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All technology companies begin with a vision – but founders should beware of shutting out external voices when it comes to progressing the product.

That’s the view of Hans-Christian ‘Gigi’ Zappel, who has built IMMO into a global business from its headquarters in London.

It can be easy to get attached to your idea, product, and company,” he tells TechBlast. “But feedback is crucial to progress. 

“From friends and family to renowned industry experts who have seen it all, their opinions can help you gain vital perspective and avoid blind spots and tunnel vision. 

“You must proactively seek as many opinions, guidance and opportunities to test your product as you can – and at the same time be open to feedback. 

“There will always be people who love your idea, the same way there will always be critics, particularly when innovating a traditionally stubborn sector. The trick is finding the middle ground.

“Who likes the idea, but can think of ways it is flawed, has issues, or room for improvement? These are the insights you need to make sure your product is effectively addressing the issue you are trying to solve.”

Founded in 2017, IMMO is described as Europe’s first technology-led residential real estate platform.

It has assembled an experienced team which includes successful entrepreneurs and industry leaders with expertise from McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, Uber, HSBC, Amazon, Procter & Gamble, BlackRock, Morgan Stanley and Google.

Zappel also advises that founders ‘hustle’, adding:There’s no replacement for hard work. It’s common knowledge, but rings truer than ever in today’s competitive and highly saturated business landscape.

“Hustle all you can and seek opportunities to stress-test both yourself as an entrepreneur and your idea. Present your vision to whoever will listen, and constantly work toward achieving your goal. It’s the above-and-beyond hustle that will eventually set you apart.”

A former investor at US hedge fund Davidson Kempner, Zappel was looking to personally invest in real estate but found the majority of existing housing stock wasn’t considered a viable investment product. He and co-founder Samantha Kempe determined to unearth why residential investment from institutions at any considerable scale had not yet occurred.

“From an investment perspective, residential is the single largest asset class in the UK – worth eight times the value of commercial real estate, which is a huge institutional and established asset class… understanding this, and that renting numbers had been steadily increasing in Europe for the best part of a decade, we set about finding answers,” he says.

“Our search didn’t last long. We quickly realised that the answer was simple: nobody in Europe was doing this because using traditional, manual processes, the value chain was far too inefficient to make it a viable investment, even at scale.

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“We saw the opportunity to re-build the residential value chain, with technology at its core, to remove these inefficiencies and unlock this asset class – not just for the benefit of the institutional investors, such as pension funds and insurance funds, but also renters and the environment.” 

This USP has allowed IMMO to secure commitments of over €1 billion from global institutional investors, as well as Europe’s largest Series B PropTech funding round in 2021.

Zappel says IMMO started with asking a question that many had ignored. “I’d offer this guidance to entrepreneurs no matter the sector: if you don’t ask, you simply don’t get. 

“Be brave, be bold, and ask for what you want. In doing so, you’re leaving the regret of an unasked question behind, and the worst you can hear is ‘no’! Eventually, you’ll hear a ‘yes’.”

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