Buying a new home can be quite stressful. Having to make one of the major life decisions whilst dealing with real estate agents, property developers and administrative issues can be a real challenge. While working in the real estate industry as a property developer, Yannick Bontinckx, Ziggu’s CEO, noticed how unnecessary complex this process is for both homebuyers and real estate professionals and decided to tackle it.
Ziggu is the first company that bridges the gap between homebuyers and real estate professionals by offering property developers digital tools to manage the complexity of tracking and updating homebuyers during construction, but above all to better inform and engage those homebuyers at the same time. Officially established in March 2017, the startup is hosted by EBN Member Technoport SA, and is the winner of the Growth category at the EBN Congress pitching competition.
Their story - how it all started
Yannick Bontinckx, Ziggu’s CEO and one of its co-founders, has always had a passion for real estate and computer programming – “Bricks and bytes have always been my passion”, he says. His passion and family background led him to study architecture while parallelly improving his programming skills and participating in hackathons and bootcamps.
During his studies, Yannick participated in coding competitions, where he met Vincent Van Impe, Pieter Gistelinck and David De Winter. The four friends joined their expertise in coding and architecture to establish Ziggu.
“Bricks and bytes have always been my passion”, Yannick Bontinckx, Ziggu’s CEO
Yannick, working as a property developer upon graduation, noticed how many aspects of the real estate industry were outdated and not comparable with technological developments in other industries. Not only his work as a property developer was inefficient due to the lack of digital tools to manage the workload more efficiently, but also the growing distrust in the industry made customer service difficult.
Working with Vincent, Pieter and David, Yannick started digging deeply into the core of the rather negative reputation the real estate industry was faced with by interviewing hundreds of homebuyers. They went door-to-door interviewing 400 homebuyers in Belgium. They discovered there is a high level of distrust towards the real estate industry, mainly due to the shortage of information in the process. In fact, in 2016, 42% of the Belgians expressed little or no confidence in the sector,  which was in line with Ziggu’s findings. Ziggu’s team presented these results to property developers who were eager to find out what homebuyers think about their business and how they can better serve their customers by using Ziggu’s insight into the customer market and the right tools needed for the job.
Homebuyers can voice their questions and preferences while getting promptly informed about their home’s construction and all the legal and administrative issues required. At the same time, Ziggu helps real estate professionals manage their work and varied customers ‘expectations more efficiently by providing advanced project management tools.
“In a way we are Uber Eats/Deliveroo for the real estate industry. Before, when ordering your food, you were just waiting, not knowing when it would arrive, and the process was not digitised at all. The same was, and still is, with homes – “ordering your home” you often have a feeling of being left in the dark, not knowing what’s happening during construction and no way to track all information on an online environment.”, said Yannick Bontinckx.
a customer management and engagement platform, will be commercially released this summer with users, mainly property developers, already beta-testing the platform and waiting on its release.
Ziggu’s challenging beginning
The four-member team has been working on Ziggu for a year now, solely depending on their savings and grants received via Lux Innovation’s programme Fit 4 Start, which supports innovative startups by offering 16-week startup programme of coaching and weekly follow-up by lean startup experts including business grants.
“Our skin is in the game, we spent a lot of sleepless nights to work on Ziggu as we invested even our own money to make it work”, Yannick said.
First traction with Lux Innovation and Technoport SA
Fortunately, after being accepted to Lux Innovation’s programme Fit 4 Start in Summer 2016 hosted at EBN Member Technoport SA’s premises, Ziggu attracted significant attention, with a lot of potential customers beta-testing their platform, and waiting on its release. Shortly after, the team got accepted in a similar programme in Australia, which was the key step into exploring international markets leading to opening a sales office in Australia.
Thanks to the positive experience with Technoport SA, Ziggu decided to base their business there. Since March 2017, the startup has been hosted by the EU|BIC, which has provided them excellent conditions to finalise Ziggu’s products as well as the opportunity to attend workshops on pitching and financing options for free.
“We felt welcome in Technoport, they opened its international network to us and the great innovation ecosystem in Luxembourg.”
The “Growth” startup winner – EBN Congress 2018
Hard work pays off – Ziggu has only been officially established for a bit over than a year and it is already on the right path. In front of EBN Congress audience, Ziggu pitched their innovative solutions, winning the award for the best pitch in “Growth category”. This was one of the three (space, growth, industry) tracks of this year’s EBN Congress hosted and co-organised by EBN and Technoport SA in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg (06-08 June).
Yannick Bontinckx, Ziggu’s CEO and co-founder, receiving the award at EBN Congress with Diego Debiasio, EBN Member Technoport SA's CEO, Vincent Van Impe, Ziggu’s CPO and co-founder, and Javier Echarri, EBN’s CEO
Ziggu about EBN Congress
“EBN Congress was a great experience, I think our rapid growth and development of 2 products in parallel in such a short time is the reason for winning in Growth category among many other great startups”.
Congratulations to Ziggu - we wish them rapid growth in line with the EBN Congress award!
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