Allar Klein, Chairman and CEO and Keano Chang, President and COO
A leading net-zero (B2B & B2C) platform, for property & building services.
Property and Construction
iknowa is a platform that connects the property & construction sector, through the use of coupled, cross-sector deep data and intelligence augmentation, creating a digital twin of each property. In turn, iknowa is able to provide - individuals and organisations with tailored insights & actionable steps, to:
1) increase energy efficiency,
2) meet new regulations,
3) lower household costs, and
4) understand potential opportunities to further increase the value of a property.
Leveraging patent-pending technology - tailored property insights can be conveniently transformed to detailed building project propositions associated to a property in real-time with issued; estimates, project plans & sign-offs submitted by trades contractors & regulatory bodies irrefutably mapped to a properties digital twin establishing an accurate auditable log of historical works.
Having worked in the residential, as well as commercial property & construction sector for over 17 years, Allar Klein, Chairman and CEO at iknowa, grew to realise how the sectors were disconnected and in dire need of digitisation.
Holding a unique insight to transformation across sectors, Keano Chang, President and COO at iknowa, understood areas of potential opportunity and trending inefficiency, following a background in technology.
Together they built iknowa, an end-to-end property and construction platform for; tradespeople, property owners, regulators, local authorities and academic institutions.
With a focus on decarbonisation and net-zero, a main objective of iknowa from the start has been, to make the process of any property; development, retrofit or refurbishment streamlined & transparent, leveraging technology. In doing so, iknowa has established one of the leading renewable energy programs in the UK which is live in beta.
Through the platform, iknowa is able to detail every trade contractors’; quality of work, their prior experience as well as presenting upskilling opportunities in line with current legislation.
With embedded intelligent management tools, iknowa makes it easy to track projects from start to finish, ensuring no stone is left unturned. Providing transparency for all stakeholders involved, as back office processes are simplified and automated.
"Given the construction sector has suffered from under-digitisation for a long time, it has resulted in low levels of trust and transparency. Our solution is positioned for any commercial or residential clients to easily manage their property, or start and deliver a project to the highest standard. In doing so, we’re able to verify in real-time, qualified, trustworthy and transparent tradespeople, during projects against 360 degree project plans to eliminate complexity" says Allar.
The R&D activity iknowa conducts centres around building and improving this intelligent platform.
Before switching to EmpowerRD, iknowa had previously claimed with a traditional provider. Their experience was not positive.
As a dynamic, tech-driven business, iknowa was puzzled by how complex their advisor made things and how archaic their processes were. Following an initial onboarding session to determine their eligibility, various team members were put through more than 100 hours of video calls and interview questions.
From the beginning, they were frustrated by the lack of clarity and communication. iknowa were never told how much of their time would be taken up, and once the process of building their claim started, they were surprised by the amount of time and resources they had to give up to complete the work.
'The fact that we needed to make numerous developers available was a real-time suck. We're a small team, and time is of the essence,' says Keano.
'Out of the 100 hours, there were 40 hours given from multiple team members that were taken out of that day. It dragged on.' Allar added.
iknowa asked if the provider could share the costs and technical information included in the report, and they even offered to help write the claim to speed up the process. Their provider refused to share any information. When the claim was submitted to HMRC, iknowa had no copy of the claim and didn't know the size of their claim.
Nonetheless, iknowa had been reassured on the initial onboarding call that the provider had handled thousands of claims and was a member of the Law Society and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. This gave them the confidence that their claim was in good hands.
'After it had been submitted, HMRC raised an enquiry. It was then that we knew something was up. They stole 100 hours of our time, and we were left trying to clarify what they wrote up and submitted to HMRC' says Allar. 'Keano then spent hours on the phone with HMRC, without knowing what had been included in the claim', he adds.
The provider went quiet and gave no assistance throughout the enquiry process. iknowa was forced to deal with HMRC themselves.
'After being quoted by the provider that it would take 3-4 weeks to receive our credits, it eventually took 4 months and hours more time before we received money from HMRC’.
After their experience with their provider, Keano and Allar were desperate to find a provider that reflected how they worked. As a tech-driven agile startup determined to promote transparency and efficiency, EmpowerRD instantly appealed to iknowa. The online platform, combined with expert R&D advisors, was precisely the solution they were crying out for.
"With the platform EmpowerRD provides, we had the control over things that we wanted to have control over.... It was exactly what we wanted after our last experience. It was a breath of fresh air."
Working with EmpowerRD
EmpowerRD helped Keano and Allar discover a process that worked for them. They were able to file their claim promptly, effectively, and with complete transparency.
“With the platform EmpowerRD provides, we had the control over things that we wanted to have control over. It was so easy, we could upload our cost data and technical information and then let EmpowerRD’s team build our claim in the background. It was exactly what we wanted after our last experience. It was a breath of fresh air.’
Throughout the process of building the claim, EmpowerRD’s in-platform ‘Grammarly’ style prompts were extremely useful for iknowa.
“It was great to have the platform prompts. Having the suggestions enabled us to have internal discussions about whether a cost was too high or not” says Allar.
The claim dashboard was also a real help for iknowa. Allar and Keano loved that they could track the progress of their claim and team members. ‘There was so much transparency with the dashboard, it was such a help and so easy to use’ says Allar.
It wasn’t just the platform that helped iknowa, they really appreciated the customer service they received.
‘Whenever we had a question, a team member was always there to help. Whether it was getting in touch through the 24/7 chatbot or over email, someone was always on the other line.’ said Keano
Allar adds, ‘In fact, I remember that our claim manager pinged me straight away after noticing that I’d inputted an unusually high figure for an employee’s salary. The level of detail and service was so much better than our previous provider.’
It was also essential for iknowa to access R&D advance funding, which gives you up to 80% of your future credits up to 9 months before year-end.
‘Advance funding was going to be big for us on the cash flow front, It was required to develop the product further.’
Our thorough due diligence process, combined with our online platform, which gave our lenders instant access to iknowa’s claim information, allowed for a quick and easy advance.
Reflecting on the experience, Allar comments, ‘Between EmpowerRD and the lender, it was incredibly smooth; it also demonstrated to us how great their connection is. It took us just over two weeks to get the advance. When you compare it to a five-month wait with our previous advisor, the difference is obvious!’