Entrepreneurship requires certain qualities: the founder story
Entrepreneurship requires certain qualities: vision, determination and resilience. Those are the qualities Vincent Schobbens regularly needed during his career and that led him to where he is today: at the helm of Growners.
A true winner's mindset
In the mid-1990s, when Vincent was still Head of Research at Kredietbank Luxembourg, he took his first steps as an entrepreneur. Right from the start he had a true winning mindset and no effort was too much for him. Encouraged by his family and driven by his love of challenges, he launched Invest SV Placements in 1999. His first real estate transaction was a modest house in Kraainem. As a financial expert, he quickly realised the challenges involved in financing a project. He dealt with that by mapping out innovative solutions provided by the various markets.
While studying at Solvay Business School, Vincent was driven by his strong entrepreneurial spirit and his ambition to push the envelope. Leveraging that mindset, he single-handedly founded SV Patrimonia in 2003, a company focusing on residential real estate.
SV Patrimonia was a success right from the start. By 2007 the company had a team of three employees. An office building happened to end up in his portfolio. This not only marked the start of the transformation into a new niche in the real estate market, but also a diversification for SV Patrimonia. As a result, 2007 saw SV Patrimonia's IPO on Euronext Brussels and a bond issue, resulting in the company being valued at €4.5 million.
But then came the most important challenge in Vincent's career. In 2008, the real estate market was hit hard by the financial crisis. No one was spared. Business came to a standstill and Vincent was forced to slow down.
Thanks to his determination, once again confirming his trademark, he managed to turn things around and save his company from the global crisis. Although the bond market was deeply disrupted, he continued gaining investor confidence and convinced them to extend the maturity of their bond issues (registered in 2007) by four years.
In 2016 Vincent had to cope with the apathy of the free market. Once again, it was his drive to find for innovative solutions that prompted him to resort to crowdlending, enabling him to diversify his financing sources and secure the future of his company.
New name, new ambitions
In 2017, SV Patrimonia changed its name to Growners. The company has some 27 buildings in its portfolio, across 13 locations in Brussels, and has an annual turnover of €38 million.
With a new name come new ambitions and another insatiable desire to shake up the market. Where many choose to rent, Growners wanted to give businesses the opportunity to take ownership of their buildings. The aim is to enable business to strengthen their financial base and continue growing and developing with greater peace of mind. This hitherto unexplored niche is increasingly being explored by the office market. As Growners offers leased office space for sale, it also provides investors with interesting opportunities to diversify their portfolio.
A new mainstay
To successfully carry out this mission, secure the future of the company and ensure professionalism, Vincent decided to look for someone who could support him. He detailed what he was looking for on social media, catching the attention of Éric Bastin, who had been woken early one beautiful Sunday morning by his two-year-old daughter. They two men contacted each other and it turned out they had a lot in common. Not only were they both entrepreneurially minded, but they also had a solid financial background and an extensive knowledge of the real estate world and its network, in which they both wanted to be key players.
After getting to know each other, Eric joined Growners as Managing Partner. Thanks to his similar positions at Dexia and BDO Corporate Finance, he was familiar with the most demanding financial institutions. Today Eric really looks forward to being woken up in the wee hours by his children.
A shared vision
Both leaders share a common vision of the market and the role Growners should play in it. They aim to offer an innovative alternative to the traditional office space segment, transforming what some see as a niche today into an alternative benchmark market.