14 August 2019
Company: En-trak Hong Kong Limited
Interviewee: CEO and founder- Dr. Vincent Chow
Interviewer: 36Kr- firstname.lastname@example.org
Solution: Tenant Experience Platform
This interview was originally conducted in Chinese and posted on 36Kr portal.
Click here to view the original version in Chinese.
Q1. What developments have En-trak made in the past year?
In August 2018, we closed our seed round with Alibaba and China Light & Power (CLP). In March 2019, the company launched our latest En-trak Tenant Experience Platform (TEP).
With TEP, every occupant within an office building can control and personalize their work station temperature and lighting using their smartphone. The aim is to improve the comfort and satisfaction of the occupants and to create a more productive work environment, and at the same time, help to reduce and minimize over-cooling or over-heating and thus operating cost.
This hardware-agnostic solution is applicable to almost any type of central air conditioning system. So far, the program has gained good tractions with several top-tier property developers in Hong Kong, Singapore and China. We have also expanded our business to S.E. Asia markets including Thailand and Malaysia in May 2019.
Q2. What are some of the latest developments for 2019 in terms of technology, products, commercialization, financing, and team?
First of all, we are currently in talks with several strategic investors in Asia who are keen in our sector. We are looking for funding to expedite our business expansion in Mainland China and Southeast Asia.
In terms of product roadmap, in 2019 we will be launching several new modules to help building owners and managers improve their operational efficiency and service level. We want to create a seamless experience for their tenants.
We have also signed strategic agreements with three Asian developers to develop and customize some of our software functions to suit their operational needs. At the same time, we are investing a lot of our effort into perfecting our machine learning algorithms with the aim of making the system smarter and to automatically regulate the work environment according to the individual preferences and prevailing weather conditions.
Q3. What are the three things in 2018 that had the greatest impact on your industry?
First is the influx of investment into property technology (otherwise known as proptech). In 2018, global investment in proptech amounts to some US$20Bn – an increase of 38% compared with the previous year. Of this, 60% is actually invested in Asia.
We are seeing increased interests from established industry players in this space too. For example, Jones Lang LaSalle has recently established a RMB100M real estate technology fund, while Swire Properties has also established a New Venture team to identify and evaluate potential applications of different real estate technologies into their portfolios.
Secondly, we have noticed that major real estate companies have made significant progress in terms of their knowledge and acceptance of new technologies.
Previously, when we speak to customers about IoT and its application, many of them were unclear and hesitant. Nowadays, most of our customers know or have heard of IoT technology and solutions, and some can expertly evaluate the advantages and limitations of different solutions and how well it can resolve their pain points.
Thirdly, we are seeing significant increase in interest and investment from international VCs in Asia and especially in China. According to 2018 data, the amount of investment in China proptech start-ups increased by 4% over the previous year, reaching RMB 251.7 billion, a record high.
Q4. What are the major events in 2019 that the industry will be concerned about?
I think the most significant event is the China-US trade tension. This affects the overall business and investment sentiments. And this will also affect our customers’ appetite in investing in technology and IoT solutions.
However, in our case, when the demand for commercial building weakens, some forward-looking owners will be even more motivated to enhance the attractiveness of their assets to attract and retain quality tenants and deploy technologies to improve operational efficiency and reduce operating costs.
Q5. What do you think are the major events and trends in 2019 that will affect the industry?
There is no doubt that the focus on environment protection and sustainable development is here to stay. With millennium workers making the largest group of labour force, companies are beginning to see their office as a strategic asset to recruit and retain talents. I therefore believe that in the next few years, more and more real estate companies will introduce property technologies into their portfolio to meet the needs and demands of their customers to enhance their experience.
We are already seeing a growing number of institutions organizing various proptech-related incubation and accelerator programs. For example, Jones Lang LaSalle, together with Swire Properties and China Ping An has recently launched UrbanLab, while Asia Green Energy in Singapore launched Powerace to work with promising start-ups. This trend will intensify in the coming two years, as more competitors enter this space.
Q6. With the increased competition, what are En-trak’s competitive advantages?
En-trak has been in this industry since 2013 before the phase Proptech became popular. During this period, we have accumulated a wealth of experience and laid a strong foundation within our customers and our team. Our people have developed a deep understanding of our customer needs and their purchasing habits.
Property developers are naturally risk-averse people, and they prefer to work with vendors with proven track record. Our solutions have been used and proven by over 400 world-class clients in Asia, and with both Alibaba and CLP as our strategic investors; this certainly gives our customers an added confidence in our solution.
Q7. What are your plans for 2019?
B2B business has a slow and long sales cycle. This is even more obvious in the real estate industry where it will require significant time and efforts to convince developers and earn their trust before they will engage your solution and/or services.
In Asia, we have identified some 150 Tier-1 developers across Asia. Together they control 75% of Grade-A office space. To ensure we can make our mark in this industry, we need to ensure we can serve them well from start to finish, from the initial engagement to the final execution. We must always deliver values and aim to exceed customer’s requirements and expectations. We will and must continue to do this.
36Kr is one of China’s most influential internet new business media portals. Founded in July 2011, it has grown into a comprehensive service provider aimed at serving innovative tech companies while being the largest and strongest ecosystem-based platform that boasts comprehensive coverage over a myriad of sectors with a game-changing vision.
En-trak Hong Kong Limited is an award-winning proptech company backed by Alibaba and CLP. Founded in 2013, our solutions are used and trusted by hundreds of world-class clients> in Asia including Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Keppel Land, Sino Group, English Schools Foundation, Hong Kong Convention Centre and more.
Our mission is to make buildings more comfortable, sustainable and efficient. Our flagship solution En-trak™ Tenant Experience Platform (TEP) helps building owners enhance the value of their assets and improve NOI by enabling building occupants to control and personalize their workplace A/C and lightings, thus eliminating energy wastage and elevating tenants’ comfort and satisfaction.