Lithuanian capital becomes ‘playground’ for property innovators
Property management software Serfy and real estate crowdfunding platform Profitus are among the first startups to complete trials using the Vilnius-based Realbox PropTech sandbox – a citywide pilot for fine tuning inventions.
Launched by PropTech Baltic in 2018, Realbox provides early-stage companies with 25m sq ft of commercial, residential and mixed-use property to test their concepts, improve their technologies and showcase them in front of international companies.
A property sandbox is a research and development environment designed for startups, where they use buildings and real-life property data to test and perfect their products. PropTech Baltic said the decision to launch RealBox in the Lithuanian capital was “strategic” as the city has emerged as a thriving hub for tech in the past few years. Vilnius is particularly known for its fintech community, which consists of 170 startups.
Justina Juršytė, RealBox project lead and co-founder of PropTech Baltic, said: “Vilnius has ideal conditions for tech startups. But with the sandbox, we are actually taking an additional step in facilitating support and physical space for any PropTech company to test their ideas, their technology, and even showcase their products in front of potential clients from all over the world.”
Despite only launching a year ago, RealBox is already producing results for its cohort. One of its early successes is Serfy, which has used the sandbox for its property maintenance and repairs platform.
By utilising office buildings owned or rented by large corporations such as Western Union or Danske Bank, the firm has been able to showcase its software and gain feedback in the process.
Working with 400 companies across the Baltics and Poland, Serfy raised €550,000 of seed investment last year to launch a scale-up campaign.
Povilas Dudonis, founder and CEO of Serfy, said: “As great as our solution was, it was hard to show it live in action in front of big, international prospects, because we hadn’t penetrated those larger companies yet. Realbox gives us the opportunity to give relevant demonstrations to big clients.”
Real estate crowdfunding company Profitus used the sandbox to support its growth plans. Since raising €300,000 of seed capital, the firm has funded eight real-estate projects totalling €2m and is one of Lithuania’s leading lending platforms.
Profitus leveraged the network provided by the sandbox and PropTech Baltic community. As a result, it expanded its network of investors, mentors and customers and grew brand reputation in a short space of time.
Viktorija Vanage, founder of Profitus, said: “In a little time, we participated in a number of local and international events, expanded our networks of investors, mentors and customers.
“The most important thing was that by getting involved with Realbox and the PropTech and Fintech community, we were able to quickly gain trust and reputation, which are very important and normally take a lot of time.
“After only five months we are in a position of luxury where we can already focus on expanding to other countries.”
Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, added: “The creation of the Realbox sandbox in Vilnius is not a coincidence. We have worked hard to turn the city into a place where startups want to move to and thrive.
“Finance and real estate are the next frontiers for technology to disrupt, and we want Vilnius to play a central role. The municipality is committed, and we have made our buildings available to Realbox.
“Our ambition is to turn the entire city into a business sandbox for startups to come and attempt to find the solutions that will make tomorrow’s world better.”