Meet The Founder: iknowa -Proprietary Tech Powering  Better Renovation Projects

Meet The Founder: iknowa -Proprietary Tech Powering Better Renovation Projects

1st September 2020 by Michaela Salomon

Renovating a property can be extremely stressful. From starting a project, to sourcing the right construction teams, to assessing the quality of the job, the journey is disjointed, and leaves all stakeholders underserved. 

iknowa is bringing technology to a space that’s been historically slow to adopt in, and in the process, they’re making funding, building and  managing renovation projects easier for everyone involved.

We sat down with founders Allar Ahtmann and Keano Chang to find out more about the company that’s upgrading an age-old, underrepresented market, and bringing benefits to homeowners, property developers, and tradespeople alike.

What is iknowa’s vision?

We started iknowa  to transform the future of the building and improve the construction sector by empowering tradespeople and property owners to create, collaborate and manage building and renovation projects.

iknowa is leveraging cognitive technologies to address inefficiencies while transforming the way building and renovation projects are procured and performed through an easy to use mobile and web-based platform. We’re trying to apply proprietary AI to assist homeowners, property developers and tradespeople in analysing project quality and performance to proactively address issues before they arise. 

Our platform reduces time and money spent on administrative tasks, while enhancing the posting, quoting and management, for all user groups.

What gave you the inspiration to start building the company?

The  idea first came to us when we noticed all the inefficiencies and problems associated with the building and construction industry. As a whole, the industry was lagging behind in regard to tech adoption. That’s when we decided to create iknowa, to improve the efficiency, transparency and simplify project processes.

What does the competitive landscape look like and how is iknowa disrupting it?

Building and construction is the least digitised industry. What iknowa does is equip homeowners and tradespeople through innovative, transparent and cost-effective tools, freeing users from repetitive and time-consuming tasks so that they can spend more time on what they do best and what they love.

iknowa is well-positioned to bring a simple, user-centric experience to the home construction and renovation industry with a platform that provides a better tools, experience and safety to everyone involved.

What has growth looked like to date?

Our growth has been strong across three key areas; R&D, Finance and Partnerships. So far we’ve worked with a top legal firm to finalise three software patents to cover our proprietary system and method, with a further two in the pipeline waiting to be filed.

Despite the challenges seen during 2020 we have been able to successfully raise over £300,000, attracting notable investors and advisors to join our board.

iknowa was also recently featured in various press releases as industry publications have been keen to understand how iknowa solves current problems, present within the homebuilding sector. Coverage has included Showhouse (the leading publication for large UK homebuilders), London-Loves-Property, Business Money, Medium and more.

What will be the greatest challenge going forward?

As a marketplace within the building and renovations sector (with an FCA approved, neobank at our core) we are dedicated in serving our community to ensure every project regardless of size is a success. We haven’t made it easy for ourselves, as this industry suffers from a large number of challenges and disputes, but we will continue to build out a scalable solution which seamlessly handles this without any human interaction required.

What gives your team the expertise to succeed in this space?

Not only do we all believe in the product we’re building, but every member of our team is an expert in their field. This expertise, within the team and on the advisory board, has enabled us to achieve some amazing things and allowed us to focus on creating advocates of the product.

The passion for the project combined with industry experience allows us to always strive for the highest quality outcome, and  maintain a successful and fun working environment.

What has been the most exciting success so far?

All our most exciting success relates to the current expertise of the team, our positioning in the market and the growth seen to date.

So far, we’ve:

  • Secured three software patents to cover our proprietary system and methods
  • Raised over £300,000
  • Launched new proprietary features not currently available in the building and renovation space

We also have a number of initiatives and product development upcoming, including developing banking infrastructure, team optimisation features and project stacking and collaboration tools for our users.

We are an infrastructure first company that’s focused on building out a stable and fully scalable ecosystem. 

What do you think about when hiring new people for your team? 

Our culture is creative, collaborative, supportive and fun. We’ve adopted the same policy around transparency that’s been embedded across our platform. 

Because of this we do not enable siloed work, as each team member is expected to leverage their expertise and the experiences of others, to pressure test new theories and concepts whilst being open to learn new things. This same methodology is applied when hiring new team members.

Why did you choose crowdfunding?

For two main reasons. Firstly, crowdfunding, was a great way to communicate that a service like iknowa finally exists. Secondly we found it to be the only way that simply unified the opportunity for everyday investors to join on this journey with larger sophisticated investors. 

This round with Seedrs allows us to bring on board every type of investor, we’re looking forward to building an engaged investor community that’s as invested in the development of our product, and the betterment of the industry as we are.

What’s the first renovation you’d undertake in your own home?

Allar: “Energy efficiency – Insulating the home as well as changing windows and doors. This helps to increase overall energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. It’s all about creating a positive impact, hence why we have created iknowa.”

Keano: “Kitchen renovation -The kitchen is a heart of every home, and who doesn’t love delicious food, cooked in a newly renovated smart kitchen?”

What are you doing when you’re not working?

Allar: “Love spending time with my partner and with the iknowa team outside the office, reading books, listening to podcasts, working out, contributing to others and trying out new adventurous things (In other words Growing and Giving while feeding the mind and body).”

Keano: “When I’m not in the office, you’ll probably see me beating Dan (Head of Marketing) on the tennis courts, spending time with friends and family or attending an amazing gym session led by Allar (Chairman and CEO). If I’m at home, I’ll be reading or breaking out the whiteboard to learn something new. 

To find out more about iknowa, visit the pitch now.

Michaela Salomon

Michaela Salomon

Campaign Support Team

Digital Agency Kent