Catch #CRETech If You Can.
We all know by now that CRETech is poised to enjoy hyper-growth; after all, the industry just set a record by raising $62 million in the first half of 2015. But before we give ourselves a big pat on the back, let’s look at some comps like a good real estate analyst. Year to date: Bitcoin startups raised $375 million and FINTech as a whole raised over $1 billion, AgTech raised $2 billion, and medical startups raised over $3.9 billion in the second quarter only. But hey, you have to start somewhere.
Now for the good news: There are a lot of CRETech opportunities. Venture capitalists assert that enterprise lags behind consumer tech by roughly three to four years. Given that the consumer is now predominantly using mobile, mobile enterprise should be the next multibillion-dollar frontier. We know this is true because just now we are seeing cloud platforms taking off the way everyone imagined in 1995. In 2015, Zenefits is how you manage your company’s health insurance, Slack is for team communication, and Asana is how you get tasks done.
In the same time period, CRETech adopted technology that came to fruition years before. We now have crowdfunding platforms of our own since Kickstarter was founded in 2009, and pipeline/CRM tools via Highrise and View the Space when the rest of the world is on Salesforce. From this micro data point we can reason that CRETech is approximately four to five years behind enterprise tech. The question becomes, where do we go from here, and how do we catch up?
If venture capitalists are right that the next multibillion-dollar market opportunity is mobile enterprise, then commercial real estate has an opportunity to become a leader. Real estate is about the bricks, and we need to be in the field doing our site tours to make sure we know every nook and cranny of our market. We’re a mobile industry, so let’s innovate in that space, or at least copy what consumer tech has already figured out.
On your site tour, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are carrying a manila folder with deal setups, demographic reports, comps, a smartphone for photo taking, and a GPS directing you to the next location. Meanwhile, if you wanted to find a restaurant, you’d open Yelp, which already has your interest graph and location and gives you relevant suggestions. Come on, there’s got to be a better way.
I shouldn’t have to open LoopNet to manually filter and search. I should get a push notification when a deal meets my criteria and, oh look, I’m only three blocks away. Whatever neighborhood I am in, I automatically pull up the demographics and competing sites. Who owns that building again? Using geo-location, I instantly find out. On site tours, analysts will no longer have to memorize the facts cold and shamefully answer, “I don’t know but I’ll find out for you.” Their CRETech will have already anticipated it.
The mention of Snapchat may make your eyes roll, but to our beloved millennials, it’s a way of life. If there’s one thing to learn from Snapchat, it’s how it reached hyper-growth. When you sign up for Snapchat it asks for permission to access your phone contacts in order to find your friends. That’s incredibly powerful. Imagine how fast Snapchat would grow if it asked you to upload a CSV of everyone you know. I don’t know about you, but my contact list in my phone is over 400 people, split roughly 60/40 between business and personal contacts.
Seeing as how real estate is a who-you-know kind of business, I look forward to a mobile first deal room. In leasing CRE, I already use text messaging as short-form conversation. Why not snap setups, digitally sign LOIs with my index finger, reject proposals with a swipe (that would be a lot of fun), invite contacts to a deal room, get push notifications when a deal status changes, and enjoy that all the while I’m on the road.
For once, CRETech has the opportunity to be a first mover. If CRETech innovates in the mobile enterprise space, it’ll be the next tech darling everyone is trying to catch up to.
LinkedIn Anthony Dominguez