CRE//TECH INTERSECT New York.
— Pierce R. Neinken (@PR9ken) November 7, 2014
What an amazing day. What an amazing event. For those not familiar this was the fourth event in two years. Two in San Francisco and now two in New York. Take a look at the picture above. It was HUGE.
They announced that over 300 registered and 50 companies presented their products. The event was held at 1133 Avenue of the Americas and hosted by the owners of the building the Durst Organization. Big thanks to those wonder people. The event has from its inception has been driven by the brilliant and ever smiling Pierce R. Neinken. CBRE
Words cannot describe my thanks for the time effort and passion he displays for commercial real estate and tech. He has done all of this on his own time and for absolutely zero dollars. I said ZERO. Thanks Pierce! ( Yes, he is that good-looking in person too!)
Now in the past I have usually come home sat down and just let my mind flow free and put my thoughts down about what I took away from the event.
Believe it or not a couple of people mentioned this to me at the event and suggested that whatever conversations we had should be “confidential and private.” Well, Ok I guess. If that’s what makes you happy. How about just saying nothing at all and walking around with tin foil on your head so that the real humans in the room won’t waste any of your precious time.
Maybe there are people who won’t talk to me because they are being careful about what they might say or might not say and “damage the brand.”
Ok, I get that. Fair enough.
You and I both know why you are reading this….right now!
That’s exactly what you want and SO DO I.
So, let’s let it flow!
I hit New York and jumped right into a Uber car so I could get to the hotel in a clean professional safe environment. UBER!
I had to check in and change quick so that I could get to the sponsors reception being held by SiteCompli at their offices. Another Uber a quick elevator ride and poof. Exposed beams hardwood floors and a bar an open bar with brown liquor. Hmmm now don’t think. I drank water the whole time. Seriously I needed to hydrate and keep a clear head. There were going to be some people I wanted to meet at this thing like..
Thomas Byrne. Mostly know as the former President of Loopnet.
Brandon Weber CEO HighTower. More about his company later.
Ryan Masiello Co-founder View The Space. More about his company later too.
Michelle Roberts CBRE Labs. I think she came with a pirate.
Aviva Fink HighTower. Aviva I know I’m pretty. Quit staring.
David Eisenberg Floored 3D.
The Xceligent Mafia. (wink)
Dominic Zabraskie. CRE Apps Review.
Joseph Stecher Realconnex
Laura Detmer Realconnex.
And many more, you get the idea.
It was packed. It was busy. It was loud. Just like it should have been.
The conversation the smiles the handshakes the “dude where have you been so nice to finally meet you” intros. The “I know I’m better looking in person” comments followed by blank stares. Right back at me. I keep trying.
The event wound down, the conversation started to slow to a quite hum.
We filtered out onto the street and decided that dinner was a must.
Craig, Joshua and I decided to use Joe’s native New Yorker skills to find us a “gem” and man did he deliver. Can you say “MUSSELS ?” The food the service the drinks (I had water) the conversation.
Now while I have this in my head I need to get you up to speed on Real Massive. For some reference Both Josh and Craig graduated from the Air Force Academy. I know what you’re thinking…. #Bromance. Ok, yes there is a little one started. I am an Air Force Vet. Does that make me bias? You decide. Anyway.
If you sit with these guys for more than 10 minutes……. you are like… SHIT!! They are going to do it. They already have 20+ people based in Austin and are starting to expand in most major markets. They have an understanding, opinion, attitude, about what they are doing and where they will fit. They have a world dominating plan for their company. They are on a mission. Yes a mission. Yes that gets me. Deal with it.
By the way. Their tagline. “Commercial Real Estate in Real Time.”
Oh and the have a partner you may be familiar with…
GOOGLE. Yes, I said “GOOGLE.”
You may be like yea…”I have heard this all before. ”
Go ahead…….BLINK. I’m not. They want me to advise. I get asked all the time.
This time I said “YES.”
As the conversation continued at dinner Joe sat back quietly only because of the three Air Force guys dominating the conversation. What we did do though was ask each other a lot of questions.
” Why this product?”
” This is needed why?”
” Explain to me the layers you are talking about.”
Now Joe did jump in and made some very #tech #savant comments.
Then we started in on RealConnex.
Inside outside marketplace users deals usability traction funding alliances.
Now, I remember the one thing Craig Josh and I lit up on and it was the “institutional user.” We kind of looked at each other and had that “moment.’
I think we hit his sweet spot. RealConnex is brilliant. They have a tough road ahead. But, it’s a product that commercial real estate needs.
The night was getting late. Joe headed for the subway. Did I say he was a native? We hit the phones for UBER and headed back to our hotels. We did agree to meet for breakfast to continue the conversations.
The next morning it was pouring rain as I headed down eighth avenue to breakfast. Sitting and looking at the menu I noticed a bowl of cereal for $9. Welcome to New York. I decided on the smoothie. Damn I’m healthy. Fat but healthy.
Craig Josh and I drilled down a bit more about Real Massive. Now at this point I need to talk about transparency. They told me mostly EVERYTHING. Am I going to tell you everything they told me? Well, not really. If you want to find out ask them yourself. My point is this. The were open honest and trying to help me understand what Real Massive is can be hopes to and will be. Why hide it? What’s the point?
Do you think you have something better? Go for it. Jump right in. It’s called execution. There are two of them. They are relentless. They are driven. They are focused. They are ( yes I’m going to say it) on a mission.
We finished up. I picked up the check (a once in a lifetime move?) and we headed out. I hit the Uber button and sent a quick email to Ryan at View The Space to let him know I was on my way.
I arrived hit the elevator button and rode up. The doors opened and I see this.
Ryan popped out of one of the conference rooms and shook my hand. He said that he needed a minute to finish up his meeting and did I need anything from the “bar.” I mentioned water (it’s a theme people) so he walked over and poured me a fresh glass. I wandered over to the lounge area and checked my phone for messages.
Ryan finished up and gave me a quick tour of the space and pointed out what people were doing in specific areas. We then went into one of the glassed conference rooms and he started a demo.
Now I need to give you a little reference. Nick Romito (my boy) and Ryan have been friends since they were ten years old. Yea that long. So, I think they are comfortable with each others “skill set.” Hmmm two co-founders that play off each other. Sounds familiar.
Now I have met and hung around Nick a few times and remember when it was him Ryan and a couple of people. (Nick, we will always have Phoenix.) Ryan and I have exchanged a few emails but had not actually met in person.
As he cued up the screen he went into a bit of history of how they have evolved as a company. Now Nick has kept me updated generally and Ryan then wanted to show me where they are today and where they are going.
Uh…I need to step back here for a minute.( Oh as a personal side I put just a little extra product in my hair just in case I needed to feel as if I fit in)( Oh and that is a total inside joke that the “pirates” get) I think that generally most people may think of VTS as a company that does video of the inside of a office building and then posts it on their platform for everyone to see. Now that may have been what it was when it started. If you think that’s all they do you need to take another look.
Ryan started into his presentation and I was mesmerized quiet and attentive. Three things I never do. I think at one point I actually consciously tried to make sure my mouth did not open up in awe. ( Hey Nick. Holy Shit is Ryan ON!) What they are doing now and what the have planned is jaw dropping. Ryan paused and asked a few questions and I had a couple for him. I needed to make sure I got the context. After he finished he showed me some white board mock ups of future “stuff.” He also introduced me to his lead product person. I gushed about what I saw and I think he smiled in the ” thanks for liking my work dude” kind of way. We shook hands and I told Ryan that I had another meeting to get to and headed for the elevator.
Everyone says to me that they want my opinion about what companies like VTS are doing. Ok, here it is. They are the thoroughbreads. They were born for this. It’s natural. Maybe it did not appear at the beginning they were that way from the start but now you can see it. It’s a thing of beauty. You can’t turn away. You want to watch the pure brilliance the grace the gifts the execution.
Right this very minute I am having buyers remorse. SHIT! I didn’t get in a seed round with VTS. Nick was staring me right in the face. Fuck! I’m going to regret that.
I hit the street and looked for the Uber car. I sent an email to Aviva letting her know I’m on my way. Somewhere down toward the Flatiron district the car pulls up and I open the single door and walk up the steps. On the left half way up is a door. I grab the handle and it open into the offices of HighTower.
The first thing I see is the smiling face of Brandon Weber the CEO. He is a tall dude and reaches to shake my hand. Aviva stands and with a huge smile reaches to shake my hand. They welcome me and give me a quick tour. The office is a little cramped because they are busting at the seams. It’s called growth. Brandon introduces me to most of the team. They are all jeans t-shirts and bright eyes.
One of them asks me a question about “the bubble” the tech bubble that they are in and what do I think about how it relates to commercial real estate. I think for a minute and tell him that he needs to not think that the people in commercial real estate are not watching what they are doing. They are watching a lot more closely than he may ever think. HighTower customers want them to win. They want them to make commercial real estate better. I let him know that he has support from all parts of commercial real estate. I also tell him that I am HighTowers biggest cheerleader and if there was or is ever anything I can do to help. An email intro a post a phone call or whatever. I will do it no questions asked. At that moment I realised that the entire team was standing around and listening.
It was then that I felt a vibe a real vibe.
They sensed that I really cared. I cared that they were working all hours of the night and day and I appreciated them. I appreciated what they as a collective “team” were trying to do. I appreciated the daunting task that they had in front of them. They knew it was a no bullshit moment. That’s called Heart and Soul.
It got deeper for me later that night.
Just click on this I’m Donald you don’t need any context.
This was awesome too.
— Gregg Meyer (@GreggMyr) November 6, 2014
Brandon and I went upstairs and had a quick conversation. He had been on the road. They all are all the time. I let him know I appreciated his time and hoped to further the relationship. He flashed that big smile and patted me on the shoulder as we walked down the steps to the front door.
Now this may hurt. Not you but me.
I know what both VTS and HighTower are doing. It’s similar in a way. I know that they both can convince me that they are going about solving a problem in different ways. And they are. BUT.
I think at some point they make “compete” with each other.
And that’s what hurts. I won’t be able to watch. It’s going to kill me inside.
GOD…. please make room for both of these companies. Please!
They are both too amazing to not succeed.
At some point I will have to look both Nick and Brandon in the eyes. It’s going to kill me ….inside.
I stand close to the wall next to the door. It’s still raining. A phone call to confirm a meeting and a little side excursion for this.
I hit the phone again for Uber. I need to get back uptown to the event location. It’s going to start and I have been invited to get in just a little early so that I can talk to some of the companies. On the way up 6th avenue I am stuck in traffic. I think there is some kind of bus wreck or something. The driver is friendly and proceeds to give me a “presentation” on why Uber is the best thing ever in the world since ever. Of course I agree and I throw him a little something. I tell him that Uber is now becoming a verb. Uber this Uber that. He likes that and says he’s going to use that in the future.
I finally arrive and go up thru the dock back door. (symbolism?)
The space is wide open and clean. There are tables are being set up everywhere and the food and drink tables are already set up.
I start to wander around and check out who is up and ready. As it so happens I see my “buddies” the Xceligent Mafia so I stroll on up. Right off I comment on Doug Curry’s wonderful goatee. He mentions that he would prefer to have the long floppy hair and unkept beard of a young man standing a few yards away wearing skinny pants and a shirt that looks like it’s never been washed. Hey,who are we to judge? Standing next to me is Michael Griffin and he smiles and gives me a look. Now believe it or not I actually had a moment with Doug.
He actually said that Xceligent is working on an API. Yea, that’s what I said “API”
I almost fell over. I actually wrote about this specifically a couple of years ago so that Doug would WAKE UP and SEE THE BRILLIANCE of why he needs to do this.
It Makes His Data More Valuable. Think Google!
He kind of looked at me like I was an alien and I looked at Michael and he glanced back at me reassuringly as if to say. “I got this.”
Now Doug. Here we are again. Open raw and in the public eye.
LET ME HELP YOU.
WAIT! LET “US” HELP YOU. I have a fair idea of what this takes. It’s not as easy as pushing a couple of buttons and a line or two of code.
Doug. Think about who might use the API. Let them help you do it.
Let them help you do it FOR FREE.
They want it they need it. You want it you need it.
So the words OPEN SOURCE mean just that OPEN and SOURCE.
There are some brilliant people out there. Let them DO IT FOR YOU!
I walked away to see who else I could talk to. There were so many.
How about some quick comments?
Property Capsule: Alex you is and are the man. I had a fantastic conversation with your “engineer.” HOLY SHIT! I have one word for you Alex. TEAM.
WiredScore: Love this and impressive pitch.
Valuate: Too good to not click and check out. You will be sorry if you don’t.
Reonomy: Impressed. I have a follow-up call with one of the founders. Digging deeper.
Robin: Met the CEO. Kinda. He has a twin. Two CEO’s? It’s a plan. If you don’t get this. Wake the hell up. Workplace environment stuff and then some.
Resimodel: Nailing Multi-family data and valuation.
RENTALVALUE: Ok first. I met Christophe in Boston. He flew all the way in from Europe. He is one unique individual and that is a beautiful thing. Tagline: “It’s Time For Bold Moves. Click on the site and watch. You won’t believe it!
PropertyFuse: Tearing it up on the east coast.
PiviotDesk: Met the CEO and take the time to read his stuff. He’s pouring his heart out for all to see. Transparency people. Hey Alex I am THE MAN!
OfficeSpace: Bitch about Loopnet. Don’t even look for anything else. Oh wait WOW yea that’s what I said.
FastOffice:I got the full demo last week. Drag and drop. Mobile. Full visual animation and cost analysis. They need to get some alliances.
RealConnex: Yes I know I talked about this before but I met Laura Detmer. She is the product manager for RealConnex. WOW! Now I really want to help them. She needs to get out there more. She is impressive smart and brilliant.
Look what Floored did just for the event.
It’s a 3D model of the entire Event Space! How Cool Is That!
And the prize for the most positive BUZZ from the event goes to:
APTO: This is some serious Commercial real estate CRM.
The panel was fabulous and moderated by Tom Byrne.
— CRE//Tech Intersect (@CRETechIntersec) November 7, 2014
The event started to thin out. It was after nine and a piece of paper was passed around indicating the location for an after party. I hooked up with my new buddies from Real Massive. We walked back thru Times Square to their hotel to drop off their stuff.( I swear I got felt up by the Elmo mascot)
A hit on the Uber button and we were off. Duck breast, chicken some other kind of meat sliders and free drinks awaited. Of course it was packed. We had a section upstairs all to ourselves. The conversation flowed. The booze flowed. I DRANK WATER. The joke was that “my persona” was the one that drank. I thought that was hilarious along with my oversized ego.
The evening wore on and finally we were asked to finish up because they were closing the place. I just managed another Uber back to my hotel in time to take a shower and head to the airport.
I sit here in the airport with the masses waiting to board taking notes.
One thing keeps coming to mind.
Til the next one……
CRE//TECH INTERSECT New York. I Get Way To Personal.