Prominent areas and startups from our proptech map for the post-COVID period

While defining the COVID pandemic, I’ve been saying that it’s a 2X catalyst, on one hand, technologies that have long been considered as “luxury”, “early” or even “unnecessary” are now accepted to be widespread and even compulsory, and on the other hand, the adaptation of the technologies that will take 3–5 years to become mainstream has accelerated. Not only does each crisis contain risks and losses it also offers great opportunities.

More than 50% of Fortune 500 companies were created during times of crisis. More than 70% of the difference between winners and losers occurs during times of crisis. Bain & Company

I know that the proptech entrepreneurs and their employees feel good these days -saying this by excluding all kinds of financial problems- because the topics/vision they have believed in and been telling for a long time is now seen by masses. (not sure it’s fully understood either) :) Afterall we have come to the end of the real estate as we know.

I was recently asked which areas/companies -from the TR Proptech Map- will come to the fore especially in the post-COVID period the short to medium term. Here is the first version. It caught my attention while writing, no matter which section I write, I start with these sentences “…. it had already undergone a major change for a while ”or“… a crisis had started long before the outbreak ”. Another bad news for those who still claim and/or hope that the real estate has not changed :)

Please note that the categories I have listed below and the players there will be more prominent only in the next period as per the conjuncture. Otherwise, all the categories and companies on the proptech map are in a much better position in the long run than they did before January.

Cloud Supermarkets

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Cloud supermarkets that are built on four pillars of Mobile, Data, Delivery and Real Estate (and where real estate is the least important among these four elements !!) were one of the fast-rising areas of proptech even before the epidemic. The lockdown has created the ultimate market condition for them to grow. While changes in consumer behaviors and habits are a slow and long process, the pandemic has accelerated this period. Now everyone knows that if you order all essential (and more) goods via an app, those will be delivered in 10 minutes. Some of these players that have different business models are already expanding into other markets.

Cloud Retail Platforms

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The retail industry, which was already in a great change before the pandemic -I am using the definition of retail here as non-food- has hit the wall with the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional retailers, who have seen e-commerce as a competitor for a long time, later switched to the understanding that I would open an e-commerce site. For retailers who have been difficulty in responding to rapid changes in business models, customer demands, technology, and consumer behavior, their return will be risky and highly costly.

Retailers need to understand that it’s not only brick and mortar or e-commerce. The perfect expression is “It’s e-Commerce, not E-commerce”. When COVID-19 panic goes away, retailers that complete online/offline conversion, be manage all channels including stores/3rd party marketplaces/e-commerce/ rental/ subscription, to empower sales associates with clienteling and mobile payments, to support complicated omnichannel scenarios, to streamline all orders and fulfill from anywhere,... are the ones that will compete and survive in the long run.

Healthy Buildings

Increased awareness and awakening of global warming have also reached most of the stakeholders of the real estate industry in recent years. Especially after the Paris agreement and the 2008 global crisis, many national and international independent institutions and protocols have been developed to bring standards and certification to buildings that are responsible for 40% of carbon emissions. While green buildings movement will continue to accelerate after the pandemic, and we shall witness another key trend fueled by a strong demand particularly from the tenants; “Healthy / Happy Buildings”. There are independent international organizations that already have developed standards specifically for this domain.

Sensgreen, is a company that makes buildings healthier and more efficient with its artificial intelligence and smart sensors. I believe it’s their market in post-COVID years together with its peers globally, as they already have applications that score the air quality of the buildings, the proportion of clean air circulated or channels to inform the users (visitors and employees). This is an exciting area with a lot of room for innovation.

Commercial Building Operator

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As we have discussed multiple times on EurAsia Proptech Initiative’s meet-ups, another area that has been sending signals -along with the retail- for a long time is the office market. It was said multiple times that there is a new player at the table; operators. Institutions that perform the functions of positioning, branding, renting and operating of the entire building, similar to the hotel sector. Istanbul-based Assembly Buildings was one of the early movers in this segment. As market dynamics will force more building owners to work with the operators, they will bring new products and services that companies will demand.

On-demand Warehouse

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Supply and demand optimization through short term warehousing which was once defined as the “logistics of Airbnb” was noteworthy in recent years. There are a handful of companies working in this area globally trying to own certain geography. After a long slow growth period, they finally started to gain momentum as they add e-commerce fulfillment services to their offerings. ParkPalet is the first on-demand B2B warehouse marketplace out of Istanbul. I expect all players in this area will likely have more business going forward as supply & demand will continue to deteriorate.

Access Control

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Data security — especially identity management and access control — has become a crucial issue, as remote work becomes a norm even in traditional companies, and buildings are quickly implementing smart access systems.
SaasPass is a cloud-based 2-factor verification service that allows you to make all your accesses, both digital and physical, safe and easy with your mobile phone or other devices with a single product. Those who do not come from the technology will ask what that means in English. It allows you to log in securely using your mobile phone (or other equivalent devices), whether you are using your computer and accessing your files by accessing your own computer and applications such as Gmail, Instagram etc., or while opening and closing the doors in your office building. We can easily say that the cards we read by passing through turnstiles in buildings have disappeared rapidly, and technologies that can be used in every environment without being touched by hand are easily transitioned.

Smart Vending Machines

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Vending machines are part of our daily lives and routines for a very long time. Since they’re invented back in the late 1800s we exchange money with beverages, wafers, chips, cigarettes, condoms, etc. Combining the Internet of Things, mobile technologies and data processing entrepreneurs recently created a new space.

Servo Kiosk, which was featured on both versions on our proptech map places vending machines at buildings with food and drinks that can be accessed and paid through mobile phones. The platform provides instant feedback to company HR departments, building operators and the suppliers by measuring the data collected during use. They may change the supplier based on people’s preferences every other month. There are similar startups in Asia and in North America too. When offices resume working, more companies will consider such solutions due to the need for employees to access safe food without leaving the office.


Mete Varas

Founder / EurAsia Proptech Initiative