The Prague-based property technology company Spaceti took top honours this year at MIPIM, the world’s biggest real estate industry fair, held in the glitzy French resort town of Cannes. Co-founder Aakash Ravi spoke to Radio Prague about the start-up’s evolution from focusing on safety to its pioneering work making “smart buildings” even smarter.
The annual MIPIM fair gathers hundreds of top players from all sectors of the industry. So for Spaceti to be named Start-up of the Year – for its integrated suite of data analytics, smart sensors, and mobile user interfaces for “smart buildings” – is a very big deal in the property tech world.
Founded in June 2016 by former members of an IBM innovation team, Spaceti initially was working on a system that through sensors linked to a mobile app would alert building occupants to emergency situations and guide them quickly to safety.
For that concept, the company took second place in Vodafone’s Idea of the Year competition. Spaceti later tweaked the concept to focus on how people digitally interact with all aspects of a building, says co-founder Aakash Ravi.
“We realised that there was a big gap in the market, especially in the space of smart buildings and digital buildings, and how to gather data from buildings; how to use those data effectively and make practical improvements to buildings with those data.”
“And so we shifted to the overall ‘smart building’ space, using the same core technology that we built – sensors that were used to detect gun shots, fires or whatever and now being used to collect data about temperature, humidity and Co2 levels in a building, occupancy levels in buildings… And that’s what we won the competition in Cannes with.”
The company’s goal is to increase workplace efficiency and well-being. This means eliminating small daily “pain points’’ – such as unnecessary time spent finding a free parking space every morning – to combatting “sick building syndrome”, a condition attributed to poor heating, A/C and ventilation.
Spaceti’s sensors and apps integrate with facility management systems to collect data about building conditions and how space is being used at any given moment. Investment into property technology has tripled annually over the past few years, says Aakash Ravi, who studied at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University in Prague.
In part, he says, Spaceti has been able to compete in thanks to being based in the Czech capital.
“Obviously, in any hot field, there’s going to be a lot of companies trying to do what you’re doing. I’d say one of our core competitive advantages is being based here in Prague, in the Czech Republic, where we have a strong workforce of talented engineers who are multilingual, have a very strong basis in mathematics and computer science and a variety of other hard sciences for a very reasonable price compared to other countries in Europe – not to mention San Francisco and New York.”
“That’s really given us the advantage having a revolutionary technology combining sensors, which we manufacture ourselves here in the Czech Republic, a data analytics platform, and also mobile applications and users in buildings. Having that combination really sets us apart. And we couldn’t have done all that if we were not based here in Prague, actually.”