This year, PriceHubble celebrates its fifth anniversary. But how did the foundation of PriceHubble come about? Who founded it and why? We are taking a journey back in time to mark five years of PriceHubble.
The initial spark
It is the year 2016. Stefan Heitmann and Markus Stadler are meeting in Wollerau for a Sunday brunch. And they have a plan: they want to develop a new business idea. Stefan Heitmann, a law and economics graduate, had already founded MoneyPark four years earlier, Switzerland’s leading independent mortgage advising service. Markus Stadler, a graduate of engineering mathematics, was working at a management consultancy in Switzerland during that time. Stefan, who already knows the real estate sector well from his experiences as the founder and CEO of MoneyPark, has a business idea in mind for the new start-up in the same industry.
A glance at the future
Stefan has noticed that the real estate sector is still relying on backward-looking methods and historical data. There is little transparency for buyers, owners and sellers. The entire world of real estate is relatively conservative as a whole. Of course, that is partly due to the product with which it deals: houses or flats are built from bricks; they are built to last. That feature inherently anchors them in the past. The sales process, in particular, uses comparisons with historical data: What has been built, what has been sold? What flat sizes have been in demand? Stefan and Markus set out to turn that approach upside down. They want to shift the industry’s focus to the present and future.
«I cannot accept that we are still navigating the real estate market in 2016 through the rear-view mirror and with the windscreen covered. I want to make the windscreen transparent.» With this statement, Stefan Heitmann presented the basis for the new business idea: improving transparency for all players in the real estate sector with digital, data-driven products that facilitate better decisions and boost sales.
Vision: anticipating market developments
During their discussion, Stefan and Markus arrive at the following questions: Could a sufficiently large database help us predict developments in the property market? Could comprehensible, user-friendly software solutions help people access the relevant data?
Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, they aim to turn a deluge of data from the real estate industry and surrounding sectors into analyses and market forecasts. Stefan Heitmann, who is fascinated with machine learning and big-data models, explains: «Just a few years ago, it would have been impossible to process the vast data operations that a cloud can handle. Today, we can move more data than ever before.»
Their top priority is to address their business partners’ pain points directly rather than producing aimlessly. From the start, the two founders maintain close dialogues with partners from the finance and real estate industries.
Their common goal is clear. They recruit data scientists and software developers. Their task: to develop secure, well-maintained and cutting-edge digital solutions for the real estate market. Stefan and Markus know that they will not accept any compromise when it comes to quality. Of course, they also need data engineers who produce, monitor and test the backbone of PriceHubble: the data, gathered from hundreds of sources. Again, quality comes first when it comes to the quality of the data streams. Stefan and Markus start off with a small team: one astrophysicist, one machine-learning expert and one part-time data analyst. The small group builds the foundation for the self-learning system, which collects vast volumes of information, analyses it and processes it to generate a precise forecast.
Transparency for everyone
The two founders know that they want to provide software solutions for all players in the real estate market. Their original goal is always on their minds: to introduce transparency to the market using easily comprehensible, rapidly available data. PriceHubble solutions are intended to have a lasting, positive effect on the clients’ sales KPI. Ultimately, the new business aims to enable its clients to offer their own customers vastly improved consultations.
PriceHubble-solutions seek to generate precise, data-driven insights, such as property valuations, market analyses, value forecasts and building simulations, in a visually attractive format. Their Automated Valuation Model (AVM) goes far beyond the usual location factors, providing much more than just the current and predicted sales or rental value of a property. The intelligent model also takes market dynamics and additional location criteria into account, such as noise, accessibility, sun exposure, views, planned new builds in the area and socio-economic developments in the neighbourhood.
Founding story = success story
Today, PriceHubble employs more than 100 people. The young start-up from Zurich is already active in six countries: Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Japan and the Netherlands, where operations began this past January. Since the foundation of their business, Stefan and Markus have known that they want a scalable business model that could easily be adapted to new markets. And their story is far from over. Anyone who knows them also knows that they are taking aim at additional countries already.