First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Siim Täkker: Fortunately, there have not been any C19 cases in my family, and we do as much as possible to keep the situation the same. Following the rules of the authorities is one-part; personal respect for all other people is another important factor. Naturally, one must give up some of their desires during these times, but nothing dramatic happens if some trips, visits, hangouts, or parties are skipped. If we all push for the greater good, then we can keep the virus under control. Our technology has also a crucial role to play to make sure that buildings are ventilated correctly.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded r8tech.
Siim Täkker: I really like to work on complex engineering projects with talented people. My engineering degree studies and hardworking nature has given me a chance to work on interesting projects in Estonia, Finland, Japan, and some other EU countries. At one point, my entrepreneurial spirit pushed me to build a company to provide a solution for a problem in my field, where I saw a big business opportunity and a potential to solve a global problem. I found a company interested in using the solution in their day to day operations and then putting together a team of my talented friends. After signing a contract with the first customer willing to pay for the solution, we launched a company in 2017.
How does r8tech innovate?
Siim Täkker: R8tech innovations come from our customers’ needs and goals that we have set to achieve, which primarily include simple customer onboarding, high customer satisfaction rate, and efficient day-to-day operations. Understanding the customer’s expectations and getting fast feedback for a solution is a key enabler for successful development.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Siim Täkker: During the first wave of the crisis in April-May, it was tough due to the uncertainty over the future among our clients in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector. Inevitably, we had to change our growth plans, do some layoffs, and focus on increasing our own operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
C19 has been called “the last wake-up call for commercial real estate sector.” Need an understanding of the benefits of digitalization and AI-driven technologies is increasing among different stakeholders in CRE.
Even a bigger problem that already needs our attention is global warming. UN has set a goal to reduce the CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030 that is an ambitious but inevitable target that we must achieve altogether. R8tech is providing one of the solutions that help to achieve this target. The most positive side is the fact how much can be achieved with just taking to use a really smart, easy to use, and quick to deploy software that optimizes energy-intensive processes in CRE!
Due to C19, R8tech is more efficient than before, and this is one reason why we are growing again, incl recruiting new talents to join our team to work for a sustainable future.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Siim Täkker: The strongest lesson for R8tech: we must focus on our core product! All “nice to have” is secondary if you have limited resources. Sure, many difficult choices have been made in April-May (the top of the 1st C-19 wave) includes dismissing team members, postponing or delaying some projects, negotiations with state authorities, etc. And we had to make these decisions basically overnight. Today I am proud to say that these decisions were right and made just in time.
Another important message from (every) crisis: support your clients, especially if there are hard times. Find flexible crisis-solutions for clients, find new win-win solutions. It is important for your long run business.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Siim Täkker: I like to work out, stay healthy, and spend time with my friends and family.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Siim Täkker: Smart building, energy efficiency, indoor climate, sustainability, AI – these fashionable topics in PropTech and RE. Thus, there are very many companies. Sometimes we check other PropTech companies’ websites, and their promises to the customers seem to be very similar to R8tech. The deeper we look, the more we start understanding the differences – from hardware to software, from monitoring and analytics to real AI (having 5 lines of code is not an AI yet 😊). I believe that many of these solutions have a successful role and customer segment.
We just focus on and want to be the best in a scalable and robust artificially intelligent software that runs basically on any existing modern automation system and has a minimal need for an additional user interface. We know that some companies have already tried and still try to copy us…unsuccessfully. The complexity is very high; thus, it is everything else than easy. It will be even harder all the time as we are continuously developing, and many other great things are coming out from our sleeves in the near future.
Your final thoughts?
Siim Täkker: One good crisis cannot be left untapped!