What it means to be truly ESG-Oriented: Interview with 20-30 Coliving's Marcus Waserbrot

9 minutes read

Businesses who walk the extra mile for customer satisfaction and ESG are always a source of inspiration. 

Previously, we featured interviews with Brian Welsh from Round Hill Capital, Malte Wallschläger from HIH, Dimitri Huygen from Xior Student Housing and Grigor Hadjiev from Allianz Real Estate on their digital transformation journey. Each one of them galvanizes the real estate industry to make use of technology for optimizing the customer journey.

In this article of our innovation series, we highlight the digitalization vision and roadmap of 20-30 Coliving from Sweden, a young coliving operator with a strong emphasis on sustainability, empowering tenants' lives since 2020. 

“Innovation defines many coliving operators' vision, brand, and business strategy. Coliving is a new and niche concept with a customer profile that demands a tech-enabled life in buildings,” says Marcus Waserbrot, 20-30 Coliving's co-founder. 

What are your go-to strategies that define your innovation roadmap? 

Approaching innovation in a meaningful way is vital. Onboarding tech products from a rushed state of mind to catch up with competitors is not a good idea. 

Today's truth or trend may not be relevant to tomorrow. Keeping our ear to the ground, always tracking the new trends, listening to the customers, observing how the existing solutions are affecting the business – these are our go-to strategies. 

Collaboration is also a big part of our roadmap. For example, on the software side, we decided not to build our own tenant experience app, and we collaborated with Spaceflow. From the very beginning, we were determined to not develop our own app, as Spaceflow's product roadmap was aligned with ours. From early days Spaceflow had a clear strategy for smart metering with gamification, user-friendliness, integrations and so on. On the hardware side, we collaborate with a water-saving solution. All of these help us take better care of our customer satisfaction; since partnerships save us valuable time and resources. 

How do the strategies defining your ESG roadmap look like? 

First, we work heavily with transforming existing buildings into new living spaces. Taking care of what is already there, but making it more effective instead of constructing new buildings – this is very important. Economically and environmentally, this is the best thing we can do for ESG – saving the old buildings. Also, this serves as a faster solution to address the housing crisis that whole Europe is facing at the moment. 

Our retrofitting journey started a year ago, with the opening of our Copartment in Lund. The building that was saved from being torn down. Then, we brought coliving into the building, saved the previously empty and not-efficient building, and brought a really flourishing community into it. The transformation did not take a lot of effort, since this was already a residential space. 

Second, it comes down to measuring – how we perform as the property operator, and how the owner and tenants perform as well. Living sustainably is not easy. It takes a lot of thought and effort. From the chemicals in the soap that tenants use in their restrooms to the long-term usability of the furniture in their spaces – we try to nudge everything with a sustainable mindset. 

Our tenants are young, busy professionals. For many, the motivation behind their long-term stay at 20-30 is our sustainability focus, and us taking the majority of initiatives for them. Coliving is already a sustainable living solution, but we can't be satisfied with the status quo. Our job as the operators is to always challenge it, with small yet important details. 

In addition to your focus on innovation and sustainability, what are your go-to strategies for tenant satisfaction?

We have dedicated community managers in each building whose priority is to make sure that tenants are happy. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to communities, therefore activities are different in each building. Personal approach, taking initiative without tenants demanding it – these are very important, especially if tenants are new to the city. We pay great attention to staying in touch with to-be, current and alumni tenants, making sure that they always have quick and satisfactory replies to their feedback. 

Spaceflow's tenant app helps us do that in an easier way on a daily basis. Features such as request reporting, document management, custom onboarding and messaging may sound like basic things to others, but these are the most important, core life enablers to make busy tenants' lives easier. 

Let's take document management as an example: when tenants don't have to email us for important information about the building, but they simply find it on the app; it saves everyone's time and energy. This greatly improves the overall tenant experience– because the demand for easiness and simplicity in life is very high. 

Our collaboration with Spaceflow will grow as the app features grow, and as our community needs evolve. In the near future, we would like to bring smart locker integrations, as well as smart measuring for ESG. 

What are the other elements that differentiate your coliving operations from others?  

I believe that our brand value underlines the strong sustainability focus – and this makes tenants choose to stay in our buildings not only because it is a cool place to live; but because they resonate with the sustainability-focused lifestyle of 20-30. 

Another differentiator is our high-end design which is also rooted in sustainability. We use long-lasting furniture and minimalist design that contributes to well-being in the space.

We know that Sweden is one of the most progressive countries in real estate modernization. How would you evaluate your local market progressiveness, compared to other European markets? 

I agree that Sweden is doing great things when it comes to digitalization in real estate. Though I believe that there is still a lot to be done. We observe that in 2023, companies are cutting costs on PropTech spending due to the macroeconomic struggles. I believe that now is the time to push even further with property technologies, as companies may fall behind others in the aftermath of the economic struggle period. 

What needs more attention in the Swedish real estate market is the housing crisis, just as in other European countries. Due to the lack of housing, we are not able to bring great talents that can take high-level jobs in Sweden. This makes us lose millions of Swedish crowns of growth. On top of that, due to the lack of affordable housing, young people struggle with establishing their independence. 

This is exactly why 20-30 Coliving staff are driven to be in this sector – to make a change and difference in not only housing but every aspect of life. 

19. February 2023
9 minutes read


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