How are urban and rural mobility changing? And what’s the impact on real estate?
We were pleased to conduct an interview with Dominik Radic, the founder of Munich start-up Veomo, whose software offers real-time information about transport options on big-screen displays.
Viviana: Perhaps the best question to start with would be whether you have any particularly interesting statistics with regard to transport in Germany?
Dominik: First off, although Germany likes to think of itself as the ‘Home of the Car’ and as a country on the move, the facts paint a rather different picture: on average, every German commuter spends 120 hours a year sat in a traffic jam, while, for 95% of the day, the 47 million vehicles on the country’s roads are not in use. So actually, Germany is a stationary country if anything, not a mobile one.
At the same time, new concepts such as car-sharing providers, ride-hailing apps, rent-a-scooter networks, and various other services, primarily in city centres, are making personal vehicle ownership increasingly superfluous. In just a few years, these new market entrants are changing the way we move around urban environments – and have become established as part of the way many cities run. We expect that they will increase mobility in urban areas, making transport more networked, more flexible, and more sustainable.
Viviana: Taking a broader approach, what would you consider to be the greatest challenges in transport in the coming years?
Dominik: It will take a few years yet for these new forms of transport to become a truly widespread everyday phenomenon – and there are several obstacles along the way, including increasing the profile of what we in Germany call ‘new mobility’.
This is a challenge we are happy to take up, and it will mean breaking old habits at the same time as new forms of transport are made available to more and more people. In order for changes to take hold, we as a society must be ready to ditch outdated ideas and accept new concepts.
By way of example, new ‘micromobility’ concepts such as e-scooters frequently meet with quite serious opposition, often on the precept that they are left lying around blocking pavements; at the same time, no-one mentions the huge amounts of urban space taken up by parked cars. This shows how stationary vehicle have become an accepted part of street furniture.
If various providers of new mobility services were to cooperate more closely with one another, we might be able to open up opportunities for a more easily accessible, comprehensive transport system with a greater availability to more people. What these challenges all show is that all the groups who want change in transport patterns must come together and coordinate their efforts.
Viviana: You yourself do not have your own car: can you talk us through why that is – and would you say that you are typical of your generation in this regard?
Dominik: So I live with my girlfriend close to the city centre, and we both decided against getting our own car. While this might, from a traditional perspective, seem like a decision to reduce our quality of life, we actually see it quite differently.
Firstly, the cost of buying and then running a vehicle is often disproportionately high compared to the benefits of having your own car; secondly, the various ‘micromobility’ options in and around city centres are cheaper for most journeys – not to mention the fact that they are also faster than cars, which often get stuck in traffic (and then need to be parked somewhere…).
When we do actually need a car – e.g. to drive somewhere out of town on the weekend – then we can usually get one using car-sharing providers at an acceptable cost. With many apps, you can secure yourself a vehicle on a whim for very little money and without complicated paperwork.
It is certainly becoming increasingly common not to own your own vehicle, and cars are beginning to lose their role as status symbols as young, urban types switch to the flexibility afforded by using car-sharing and rental vehicles rather than owning their own.
Viviana: Why, in your view, are developments in transport so important for the property market?
Dominik: It isn’t just my girlfriend and I who are changing the way we approach transport, but an increasingly large demographics in cities across the country. The result of this is that the criteria for what makes a property attractive are changing.
While it’s always been the case that you can’t write the prospectus for a property without talking about its transport connections, it’s no longer enough just to write how far away the next bus stop or train station is; marketing a property now means describing transport options far more fully. After all, more and more tenants – and their visitors – will be using e-scooters, rental bikes, and car-sharing vehicles to get to and from properties: listing things like places where they can rent and return from various services increases the attractiveness of the area.
Indeed, lots of urban properties which aren’t in the immediate vicinity of underground stations stand to benefit enormously if these new transport connections are marketed, and the market as a whole will start to change to reflect this new geography. As such, we are convinced that, in the long term, property as an industry will join forces with transport providers, with some landlords perhaps even setting up their own mobility offerings for tenants and their visitors.
Viviana: Could you describe your approach to the market by answering two questions: what are you offering? And who are you offering it to?
Dominik: We are offering a programme called Veomo which offers real-time visualisation of all available transport services on big-screen displays. The information shown includes departures from nearby bus, tram, or metro stops (as well as any delays), how far away the nearest sharing services are, how long it will take a taxi to reach the address, and a map of the surrounding area with the exact location of each transport option. The idea is for Veomo to reduce the everyday stress of commuting and to make the property in question more attractive, all the while supporting sustainable transport.
We install our real-time transport monitors in busy parts of buildings such as lobbies, entrances and exits, and canteens. The information shown can also be served to all tenants on their smartphones and desktop computers, too, without any specific software needing to be installed; businesses, property management companies, trade fair operators, hotels, and airports pay to licence Veomo.
Viviana: You are launching your service in Hamburg and Vienna – and, from my point of view, that raises a question: why not Berlin? I’m sure you’ve got a reason, but as a tech centre, for me, Berlin is the first place that comes to mind for this kind of idea…
Dominik: We actually started offering the software in Munich, where we tested it with our first customers and developed it based on their feedback; since May, we have been rolling it out to other cities and are going to places from where we have received enquiries. Intriguingly enough, it hasn’t been the cities with the greatest profusion of mobility apps from which we have had the most interest, but rather those with the most developed consciousness for sustainability.
Viviana: What is your vision for the future? And what new developments have you got planned for the coming months?
Dominik: Currently, we are focussed on rolling out our service in Germany’s biggest cities and in Vienna. In addition to that, we are developing a web socket which will make it much easier to integrate the information we provide about transport options into other apps, e.g. property management software. We also plan to work on how to show information about transport for properties on the market – i.e. integrating our service into listings and developing a kind of ‘mobility score’ with which to describe transport connections as a simple metric.
Viviana: Thanks a lot for the Interview!
Dominik Radic is the founder of Munich start-up Veomo. Having studied industrial economics and worked for the BMW Group as an analyst specialising in data-based evaluations of competitors’ vehicles and vehicle strategies, Dominik entered BMW’s accelerator programme with a concept for intensifying the take-up of car-sharing; the aim was to win over more and more people to new ways of getting around. He has now gone on to set up Veomo, a company whose software offers real-time information about transport options on big-screen displays.
Head of Marketing & Communications Germany at Cushman & Wakefield