Discover Germany, Issue 49, April 2017

Page 32

Discover Germany  |  Interview  |  BrickVest

Dr. Thomas Schneider. Photo: © BrickVest

Potsdamer square. Photo: © Berlin Partner, Wuestenhagen

Real estate investment for everyone Located in Berlin, BrickVest is an online real estate investment platform. In our interview, chief investment officer and founder Dr. Thomas Schneider talks about his company, his decision to move it to Berlin and Brexit implications. TEXT: THOMAS SCHROERS

Let’s start by introducing BrickVest. Take me through your company’s origins and core ideas. Schneider: Actually, one can describe us in one sentence. BrickVest is an online real estate investment platform. Looking back, I can recall numerous conversations, which might have sparked ideas for BrickVest. I’ve been in real estate investment all my life, but when I was asked if I myself ever invested, the answer was no. For a guy like you or me it’s just impossible to get access to the real estate investment market under the same terms and conditions as the institutional investors. With BrickVest, we’re taking the opportunities of the internet and changing this situation. When people become members on our site, they receive an all-round carefree package and can take part in deals to which they normally wouldn’t have access. Those are institutional-class real investment deals, which we made available to our members and consequently, they can take part with an investment of only 1,000 euros. 32  |  Issue 49  |  April 2017

You started BrickVest in 2015. How has the development been? Schneider: Our growth has been quite good. Currently we’ve got 3,500 active users, which doesn’t sound a lot, but the number is increasing by 10 to 15 per cent a month, which is great. We’ve started with only four people and now employ 15. So, we’re still growing organically. You’ve got to consider that investing has a lot to do with trust and establishing the necessary level of trust takes time. Last year, after the Brexit vote, you moved to Berlin. What does the city offer you? Schneider: We employ 15 people from eleven nationalities and we need this international talent pool. Like New York, Berlin represents the world at large. For us it’s the perfect economic environment for recruiting talent from all over the world and for our growth in the coming years. Plus, there is the social component. Our international employees feel comfortable in the city and the rent for them and for us as a business are considerably lower.

What were your initial thoughts after the Brexit decision? Schneider: Like everybody else, we were very surprised. You know, the perceived risk in investing in a start-up is already high and something like the Brexit further heightens it. We immediately began our move, to show our investors that we care and are quickly adopting to the new situation and challenges that might come with it. The partial move took us only three to four weeks. We’re very happy with how smooth things went. Our back office and IT department is now here in Berlin and we are perfectly set up for whatever direction the UK Brexit negotiations will head to. Berlin’s Oberbaum Bridge. Photo: © Berlin Partner, Wuestenhagen

Government quarter in Berlin. Photo: © Berlin Partner, Scholvien