November 14, 2023
Start-up? Market leader!
Hello Domagoj, you founded PlanRadar around ten years ago. How did the idea come about?
“Actually, I am a trained electrical engineer. I came to construction management through my work for an architect and engineering firm. It started with a major project in Croatia, and from there it went on, also internationally. I encountered the same difficulties in defect management everywhere: You walked around the construction site with a huge plan, notebooks, a Dictaphone, a camera and typed everything into Excel spreadsheets afterwards. There were already tablets and smartphones. I thought, you have to be able to digitize that.”
I assume that like many “digitizers” you had to fight resistance initially?
“At that time, the product came out under the name DefectRadar. Companies were used to installing software products with a CD and saving everything on their own computers. In the private sphere, people were already ready to use cloud solutions such as social media, but in the professional context, they still shied away from it. Nevertheless, we were sure that cloud would be the future.”
How did you get money back then?
“I simply went to engineering firms and asked how much they would pay for a digital solution. Six months after the start-up, we had a first version ready and were able to generate recurring revenue right away. After the launch, our first two customers came from the UK and Australia. They just bought licenses and swiped the credit card on the other side of the world, without any communication. Because they understood: This saves us time – namely seven hours per employee per week.”
Once you realized the idea was working, how did you proceed?
If you want to put up a skyscraper, you need a good foundation to stay in the building language – so in our case, a strong C-level. With Clemens Hammerl (CPO & Co-Founder) and Constantin Köck (CTO & Co-Founder), I bootstrapped the product for several years until we had so many customers that we needed support. In 2015, Ibrahim Imam (Co-CEO & Co-Founder) and Sander van de Rijdt (Co-CEO & Co-Founder) joined us, who had already built and sold several companies.
Last year, you closed your second round of financing and are now aiming for 500 employees. Covid doesn’t seem to have hurt your business model – quite the opposite.
“That’s right. On the one hand, we are developing the product into a platform so that the entire life cycle of a property can be documented. On the other hand, the financing rounds (note: 30 million in 2020, 60 million in 2022) are helping us to expand into Europe and America. Globally, we now have eighteen locations, but we manage the business primarily from Vienna.”
How does the location benefit you?
“When you think of start-up cities in the German speaking world, Berlin comes to mind first. In Europe, probably London.But Vienna is known for its wide range of cultural offerings. When I travel around, you only hear good things; everyone is dying to visit. Of course, that helps when you’re attracting talent.”
As a successful founder, you also invest in startups. Why does that make sense for you?
“It would be a shame if the know-how were to lie fallow. I can draw on my experience, assess potential well, accompany it on its journey, and perhaps positively influence one or two decisions.”
I simply enjoy supporting younger people and promoting talent.
Founder of PlanRadar