By Teun van den Dries, Founder/CEO of GeoPhy
I just read a nice article about PropTech as a new wave in the startup ecosystem. It’s great to see innovation in the property market gaining sufficient momentum to be defined as a distinct classification.
From a founder’s perspective, people (user, partner, investor, etc) generally expect you to have a boilerplate response of about 1–2 sentences that clearly labels you in terms they know and understand. The startup bit is easy, but it becomes less clear after that.
We use ‘Big Data’ because it at least offers an indication of the underlying tech. We add ‘Real Estate’ to make sure that they can make the link to the correct industry, but is usually translated as ‘new site with vacancy listings’ as opposed to what we actually do.
We’ve also tried hitching a ride with the whole FinTech classification, but the property market is not really perceived as a natural fit there. Although we disagree if we look at what we offer our clients, that’s not a struggle we expect to win by ourselves. So PropTech it is.
The great thing about the property industry is that it is so low-tech that anything beyond excel and email is considered innovative. The sheer amount of inefficiency, misinformation and unnecessary intermediaries make it a prime target for disruption (fourth buzzword in one post, apologies…). The tough thing about the property industry is that everyone is pretty entrenched, with a very high resistance to any change.
Most of our fellow PropTech companies focus on a part of the industry (vacancy listings, asset management, leasing management), all of which were generally set up by people from the industry seeing an opportunity to improve a current process. We’re also following a number of companies doing very interesting new stuff, redefining how you get property loans or how you fund development.
Our strategy is more along the lines of the second group than the first, we’d rather push creative destruction instead of incremental improvements. It’s going to be very interesting seeing how the ‘PropTech sector’ evolves.