We are always eager to learn about the success of new businesses in their industry. In this series of founder spotlights, we would like to introduce you to Tom Ogrodzki, the CEO and founder of REDD. REDD is one of the world’s most powerful real estate platforms, with a mission to enhance the entire workflow of commercial real estate professionals. Join us as we explore the exciting journey and initiatives of REDD, as shared by Tom.
Tom, thank you for joining us today. To kick things off, could you share a bit about your background and what inspired you to start REDD?
Hi, guys. Happy to talk to you!
I’m laughing that there are a lot of patterns, in whatever I do, and so my background could be summed up with 3 P’s: Photography, Psychology, Proptech.
Happy to guide you through.
You’ve been the CEO and Founder of REDD since March 2018. Can you walk us through your professional journey leading up to the establishment of REDD, especially your role as the CEO of SkyConcept?
I’ll give you a broader perspective because my journey was quite unique.
My dad, an amateur photographer, shared his passion throughout our home. I loved spending time with him, and was eager to improve my photography skills. At 13, I landed my first gig – Dad took my brother and me on a business trip to photograph museums. To our delight, some of our pictures were published in national publications!
After high school, I faced a decision about my future education. I was torn between two fields: photography and psychology. Surprisingly, I didn’t get into photography studies but succeeded in entering the more challenging psychology program at Poland’s top university.
At 21, a friend and mentor steered me towards the commercial real estate market. He helped me find a perfect niche that matched my skills and ambitions. Back then, real estate companies were spending heavily on helicopters for advertising photos of their properties – skyscrapers, industrial parks, retail centers. But we had already discovered something they hadn’t: drones. With my friend’s assistance, we bought one of the first commercial drones in Europe. Exciting times…
REDD is positioned as the #1 CRE Market Intelligence Platform in CEE. How did your experience contribute to the development and success of REDD?
With more than 10 years at the intersection of commercial real estate and technology, my co-founders and I understood the industry’s critical pain point.
This knowledge is vital, as I recently shared on LinkedIn: companies aiming for success in this sector must focus on high-impact problems exclusively. This is due to commercial real estate’s unique nature: it features low volume but extremely high value, substantial adaptation costs due to its physical nature, and a relative resilience to economic downturns.
Therefore, “nice to have” is “no need to have”.
REDD has been making significant strides. Can you share insights into any recent developments or initiatives that are shaping the growth and development of REDD? Additionally, are there plans for potential fundraising activities in the near future?
REDD has an outstanding team from top to bottom. I have exceptional co-founders, Piotr and Tomasz, highly skilled in technology, sales, and real estate. Our team of 30 comes from various worlds, but together we have the power to shift this multi-billion dollar industry.
In 2023, we conducted an angel funding round that brought top real estate stars in Europe on board as investors.
2024 will be the year of shaping the company, building proofs of scalability, and first profitability. We want to be ready for wider expansion in 2025, preceded by raising a larger round of funding.
How does REDD stand out from its competitors, and how do you see the future of AI in sales evolving, with REDD playing a significant role?
I’d say that our secret is… no secret. We work hard, talk to the industry professionals about their pains, and build relationships on the market.
Regarding AI, it brings a tremendous opportunity to the commercial real estate industry. What happened throughout this year in the field of AI will probably fuel our growth in the next few years as “there’s no AI without data”.
Just this year, we finished a grant-backed research project “REDD AI”, in which we built an AI-powered valuation model for modern office properties. In the test environment, the model reaches accuracy above 85% of determining current asset valuations. It was just last week, when one of the top asset managers tried to challenge the platform. We launched the model, and 20 seconds later we got the results – our AI missed his official valuation by no more than 5%!
REDD leverages the power of big data for real-time analysis in the real estate market. How does this approach benefit industry professionals?
Commercial real estate is a transactional industry, where every transaction relies on data. Currently, there is no unified source depicting the European market landscape. The available knowledge is fragmented and lacks standardization.
REDD Platform changes this by providing professionals with all the necessary information “within clicks”. Think of us as the PitchBook for the commercial real estate industry, where properties replace startups.
How does the company plan to utilize the recent funding to facilitate its growth, and what specific strategies are in place to leverage this investment for the company’s development?
Two things will drive our growth in 2024: improving the experience of asset managers and increasing market share across all five countries in CEE.
As the Company grows, could you mention the importance of the cap table management system in dealing with relationships among founders, investors, shareholders and others?
Cap table is one of those things you want to keep under control, especially when you grow with many investors and shareholders.
Looking ahead in 2024, what is your long-term vision for REDD, and how do you see the company continuing to innovate and contribute to the real estate market in the coming years?
Our mission is to empower better decision-making with data-driven tools and establish a new data standard in Europe’s commercial real estate market.
This is crucial, as real estate is more than just a business sector. It’s a tangible part of the urban fabric that affects our daily lives, climate change, and more.
I believe initiatives like REDD will lead to a more resilient and net-zero industry, where professionals are delighted to work with cutting-edge technological tools.
For aspiring entrepreneurs entering the Proptech or Real Estate Technology sector, could you share advice based on your experience founding and leading REDD, including insights on securing funding?
First, immerse yourself in the industry’s language. Try to learn and understand it.
Second, focus on building relationships.
When you’ve pinpointed the industry’s pain points, consider a direct approach to CRE investors or sector-specific VCs. The commercial real estate industry is complex and often not fully understood by general venture capitalists. The current office crisis and high-profile cases like the WeWork bankruptcy only add to the challenge.
Finally, and most importantly, practice patience. Change in this sector is evolutionary, not revolutionary.