"There is no clear distinction between online and offline in this transformation, but an increasing share of hybrid models that are connecting the two worlds."
Interview with Vitraum
Since 2015, Vitraum has targeted the construction industry from an end-consumer perspective. Vitraum offers support along the complete process of installing windows and doors in a private home. Their online platform is a mediator - and single point of contact - between customers, craftsmen and manufacturer, providing product advice and recommendations, taking care of the installation process and quotation management. All aspects are tailored to the respective customer. In our interview David Ranft promotes his business.
This interview is part of a larger dossier called "Construction Start-up Radar".
- What will the construction industry look like in 2020? What role does digitalization play?
We expect continuing growth for the global construction over the next decade, there is a huge potential in digitizing many steps of the value chain, new technologies will drive innovation. The perception of products, sales channels and project management will change. The customer experience is becoming more important giving more and more power to the customer. This will turn the industry upside down, because any information and feedback will be direct and way more transparent. There will be no clear distinction between online and offline in this transformation, but an increasing share of hybrid models connecting the two worlds.
- What is your business model? What makes you and your company unique?
Vitraum sells windows and doors including their installation online and matches manufacturers, craftsmen and end customers on a state of the art online platform. We provide detailed information and manage the entire process for all parties.
While the end customer searches online for a solution to his problem, the craftsman works mostly offline. He or she can hardly offer reachability, reliability, service and consultancy quality that the demand side expects. That’s why Vitraum created a digital experience with a convenient process, digital tools and flawless CRM. This is a big relief for craftsmen and can help them generate new customers. Besides Vitraum has strong partnerships with manufacturers. Reasonable margins at all levels and high volumes in procurement lead to enormous discounts for property owners. From the first contact until the final installation.
Vitraum is customer and solution oriented, with scalable and standardized digital sales practices. We offer independent advice, easy online payment with a fixed price guarantee, a guaranteed schedule, quality made in Germany and a stress free assembly.
- What is your company vision (5 years)?
In five years Vitraum will be the number one platform to serve online customers with windows and doors. We will digitize craftsmanship and turn the construction industry inside out, by enhancing the German craftsmanship through customer proximity.
- What does your revenue model look like?
Vitraum gets a share from every sold product and from the installation. Strong expertise in Online Marketing and IT drive efficiency and thus constantly reduce the customer acquisition costs. The German windows and doors market is estimated at a EUR 11 billion. There is further upselling potential with sun and insect protection, security systems and smart home devices, which adds up to a EUR 19 billion market. Going international is quite attractive, since the European market is large and fragmented, too. We see an untapped potential of EUR 52 billion, enormous chances for digitalization.
- How is your company funded?
We received a seven-digit angel funding in 2015 from several angel investors. Our institutional co-founder is the Hamburg based company builder Hanse Ventures, who helped us not only raise the first round, but also connected us with some of the top leaders within the construction industry for advice and partnerships.
- As a start-up, what is your next goal? What partners do you need?
In the coming years we will continue growing and invest in digital processes and software. It is our aim to build the strongest nationwide network of fitters. The window and door manufacturers are already our partners, and we see further potential in other contract work sections and trades with upselling potential, as I just mentioned. We look forward to establishing new partnerships to diversify our portfolio.
- Who are your key clients?
We target end customer (homeowners) directly.
- What are the biggest challenges your clients are currently facing?
Windows and doors are often the first craft in renovation. Our clients, no matter if they represent the business or consumer side, have the problem to understand and find the right product for their needs and a trustworthy craftsman to assemble it. With Vitraum the end customer has a reliable and capable partner who offers his service nationwide. Next to securing a transparent and guaranteed pricing, Vitraum knows all about legal regulations, e. g. for energy efficiency, and has all the relevant information regarding specifications and quality. Due to attractive discounts, based on high volumes in procurement, we can decrease the costs for clients.
Craftsmen want to focus on their core business, that is why we take care of their customer acquisition, communication and billing. The manufacturers have a hard time addressing end customers directly, which is where we jump in and build the connection. To establish lean processes while guaranteeing the best quality and prices for all of our customers and partners is the biggest challenge and greatest motivation for us.
- What options do you offer to potential clients to face their challenges (e.g. workshops, coachings)?
We offer a service center that provides all of our clients with relevant information, to help them compare and find the right offer or get a status update. Usually craftsmen can only be reached very early in the morning. We serve our clients 12 hours, from 8am to 8pm. Besides, we offer an easy and convenient online processing including a high reliability and and excellent consulting competence.
- What prerequisites (e.g. infrastructure, trained personnel, etc.) do your clients need to bring?
As easy as it sounds, all our clients need is internet access, a telephone, an email address, a measuring tape or laser and in particular cases a digital camera to take photos. The craftsman already has everything he needs to do his job. Vitraum is the clever interface that makes the customer experience as smooth as possible, while reducing stress and saving time for the craftsman. Vitraum is the right partner for all sides involved.
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- Photos Jasmina007 / iStockphoto; monkeybusinessimages / iStockphoto; sinemaslow / iStockphoto