

Star Studded Startups

Most importantly, of course, the star studded and very international startup candidates
rigorously, but politely, battled in receiving this year’s 2021 PropTech Innovation Award Crown.
Each category underwent a stringent evaluation process via the UNION INVESTMENT and GERMANTECH experts, seeping through the 180 inspiring and talented startups, to narrow down who the top 15 startups would become in representing their respective categories.
In total this year’s PropTech Innovation Award and Summit dedicated their stages to 5 vital industry topics looking to “Accelerate the PropTech Evolution”. 

These being:
“Supporting Real Estate Value Chains” hosted by Drees & Sommer with the representative startups Imerso, SpinalCom & INPERA GmbH

“Future Proof Offices” hosted by Bosch.IO and Run this place had Ubiqisense, MyPup, My Pick Up Point & Good Monday as their startup pitchers.

“Smart and Sustainable: Connected Cities and Buildings” hosted by Cushman & Wakefield  displayed startups placense, GREENbimlabs & AMPEERS ENERGY GmbH.

“New Concepts for Urban Living” hosted by The Class Foundation with Animus, limehome and igloocompany fighting for the win

“Re:create Retail” was hosted by iMallinvest Europe GmbH had Wishibam, Ariadne Maps & Fyma competing to reach the final stage.

When the Jury Voice Counts

Once the top five finalists, best pitch of each category, were voted on by the category session viewers, the startups took the final stage to be judged by the international and diverse 6 head jury:

Dr. Christoph Holzmann MRICS – COO, Union Investment Real Estate GmbH

 Benjamin Rohé -Founder and Chairman of the Board, GERMANTECH

Franziska Teubert -Managing Director at Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V.(German Federal Association of Startups)

 Andrew Knight– Data & Tech, Thought Leadership & Analysis, RICS

Dr.-Ing. Claudia Nagel – CEO and Founder at High Rise Ventures GmbH, Founder of KIWI.KI GmbH, Board Member of Immofemme e.G., Professor at bbw Hochschule

 Sam Anders jr – COO, PHYSEE Technologies – Winner of PropTech Innovation Award 2018

With such strong innovative competitors, what followed was a lively discussion amongst the judges, with three startups taking the podium. Interestingly enough, in light of last year’s development of Covid-19 nearly annihilating the local retail sectors around the world – it became clear that the PropTech Innovation Award would highlight solutions against the plight and set the tone to “accelerate” this particular sector.
Finalist WISHIBAM’s digital solution accompanies shopping centers and city centers into the digital transition, battling the Amazon model, and was crowned as the PropTech Innovation Award Winner 2021 with CEO Charlotte Journo-Bau gracefully accepting the title.
In second place, the jury decided that above all, and especially in times of crises, solutions should be centered around the people. With that Mik Strøyberg CEO of 

Good Monday, a leading workspace management platform for modern office management, powered by local providers, with communication, planning, quoting and invoicing made simple and easy, was overjoyed coming in a close second.
In third place, the jury placed  placense –  an anonymized mobile location data telling where people come from and go to at any time – knowing that their CEO Dan Gildoni would easily continue their successful track record with its deep tech innovation. 

Limehome and Imerso were amongst the top 5 startups.

BONUS: Learnings for Event Organizers

What did the organizers, we,  learn along our journey?

  • Timelines

Timing is everything, especially when lots of variables can quickly alter the procession of timing. Starting nearly 8 months ahead of time, we set an event date and begin calculating backwards what factors need to be completed by when. Giving ourselves enough “puffer” to foresee bottle necks and find solutions.

  • Expect the unexpected

Nothing ever goes perfectly, but it can. Having an agile and flexible mindset is always key when planning a large event. Something is always bound to come up. If it does, communicate the various options, work loads they might or might not require, others unexpected issues and risks that could turn up and be prepared to iterate your process – always. 

  • Practice never runs out of fashion 

If you are planning an event with lots of speakers, particularly given the nature that some speakers are still learning on how to present or need to learn how to become comfortable in public speaking, then enable your speakers by building in tools to help them gain ground under their feet to feel confident when the stage lights go on. In our case, our startups were put to the test on numerous occasions and had to pitch, pitch, pitch. Thus, once the live event came around, their pitches were seamless and, if you watch the videos, extremely well executed!
Our speakers and jury members, anyone that was visible during the live summit, had multiple run throughs of the tech set up and rehearsed their set ups at the location.  This is extremely vital to rehearse, especially when you are live.

  • Over communicate

To make sure all stakeholders show up with care, we didn’t hesitate to turn up the volume on our communication mics. You’re better off sending one email or reminder too many than lose even one person in the process. If you can, ask the receiving entity to send you a short confirmation of receiving the info, so you can – with 100% – say there was no chance of messages landing in their spam inbox.

  • Be fearless – a little risk never hurt anyone

Many times we asked ourselves: is that possible? Is it too much? What could go wrong? What if it does go wrong?
For example, we weren’t sure if changing our event platform would really result in a better live experience, since we’ve never used it before and didn’t know if the various tech setups for multiple stages coming from an independent studio would work. But, what we did know  is that, from a user perspective, the new platform looked and felt better and much easier to use. The main goal of a digital event, or any event, is that the user experience needs to be nearly flawless. So with the aim to create a sleek and beautiful platform we took a risk to try it out. 

  • Plan B

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, then it’s to have a plan B. Always. If A doesn’t work out, then what can we do instead? In this case the reality was that a speaker might not be able to come to the studios, if they were tested positive, or if the trains run late or if, if, if…so we naturally had a back up plan for missing speakers, late speakers, or scheduling issues. Speaking of scheduling: make sure you add enough puffer in your networking times so that you can catch up on lost time to keep the schedule. Nothing is more annoying than a live event that isn’t on time. 

  • Be constructive and always look ahead

When working in a team, particularly one with lots of creative minds or individuals with various yet different responsibilities, sometimes frictions arise. What would a smooth world look like? Not very habitable. So frictions are good, the question is what you make of them. Be constructive when giving feedback and give your teammates perspectives to look ahead. Take the time to talk it out. Look at various views and give yourself and teammates the safe space to relate those views. You’d be surprised what type of great solutions come about with the right, constructive and positive, conditions!