NYC Real Estate Tech Week is wrapping up, and what a week it's been. Close to 3,000 attendees and 200 tech startups packed into numerous conferences, panels, expos, and networking events across the city. It's an impressive consortium as is, and given how much the industry is poised to grow over the next 12 months, 2019 should be even more impressive. It has been called the "Davos of Real Estate Tech" after all.
Yes it's a jam packed week, but survival tactics aside, it must be stated that the content was truly impressive. From Propmodo's Technology and Collaboration in the Built Environment event on Monday, to Blackstone's invite-only Innovations opening event, MetaProp's MIPIM PropTech event on Tuesday, NYU's Schack Institute of Real Estate PropTech panel on Wednesday, and more – we got a taste of it all.
Now for the takeaways... here are the top things I picked up on during this week of #content:
The Tenant is Front and Center
Tech has changed the way people work, play, and live. These implications are hitting real estate hard and forcing the largest asset class in the world to reassess how they serve their end user: tenants and their employees. As with any industry going through tech transformation, a lot of the R&D and vetting of technology is figuring out what is necessary to implement right now vs. what will actually impact their bottom-line moving forward.
And, for real estate in particular – landlords have moved into the phase where they are seeking out technology that goes beyond just making their operations more efficient. They want to invest in technology that drives new revenue and increases asset value. It's clear that tenant-facing technology is on the radar of landlords as a way to achieve just that. Let's take a look at a few of the various panels, exhibitors, and session topics that approached this tech opportunity.
On Monday, Propmodo tackled this opportunity by bringing together a handful of players in the tenant experience space on various ends of the technology & service spectrum – Convene, Hello Alfred, and Bixby. Our CEO Chase Garbarino represented HqO and engaged in an interesting debate on many tangential topics that touch TeX strategies, such as what drives value, the role of data, and how to advise landlords on optimizing a blend of tech & services.
The big takeaway, which HqO (and our approach) is entirely in agreement with, is that you can't implement & collect tech for tech's sake, services for services' sake, and data for data's sake. There needs to be clear goals and actions around the implementation and collection of both, and they need to fall in line with the higher-level strategy and brand of the property in order to drive value and make real change at the portfolio level. This space is still young, but as it matures (and make no mistake about it, it's maturing rapidly), the value will be immense. Landlords must have the discussions with the various players on the tech & services side of things, and consider what each player could mean for their portfolio, their asset value, and their brand – now & in the future. Regardless, landlords seem to realize that they need to get onboard the TeX train ASAP.
On Tuesday, we heard a lot of the same message at MIPIM's PropTech event. Commercial Observer wrote a piece recapping many of the sessions and touched on the TeX proptech play at hand:
In the afternoon keynote by Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, we were delighted to hear how HqO and tenant experience technology has positively impacted our client and a part of their portfolio – the Innovation and Design Building in Boston.
Phillips, and Jamestown as a whole, have a strong belief that testing and rolling out products, even on a limited basis, will have a positive impact on the industry as a whole. Phillips continues to lead the industry on forward-thinking approaches to CRE and how to incorporate technology to drive value. This slide of all their proptech partners is evidence of that:
Capitalization Flourishes, R&D Matures
Two sessions on Tuesday were really compelling - the first looked at the various models for raising capital in RE right now: venture capital and corporate venture, and explored the alternative investment opportunities with Clelia Peters of MetaProp, David Gerster of JLL Spark, Sean Muellers of Blackstone, and Samuli Siren of Redstone Digital GmbH. With billions of dollars flowing into proptech, this panel covered what should emerging startups consider, when possible, in determining their own venture and fundraising strategy.
Panelists shared insights into the why behind their investments – for instance, JLL Spark is especially interested in tenant-facing tech given their strong consumer backgrounds, and luckily for us, they feel confident that every building will incorporate an app as an interface for tenants in the future. Blackstone is interested in making investments in technology that serve many functions, efficiencies for their corporate arm and overall operations as well as overall tenant experience at the property level, all of which makes sense but was affirming to hear from these industry behemoths.
I also really enjoyed the panel of proptech founders on their own journeys raising and scaling. It covered a wide range of proptech startup stages and all of the founders had their own unique and valuable nuggets of advice and insightful experiences. Organic growth, strategic investments, and channel partnerships were all part of the discussion and all panelists contributed – special hat tip to Nick Romito of VTS, Jessica Beck of Hello Alfred, Matt Ellis of Measurabl, Amol Sarva of Knotel, and Guy Zipori of Skyline AI.
Finally, a congrats are in order to Jim Pettit of Navitas Capital, who won Top Investor in the Global Proptech Awards! We're (obviously) huge fans of the Navitas Capital team.
It's all happening
To wrap it all up, one of the biggest takeaways gleaned from the past week: it's all happening. More and more people in CRE are getting involved in tech and the turnout & conversations at this event is a prime example. Tech is no longer a future-looking concept in real estate, it's a real discussion point, a purchasing decision, and a 2019 line item on every CRE budget. It's great to see how important a role that conferences like this are playing in educating and guiding real estate executives in these important moves over the next months, years, and beyond.
Prediction: it will be really powerful to revisit the topics covered in 2018 and look at the learnings, results and value we can share and discuss in 2019. I'm clearly already looking forward to next year! Thanks to MetaProp, MIPIM, Propmodo, Blackstone and others for organizing.