Office visualisation startup and Pi Labs alumnus Bright Spaces announced its first UK deal in October: digitally visualising Brickfield Business Centre in Northwich.
With the project now live, PlaceTech caught up with Bogdan Nicoara, CEO and co-founder of Bright Spaces, and Oliver Moorhouse, director of Moorland Property Solutions, owner of the business park.
The project, the startup’s first venture outside its native Romania, serves as a marketing tool for tenants looking for space between 1,000 and 16,000 sq ft in Moorland’s building. Bright Spaces gives potential tenants virtual tours in both 2D and 3D and shows three fit-out options at different densities. Users can also request personalised offers for each floor or section and book in-person tours.
What are the next steps for the growth of Bright Spaces?
Bogdan Nicoara: This is an important milestone for us, as our goal is to expand internationally, first at a European level and then globally. We are excited to have worked together with Oliver and his team on this solution, as we share the same vision and passion for innovation.
We are preparing a set of new features to further help landlords lease faster, tenants to get the best possible answer to their needs and brokers to have the tools to become the ultimate consultant when it comes to a real estate transaction. We are very interested in consolidating leasing information, digital twins for leasing and asset management, landlord-broker communication, data analysis and automated reporting – just to name a few features we started developing.
The goal is to become an end-to-end digital leasing and showcasing solution for any commercial space, no matter its size or location.
Why did you decide to work with Bright Spaces on Brickfield Business Centre?
Oliver Moorhouse: I was looking for a solution to show interested parties how the space would look without the internal partition walls, without physically removing them, which is something we can do, should an occupier require us to do so.
I was also looking for a way for occupiers to see the space remotely, without having to physically inspect on site, something which is especially helpful during lockdown.
I happened upon Bright Spaces through LinkedIn, through an article about proptech. It seemed they were well placed to help me produce an interactive digital offer to assist the marketing of Brickfield Business Centre.
Following my initial enquiry, Bogdan contacted me to arrange a Zoom call. During the call, Bogdan explained how Bright Spaces could help us, whilst showing me other work he’d done. I was impressed.
Based on our discussion, Bogdan sent me a proposal and we agreed the terms fairly swiftly. I have been very impressed with their straightforward and helpful approach. Nothing has been too much trouble.
What impact have the pandemic and lockdown had on your approach to how you work and how you integrate tech, such as Bright Spaces? And what lasting impact do you think those changes will have on how you operate in years to come?
OM: We’ve found enquiry numbers are well down for our office space, but the enquiries we do have are the serious ones, so deals are still being done and strong interest is still at a good level. It’s the less serious enquiries which have fallen away.
We are just trying to make viewing our vacant space as safe as possible, and the ultimate in safety is being able to use technology to offer a remote viewing where interested parties can take a virtual tour of the available space, which is something we can now offer at Brickfield Business Centre, thanks to the work of Bright Spaces.
Even once we are all back out there mixing with each other, virtual tours and video calls do save time, and time will once again become a much valued and limited resource.
I think we’re also on the cusp of a huge leap forward in respect of innovation within office environments, in terms of building systems being linked and operable digitally and remotely.
Offices are becoming much more attractive environments generally, as companies focus on attracting the best talent and now try and tempt staff back into the office. Innovation is at the forefront of this evolution.
BN: Especially now, with all the physical distancing measures and travel regulations, we consider 3D visualisation and other pre-leasing solutions to be the optimal answer to tenants’ needs. Even though many real estate players have had to adjust their budgets and rethink their strategies, this is one of the business directions of the future.
Regarding office spaces and the future of work, everything seems to point in the direction of hybrid working spaces, where office spaces are adapted in order to follow healthy regulations, while acting as safe socialising environments. Of course, this means redefining the relationships between landlords and tenants, who come now with a new set of expectations and demands.
But office spaces will continue to exist, tenants will continue to rent and they will prefer to do it via (at least initially) a digital platform.
Outside your current product development, what are some ideas you want to see come to fruition in the future?
BN: Imagine that you will just state your need and a digital environment connected to [all] information out there will not only bring the best possible answer to your request, but it will do that in a virtual way, identical to the real thing. And yes, I am referring to mixed reality: screen – web or app – headset or directly in your mind with the help of a Neuralink implant.
What opportunities did being part of an accelerator give Bright Spaces?
BN: Being one of the five startups selected to join the Pi Labs accelerator in 2020, out of over 600 applications, was a great honour and validation for us.
Our solution looked a lot different when we started the programme than what we have today. Receiving access to great mentors and advisers helped us better define the platform, gain a better understanding of what the industry needs [and] learn how to approach a European market. We participated at workshops on various themes from marketing to pricing. We received personalised, actionable feedback, thus being able to accelerate our growth.
Pi Labs also facilitated our access to potential investors and even if it’s been almost a year since we started the programme, it still supports us in developing our business and in increasing awareness in the market.