The European market for facility management amounts to € 220 billion and employs around 4.5% of Europe’s workforce. In the DACH-region alone, over 50,000 companies offer facility management and maintenance service. It is a market that tba network member Florian Kasslatter knows very well, as his family business Markas is a large player in this field. He recently participated in the pre-seed funding round of wowflow – reason enough to speak to the two founders, Drazen Ivanis and Misha Voronko, to learn more about their product, their relationship with investors and plans for the future.
tba network: Please explain wowflow in one sentence.
Misha: We are a mobile and easy-to-use maintenance management software that helps maintenance departments to be more productive and data-driven.
How did you come up with this idea?
Drazen: All the tools that I was using in my previous job as a technical director and head of maintenance for Donauzentrum and Shopping City Süd, two of the biggest shopping malls in Austria, were complex, bulky, and not user-friendly. When I was walking through the buildings that I was managing, I would notice that maintenance personnel had no problem communicating over WhatsApp or similar tools. That’s how the idea was born: if I can offer a simple tool, that people like to use, I get the data that I want to have.
How did you meet your co-founder?
Drazen: Misha met me!
Misha: I reached out to Drazen as I was doing some market research for a university project. And he simply impressed me. Drazen is extremely focused on solving clients’ pain points, which is his core strength. While I was working for Apex Ventures, a Vienna-based VC firm, we stayed in touch – 1.5 years later, I felt ready to become an entrepreneur myself. Drazen needed some support on the operational and finance side and so I joined wowflow.
Drazen: I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I thought I could just build my own company without any external help. I never thought of myself as a “startupper” and certainly never understood the “hype” around it. I just wanted to build the product and focus on my clients. But obviously having Misha on board accelerated wowflow significantly, as he brought in a different set of skills.
Let’s talk about the fundraising process. How did you approach your first investors?
Misha: in a first step, I started to reach out to friends and colleagues from my time at Apex Ventures to collect their feedback and to refine our pitch. Then, I approached friends of friends and asked for introductions to potential investors. In total, we connected with about 120 investors, including all the events that we participated in. Through this process, we identified the most suitable investors and ended up with a strong group of diverse business angels. We realized that if you want to find good investors, you need to keep your eyes open and never burn any bridges. In fact, two of our present investors were introduced to us through other investors who rejected the investment opportunity.
Florian Kasslatter from tba network is one of your investors.
Misha: Yes, Florian clicked with us right away because of his industry experience. He knew exactly the pain point that we are trying to solve, as he knows how service companies work and what challenges they face in their day-to-day operations. Therefore, he also made some great introductions to potential customers.
Drazen: As an industry expert, he knew the features and drawbacks of competitive solutions and as such, Florian has also been very hands-on in helping us refine our product.
In what other areas do you get support from your investor base?
Drazen: Most of our investors have an extensive network in the PropTech sector. They help us to connect to potential clients or other relevant companies. At this point in our journey, it is important that we set up some successful reference projects. We value the clients’ constructive feedback, and we continue to come up with new features based on our clients’ requests.
Misha: In addition to that, our investors also support us in Finance, Marketing, and HR-related matters. We are lucky to have such a diverse investor base; they are all from the PropTech sector, but everyone has a different background and specific skill set that we can benefit from. In fact, we really appreciate that we can always pick up the phone and call our investors, even on an ad-hoc basis, and ask for their advice. This helps us to move faster, not just strategically, but also on a day-to-day basis.
You have now raised a € 300k-round. What are your next milestones?
Misha: Four things: we want to grow our revenues 3+ times, add more features to our product, create an operationally efficient corporate structure, and identify key talents for key positions. Hopefully, we will be able to grow our traction enough to raise a seed round at the end of the year.
Drazen: I have personally experienced the same problems that our clients are facing. Hence, we are not only software engineers, but we truly want to make our customers’ lives easier. My personal goal is to make our clients so happy that they eventually become wowflow evangelists.