“Because one of the biggest decisions in peoples’ lives, can and should be made easier, more informed, and more engaging.”
Those are the words at the core of DIAKRIT’s business purpose and has fueled its inspiration. As the company celebrates 15 years of revolutionizing the real estate industry, those words could not be more true. Fredrik Bergman, co-founder and CEO of DIAKRIT, has been the company’s leader throughout this time, experiencing all the changes and accomplishments the company has seen during its existence. The story of DIAKRIT is intriguing and provides a great learning experience. Find out how it began – from the original idea to all the major breakthroughs this company has seen over the years.
Here is an exclusive interview with one of the three founders who made it all possible…
Q1. DIAKRIT is a leading digital real estate marketing company that assists over 2,000 major real estate clients worldwide. Fredrik, when you founded DIAKRIT in 2001 together with Dick Karlsson (Exec. VP & CSMO) and Martin Fritze (VP & CTO), 3D visualisation in Sweden was still at a very early stage. Why did you go precisely for the real estate industry?
At the time, I was looking to buy a new home and found it really hard to weed through all the listings and eventually find one that could live up to my requirements. A blurry floorplan sketch, some few low-quality photos and a small description was all the market had to offer for me to base my buying decision upon.
This sparked an idea. We did some market research and found that there were no Swedish floorplan producers to meet the demand for tools that help consumers to not only better visualize the layout and space of a property, but also to see the potential for renovation and redecoration plus what it would feel like to live there. The internet was still young but we saw a clear, growing demand from people turning to the World Wide Web to make more informed, educated decisions online.
We decided to meet that demand by first creating high quality 2D and 3D visualisations that gave a better idea of how the layout of the property looks. We established our own professional photographer network to enhance the quality level in property photos.
Eventually, as the online demand for more engaging content grew – we decided to develop interactive furnishing applications that ultimately allowed consumers to plan, furnish and mentally “move in” to the home of their dreams.
Q2. What made you enter the New Development sector in 2008?
Back then, the real estate industry was impacted by the global financial crisis. Due to increased difficulty in selling new development, there was a surge in demand for our solutions. We developed D-Navigator™ to help revive the industry with 3D software that truly brings future living spaces to life before they are even built.
Q3. DIAKRIT is now celebrating an impressive milestone, the company’s 15-year anniversary, is this an accomplishment you foresaw when you first began?
Not really, it’s always exciting to turn the page and step into another year in business. When we turned 5, I felt really excited. When we turned 10, it was a particularly big achievement as we did two major acquisitions in Norway and Denmark, leading to us becoming the #1 provider of digital real estate marketing solutions in Scandinavia. At 15, I feel that we’ve really matured as a company, with all the streamlined systems and production processes in place – which is ultimately what makes our business so scalable. Our people are clearly doing great work and I’m proud of them.
Q4. What was the most terrifying aspect of starting your own digital marketing company?
I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and had co-founded and established other digital companies prior to DIAKRIT, so I can’t really say I was terrified. But perhaps one of the things often forgotten is all the risks an entrepreneur takes in the first 10 years, investing its own capital and time. If things go south, you will face difficult consequences.
Q5. Did you feel added pressure of being at the forefront of a fast-changing industry?
The market, and the industry, is changing all the time. This constant change is one of the things that has made this so exciting; the inventing of new solutions, the innovation behind products; all to change the industry, and to help DIAKRIT continue to lead the way.
Q6. Today, as in the past, technical developments played a key role. Fredrik, apart from that, what do you think are DIAKRIT’s strengths?
We put great value in working closely with clients strategically, as we aim to be a genuine partner and not just “another supplier”. To give you an example, many of the products we’ve developed are derived from the clients’ valuable insight in the industry, as well as its needs. Thanks to these excellent relationships, we’ve been able to be in the forefront to give the market what it needs and wants. Additionally, we always try to imagine it from the end-user’s perspective – something that helps all parties involved. For instance, by implementing the latest technology, such as VR, our solutions allow the end-user to envision his or her future home more realistically.
Another invaluable strength we have, is our people. Our talented photographers, in-house editors and draftsmen, highly-skilled 3D developers, as well as our sales team! Everyone emits inspiring dedication and passion for our mission, for why we exist in the first place.
Q7. DIAKRIT is a relatively large SME. Is it easier to operate the business today than it was five years ago? What are the game-changing differences you have seen so far in 2016?
Yes, in some way it’s easier to operate today than it was 5 years ago. We have stronger teams; from more skilled draftsmen and editors to a stronger management team. The biggest, absolutely game-changing difference was when News Corp Australia stepped in as majority shareholder in DIAKRIT earlier this year. This has already proven to help us as we expand globally with a more strategic and internationally experienced Board of Directors.
Q8. With over 500 employees working in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, US, Australia and Thailand, do you think the company culture and business is still influenced by its Swedish origins?
Yes, it is still very influenced by its Swedish origins, both in business and management culture, but also when it comes to innovation and product development. Sweden, and Scandinavia overall, have long been known to breed innovation.
Q9. Any favorite highlights 2001-2016?
DIAKRIT’s floorplan evolvement throughout the years.
The first New Development project (D-Navigator™) developed and delivered for NCC – one of the leading construction, property development and infrastructure companies in Northern Europe.
Our 10-Year anniversary – we flew all employees from all countries to our head office in Bangkok where we enjoyed two days of valuable team building activities.
When we joined the News Corp Australia family as they became the majority shareholder in DIAKRIT.
From left: Dick Karlsson (Exec. VP & CSMO), Fredrik himself and Martin Fritze (VP & CTO) right after having signed the News Corp deal (FEB, 2016)
Q10. In 5 years, the company celebrates two decades. Where do you see the company and what product, business or technology breakthroughs do you look forward to by then?
We are currently rolling out our products in Australia, News Corp’s home turf, so I’d like to see that sales market fully established in five years, while also expanding our establishment in Europe and the U.S. Also, with technological development as wind in our sails, I think we will produce even more interactive solutions and platforms in which they can be showcased and used.
Q11. What advice would you give to those with the same aspirations as yourself, fifteen years ago as well as today?
Have patience and stay calm. To build a business takes time, and you need to invest in building a network of people and connections. Don’t get stuck in the same pattern – you never know just what opportunity lies around the corner!
Q12. Ultimately, what makes DIAKRIT….DIAKRIT?
Undoubtedly – our people and our spirit!