In their recent blog post, James Dearsley and Eddie Holmes argue that there is a war in the commercial property portal space and that this war is a net negative to the startups in the space. The pair believe the glut of platforms presently in the space will dilute the opportunity for all of them, rendering this cohort subscale and at risk of larger players:

The primary risk for the Startups is that they cannot create a value proposition distinct enough from each other and, even if they reach that point, cannot raise enough money to compete with the budgets of the Establishment or, to a lesser extent, the Challengers.

The Consumer POV

This perspective strikes me as odd because I come from a consumer background — a place the commercial property world has traditionally not played. What we see today however, is that B2B apps and services are borrowing heavily from consumer services because the people who use the B2B apps are the same people who’ve been trained by Tinder to swipe left.

A newsfeed is a newsfeed whether you are reading about a family member’s summer holiday or the activity of your team in Salesforce.

Just as software is eating the world, so too is consumer software eating business software.

So just what does this have to do with the preponderance of commercial property platforms?

It’s About The Category

In a consumer context, the participants in the market need to create a specific behaviour before they can build a big business. There needs to be a category.

Just as Amazon trained us all to buy books online as the on-ramp to buying everything online, so to do we need to instil in companies the reflex to go online to find their next flexi-space.

Until the vast majority of businesses are aware of commercial property platforms and the activity of educating themselves online, none of the players in this market will build a big business.

How We Can Work Togeher

Where Dearsley and Holmes are correct, is that the market does need to work together, but for the purpose of building a big category so we’re all chasing after a much bigger prize rather than fighting over the scraps at the side of the table.

That’s truly a war worth fighting.

End Note

After this was first published on the Property.Works blog, Eddie Holmes responded on Twitter, here. I suspect this discussion will continue on for some time.

Originally published at