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Transforming Real Estate Tech: Insights from Bogdan Nicoara

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Bianca Iulia Simion

· 4 min read
Transforming Real Estate Tech: Insights from Bogdan Nicoara
Bogdan Nicoara, the CEO & Co-founder of Bright Spaces

Bogdan Nicoară, the CEO and Co-Founder of Bright Spaces spearheads a revolutionary venture at the intersection of real estate and technology. Armed with 15 years of experience in the tech industry, Nicoară established Bright Spaces with the vision of creating an interactive digital twin Universe for the entire Built World. The company, founded in 2019 as a Romanian start-up, has rapidly evolved to offer cutting-edge solutions that automate, optimize, and digitalize marketing, leasing, and selling for office spaces. Bright Spaces operates globally in the UK, Finland, Hungary, Poland, and Romania, and boasts an award-winning platform.

Through its 3D Digital Twins and Custom 3D Space Planning, Bright Spaces simplifies commercial spaces' virtual exploration and leasing worldwide, providing a seamless end-to-end leasing process. Now, let's delve into the insights of this dynamic entrepreneur and the groundbreaking work at Bright Spaces.

What experiences or insights led you to envision and co-found Bright Spaces?

The journey that led to the envisioning and co-founding of Bright Spaces is deeply rooted in my 15 years of tech experience and an entrepreneurial spirit that was kindled back in high school. Over the years, I have engaged in over 20 projects, each contributing to my resilience and strategic thinking. A pivotal moment in my professional journey was the co-founding of 4ideas in 2008, which later evolved into Bright Agency (an agency dedicated to digital experiences) and Symbolic (a software development company).

In April 2019, the trajectory took an exciting turn when Andrei, my co-founder, and I, along with three colleagues from Bright Agency, embarked on the first-ever PropTech hackathon in Southeastern Europe. Our mission was to optimize short-term leases for retail spaces in malls and retail parks. We won both the challenge and the main event. This pivotal moment propelled us to transition from our previous venture and launch Bright Spaces.

In November 2019, we were invited to Skanska's CEE Proptech Hackathon, where the task was to revolutionize office leasing with a fresh tech approach, combining flexibility and long-term vision. We achieved another victory, and Skanska Romania became our first paying client.

The experiences gained, coupled with a proven track record of innovation and success, continue to fuel our commitment to transforming the real estate tech landscape.

Describe Bright Spaces to someone unfamiliar with real estate tech.

Bright Spaces is a tech startup transforming how office spaces are planned and visualized.

Traditionally, space planning has been confined to 2D, black-and-white, static representations, making it challenging for stakeholders to visualize and understand the potential of office layouts. Bright Spaces disrupts this conventional approach by offering a 3D interactive space plan tailored to actual requirements. This innovation is particularly significant as the industry experiences a shift towards hybrid work models, necessitating a more inclusive decision-making process involving diverse stakeholders, from Millennials and Gen Zs to seasoned C-level executives, procurement professionals, and real estate experts.

In your words, what's the 'magic' that Real Estate developers enjoy in Bright Spaces, and is there a surprising aspect they find delightful?

In essence, the 'magic' for Real Estate developers using Bright Spaces lies in the seamless blend of digital innovation and tangible benefits. Bright Spaces empowers developers to digitally showcase their portfolios, positioning them as early adopters and tech innovators in a competitive market. The surprising delight for our clients comes in the form of tangible results – a 30% reduction in the time spent from initial contact to lease signing and a minimum of 25% cut in marketing expenses. This not only demonstrates a rapid ROI but also provides developers with a distinct edge, making the adoption of Bright Spaces a game-changer in the industry.

Looking forward, what milestones and challenges do you see for Bright Spaces as it continues to evolve?

Our primary focus remains on delivering substantial ROI to our partners, a commitment that drives our ongoing efforts. We are positioned to explore future integrations and expand into new markets and verticals, all while maximizing the potential of our existing product offerings.

Anticipating the future landscape, we foresee an eventual surge in real estate companies adopting technology on a larger scale, with tangible results visible in areas such as ESG initiatives, cost optimization, revenue increase, etc. In 2024, we might not witness an explosive surge in widespread proptech adoption, but the year is projected to sustain the ongoing trend that has been steadily gathering momentum in recent times.

Our strategic approach is geared towards facilitating this transition, as we work towards encouraging more segments of the market to test tech at scale. By measuring the ROI effectively and showcasing the value proposition, we aim to pave the way for broader portfolio-wide adoption.

What kind of support or partnerships is Bright Spaces seeking from investors?

Bright Spaces is actively seeking support and partnerships from investors who can provide valuable insights into both the real estate market and the enterprise ecosystem. We believe that aligning with investors who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in these domains will be instrumental in our growth and success. By fostering collaborative relationships with investors, we aim to capitalize on their expertise to navigate the complexities of the real estate industry and leverage their insights to further enhance our position in the business world.

How has Bright Spaces navigated fundraising challenges, and are there plans for an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to retain top talent?

Yes, we implemented ESOP for our team and advisors. Regarding fundraising, in these challenging economic times, we managed to raise more than EUR 3.5M on three rounds of funding: a pre-seed round in 2019 - EUR 185.000, a seed round in 2021 - EUR 1.5M, and a bridge CLA in 2023/2024 - EUR 2M.

Are there key collaborations or partnerships that have played a crucial role in Bright Spaces' success?

Key collaborations and partnerships have been instrumental in Bright Spaces' success, with the unwavering support from our investors serving as a cornerstone.

Just to give an example, joining the 8th cohort of the Pi Labs Growth Programme in 2020 marked a pivotal moment for us. The program affirmed the belief of an important VC in our potential and opened doors to international real estate markets. It provided a platform for us to engage with over 50 mentors, gaining invaluable insights and feedback that significantly contributed to refining and enhancing our solution. Recently, Bright Spaces was prominently featured in Volume 2 of Pi Labs' groundbreaking research paper, "Technology Deployment in the Built World." This research, exploring real estate technology deployment, presented detailed case studies, including one on Bright Spaces.

The continuous support from our investors has been priceless, and their belief in our vision has propelled us forward. Some of the companies that believe in us are Clearance Capital, Axeleo Proptech, Growceanu Angel Investment, Hellen’s Rock, Element Industrial, Fortech Investments, and Sparking Capital. And a few of the 30+ angel investors that support us are Marius Istrate (TechAngels, ex-UiPath), Mihnea Andrei Craciun (Endeavor, ING, Ziarul Financiar), Adrian Erimescu (Growceanu, Imobiliare.ro), Alexandru Boghiu (Mavers, CBRE), Ilinca Păun (Bravva, Entrepreneurship Academy, Meta Estate Trust, Colliers), Viorel Opaiț (iO Partners, JLL, Colliers), Silviana Petre (JLL, Badsi, Colliers), Heptonstall Andrew Barrie (Angel Investor, PiLabs, Enterprise 100 Ltd), Shibu Nambiar (Genpact, GE Capital), Sebastian Mîndroiu & Radu Calin: (PickTwo Architectural Studio).

How has the international market responded to your platform, and what challenges did you face during this expansion?

The international market has responded exceptionally well to our platform, with many expressing that they've never encountered a tool like it before. Typically, the approach involves a request for a pilot to thoroughly evaluate the platform's capabilities. While some see the pilot as a crucial step in validating and optimizing the solution, true innovators in the real estate sector often opt for a portfolio-wide implementation right from the start. Notably, our solution has been adopted in five countries, showcasing its adaptability and effectiveness. Interestingly, we have observed that pilot requests sometimes come from major real estate funds with vast assets under management, totaling billions of euros. These entities, despite their size, prefer a phased approach, opting for a partial portfolio implementation to rigorously test and enhance the platform's seamless functionality.

Can you share a success story where Bright Spaces significantly impacted a client's marketing, leasing, or selling processes?

One United Properties was the first Romanian company to have its entire office portfolio digitized. With the help of our solution, One United Properties shortened their negotiation time by 50%, as the tenants were able to browse all the available spaces online and make a leasing decision faster.

Skanska Romania was the first Romanian commercial company to have its buildings showcased in 3D. Their 3D Digital Twins had more than 10,000 online visits in the first year of launching.

Avison Young Romania was our first client to adopt our Custom 3D Space Planning solution. In just a year, more than 20 custom spaces have been created for Avison Young, for over 10.000 sqm. 86% of Avison Young Romania’s clients mentioned that 3D plans and virtual tours helped them better understand their future office.

All the case studies can be accessed here.

What emerging trends do you anticipate in the real estate tech industry, and how is Bright Spaces positioned to capitalize on these trends?

In the evolving landscape of real estate tech, we anticipate a surge in interconnected services and products, fostering collaboration between startups, big tech players, and legacy systems. The growing reliability of AI is set to drive its widespread adoption across various facets, such as knowledge hubs, design, and data predictions, establishing it as a trusted source of truth. Furthermore, agents will play a pivotal role in introducing real optimizations and automation to diverse tasks.

Bright Spaces is strategically positioned to capitalize on these trends in 2024. With a focus on profitable growth, we are enhancing our product range by incorporating AI-automated onboarding features, fostering integrations with other market solutions, and deploying portfolio-wide implementations of our solutions.

Why should investors join this round, from your perspective?

Investors should consider joining this round because Bright Spaces represents a substantial opportunity with significant future success anticipated. The numbers tell a compelling story – in 2023, we demonstrated a notable 2x Year-over-Year growth and an outstanding 737% growth rate over the past three years. We present a unique investment proposition as an established company on an accelerated growth path. Notably, we service the largest asset class globally, with a TAM in the tens of billions, positioning us to capture significant opportunities in the years ahead.

Explore the opportunity on SeedBlink.

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