Interview: Michael Ambjørn, managing director Proptech Denmark

The demand for proptech solutions is on the rise

“There’s a tendency for tech founders being in love with their own product, rather than their customer’s challenges. It is the latter that gets you product-market-fit.”
Nordic Business

How do you see the future of PropTech developing in the Nordic region and globally?
Bright, but don’t just take my word for it. PropTech Denmark and Colliers have recently worked together on a survey of real estate companies, proptech startups and scaleups – as well as established tech suppliers. And whilst the survey focused on Denmark we’re hearing similar from the rest of the Nordics, and indeed globally: the demand for proptech solutions is on the rise. 92 per cent of the companies that identify as suppliers of digital solutions to the real estate sector are experiencing growth with 77 % seeing very high or high growth levels. And that’s before we factor in that the #1 priority for 2022 onward is the green transition, which isn’t possible without digitization.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to a Nordic proptech startup’s ambitions to expand internationally?
First, start by understanding your customer’s strategy at board level. There’s a tendency for tech founders being in love with their own product, rather than their customer’s challenges. It is the latter that gets you product-market-fit. Shortcut the process by getting board level buy-in for a well-resourced, time-limited pilot. If it is successful you can use it as a trampoline to help you grow, learn – and then jump into additional markets. The unique advantage of the Nordics is our low power distance, relatively easy access to execs – and a willingness to try things out if the challenges are real.

Secondly, get all the help you can get from the ecosystem. It takes a village as the saying goes. Draw on organizations such as PropTech Denmark and our peers across the region. We regularly organise Market Entry programs. Winning the Nordic Proptech Awards also helps. Remember, you need to be in it to win it. Lastly, once you’ve succeeded, don’t forget to send the lift back down again for the next generation. Mentor, invest, advise and do whatever else you can. The urgent challenges of the 21st century demand we do our best.

How will Proptech Denmark contribute to getting even more professional investors and real estate companies interested in proptech?
First and foremost by bringing people together so they can explore challenges together. And there are a lot of challenges right now. From Net Zero commitments that have to be met – to the raft of regulatory initiatives coming at the sector at speed – including the EU taxonomy. The region’s biggest asset class is set to be reshaped. Add to that a rapidly changing market where people expect human-centric, digital-by-default solutions that make our buildings, urban environments and cities more liveable. And that’s even before we mix in the energy transition and inflation. All these topics come up at one time or another during our 50+ events and activities throughout the year, and we take it on at board-level at our annual Proptech Symposium.

FACTS about Michael Ambjørn:

  • City (of living): Copenhagen + previously Espoo, Manchester, Edinburgh, São Paulo, London and Düsseldorf 
  • Education: Chartered Director
  • Background/work experience: Startups, IBM, Motorola, The RSA
  • What are your interests? Bringing people together to make change
  • What is your best way to see a city? On a bicycle
  • One of the best espressos in Copenhagen? ’Democratic Coffee’ next to the Central Library

 Michael Ambjorn is the Managing Director of PropTech Denmark – a non-profit association that brings together leaders across the real estate ecosystem with a common purpose to drive sustainable innovation and digitalisation within the industry. Members include both significant real estate players and a large number of proptech startups and technology suppliers. 

Michael will host this year’s Proptech Symposium where you can emerge yourself in first-class networking opportunities, inspirational talks, innovative sessions, and thought-provoking debates. Meet real estate peers, thought leaders, and proptech startups from all across the Nordics. Listen to international real estate leaders and proptech experts sharing how they tackle the challenges and opportunities technology and sustainability are bringing. Michael is also a Chartered Director – and has advised startups, impact organisations and change makers across five continents. He serves on a range of advisory boards and has previously held management roles at IBM, Motorola and The RSA. 

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