Escalating Smart Cities
WeMaintain is the Proptech start-up who has just entered the Singapore market. Co-Founder and COO Jade Francine, explores disrupting the industry and enabling the Smart Cities of tomorrow
Writer: Phoebe Harper
“Singapore has one of the most sophisticated built environments in the world, with almost 9,500 high-rise buildings served by ultra-modern infrastructure.”
Southeast Asia is widely tipped as the global hub for the future of the Proptech industry. Increased investments in infrastructure throughout the region combined with growing population levels rising in alignment with economic performance merge to create a region that is ripe to support the cities of the future within an explosive sector.
WeMaintain is the innovative Proptech company fuelling the development of Smart Cities across the world, inspiring a holistic way of working between modern technologies and the engineers behind their operation.
Breathing new technology into old buildings is at the core of WeMaintain. The greatest example of this is how the company weaves the internet of things (IoT) into infrastructure, thereby placing data analysis and intuitive maintenance at the very heart of their design. Notable examples in the WeMaintain portfolio include the Docklands Light Railway, WeWork and Workspace offices.
WeMaintain has most recently added an office in Singapore to its global footprint, in addition to a presence in both Paris and London. Now, Asia has become WeMaintain’s latest playground, with Singapore as the very nexus of this dynamic growth.
With IoT hardware driving data collection, supported by cloud-based proprietary technology, WeMaintain specialises in elevator and escalator solutions for both commercial and residential real estate. The company’s offering enables an end-to-end solution for critical maintenance for both operators and asset owners.
As one of the three founding members of WeMaintain, alongside Benoit Dupont and Tristan Foureur, Jade Francine takes the helm as Chief of Operations and has been publicly praised by French President Emmanuel Macron for her work in driving the company’s growth.
“We supply an end-to-end solution for building operations. We provide smart maintenance and monitoring solutions for building managers and engineers for the management of critical building operations.
“We started with elevators but now also cover escalators, automatic doors, and fire alarm monitoring systems – with HVAC optimisations in planning for Singapore,” explains Francine.
Since its inception in 2017, WeMaintain has gained attention for securing $36 million in Series B Funding, which serves as a general reflection of the recognition that innovative Proptechs are receiving in today’s financial climate. Indeed, as data from Crunchbase affirms, venture-backed construction tech start-ups raised more than $3.8 billion in funding in 2021. What was once a niche phenomenon, is now a cornerstone of both commercial and residential real estate.
Although an Anglo-French company, WeMaintain is rooted in Asia.
“I helped come up with the idea for WeMaintain when I was in Shanghai, China where I was working with entrepreneurs and start-ups,” she recalls. Indeed, Francine went on to encounter both Dupont and Foureur in both China and India respectively.
“My co-founders had experience in building operations industry and their related technology, and together we realised there was an opportunity for a technology solution that connects all the disparate elements involved in a building’s maintenance and use.”
As the base for many real estate investment trusts (REITs), developers, and investors in Asia Pacific, Singapore provides a strategic new backdrop for WeMaintain.
“We thought Singapore was the obvious next place to launch WeMaintain’s smart building solutions,” she says.
“Singapore’s history as a city-state has demanded innovation literally from day one, and as it constantly seeks innovation via a tech-oriented regulatory backdrop, it ensures Smart Cities initiatives rapidly move from policy to widespread commercial adoption.”
Complementary to this, Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has recently introduced a progressive wage model for lift and elevator engineers.
“This aligns with our core focus on compensating the value creators, i.e. the engineers (rather than the management structure!).”
WeMaintain seeks to implement a symbiosis between modern advancements and the past, combining the advantages of future-facing technology with the human capabilities of engineers that have effectively built the industry - ever since Elisha Graves Otis first invented the safety brake that revolutionised the vertical transport industry and established public trust in elevators back in 1852.
“We have our own engineers for maintenance on the ground and utilise IoT to install smart sensors in buildings to gather more information about their use, using the data to plan, predict, and implement repairs,” Francine outlines.
“But IoT alone is not enough, you need people on the ground to transform the experience and the daily operations. This is where we can leverage our engineers,” she states.
It is this human-centric approach and solid belief in empowering the true value creators behind buildings with both autonomy and flexibility that stands as a key differentiator for WeMaintain.
As a further reflection of this concern, the customer remains central to WeMaintain’s solutions, which are both accessible and user-friendly in order to deliver true advantage. This is best exemplified by WeMaintain’s customer platform, which offers simple visibility and analysis of the data gathered for easy interpretation.
“Smart Cities will rely on the gathering and implementation of data, and this is where our IoT solutions will be beneficial for building managers and owners.
“As commercial areas expand and change, sometimes into residential or mixed residential and commercial areas, it will remain important to offer building managers and owners solutions to improve building maintenance, efficiency, and occupant experience,” opines Francine.
“Thanks to our approach, our customers will be able to gain insights into building usage and can adjust policies to incorporate cost-saving via the detailed analytics that we offer.”
With global expansion top of the agenda, WeMaintain has its sights set keenly on Asia Pacific.
“We are establishing partnerships in Singapore today that will launch us across APAC tomorrow,” comments Francine, indicating hopes for further developments across the region as neighbouring countries seek to compete with Singapore.
“2021 was a very successful year for the WeMaintain team and we hope to continue to bring our innovative solutions to customers across the world - watch this space!”