The story behind our investment in Office App

Office App recently announced its Series A round of €4.3 million led by Join Capital alongside Signa Innovations; Pi Labs also participated in this round and invested again in the company. Our follow-on investment continues our strong belief in transforming the way people interact with the spaces they spend most of their time.

A bold idea

When we first invested in Office App in mid-2016, the team joined our pre-seed programme with a simple yet bold idea of building an operating system app for every office building out there. We consider this a bold vision not only because it reflects their ambition to be a global company but more so for having that vision while operating in a very under-digitized industry. The mainstream office segment was admittedly at the cusp of its tech evolution but the extent of the industry’s appetite for new tech solutions was fairly unknown at the time.

We took a bet on Thijs van der Burgt, the founder, who had identified a key problem in the way technology was being incorporated in the sector. Property managers, landlords, and corporate tenants were starting to use a myriad of apps and platforms for niche facilities management and community engagement services and were getting a lot of data from IoT devices already installed within buildings. But this use of fragmented solutions was resulting in growing pains for individual office users who were getting confused by numerous interfaces and logins; directly resulting in high friction and low adoption. At the same time, all the data that was collected was not really used in a meaningful way to inform property management decisions.

A transformative experience

He set about to change that by building a platform designed to offer a simple and intuitive user experience while unifying all the disparate and clunky back-end systems that are actually used to run office buildings. Three years on, with minimal external capital but a lot of hard work, Office App has enabled its customers to offer a transformative office experience to their tenants and employees. Everything from building access control, booking meeting rooms, controlling the room temperature to filing maintenance requests and connecting to local retail can be done through one single app.

We connected this shift towards increasing tech adoption with how it could influence decisions on workspace re-design. As most of us have probably witnessed, physical workspaces have been completely redesigned in the past couple of decades with the primary goal of facilitating collaboration. They have evolved from static seating options and closed cabins to more dynamic spaces and open plan offices. In the more recent past, the co-working trend has also changed how people like to work and what environments they like to work in. Most importantly this shift has altered the depth of services property managers need to offer in order to stay competitive. Office App is helping the mainstream office providers and managers stay ahead of the curve by continuously delivering data-driven insights into demand and occupancy of different type of spaces to inform decisions on space re-design and optimal utilization. In the end, this is not just an occupancy analytics solution but an end to end solution for engaging end-occupiers, making office spaces conducive to productivity and running office buildings efficiently.

Backing the team

Ultimately a great product is not sufficient to build a great business, especially in this industry. And this is where Iain Thompson’s (co-founder and CCO) role was pivotal. He brought strong enterprise sales experience and forged credible partnerships with clients. He also almost single-handedly developed enterprise sales processes and feedback loops which led to building an impressive client roster across 10 countries in Europe including Dell, LaSalle, and UBS to name a few.

Since making our first investment a few other entrants have emerged in this space, but we continue to back this excellent team of two founders and team of 16, who have continuously delivered real value to their customers through an outstanding product. We also welcome the new investors who will help take the business to the next stage.

About the Author: Esha is an Investment Manager at Pi Labs.

Prior to joining the team in September 2017, Esha worked on a number of fintech and healthcare impact investments whilst interning during her MBA at Unitus Seed Fund in India including deals in the alternate credit, medtech device and telemedicine sectors. She began her career at BMR Advisors (now Deloitte) in Delhi advising on multi-million dollar cross border transactions in the telecom, energy and financial services sectors. Sha has also done pro-bono work for edtech start-ups based in India and Africa.

Esha has a degree in Business Studies from Delhi University and an MBA from London Business School.