Recently, the Rentr, CheckDocs and Technology Blueprint Ltd teams were fortunate enough to be part of FUTURE: PropTech 2016 – a great event hosted in London. The title says ‘Future’ however, the one thing the event might need is a rebrand and I propose that ‘Right Now: PropTech 2016’ would be more fitting.
The event started off by summarising where we are now. There was great discussion around partnerships, risks and relationships between corporates and the established big players in the property sector. Not to mention the new wave of tech startups making more than just ripples with much needed new ways of thinking. Hot topics included collaboration, transparency and choice across all aspects of the property market.
The sessions varied from the frontiers of big data and blockchain to the practicalities of improving core property services through improved technology – especially mobile.
It was great to see what other people are doing, I enjoyed watching the investment track and amazing startups pitching for seed funding who could be found in the popular sponsors area where visitors could see the array of leading tech products that were on display.
It is great to see a huge shift over the past year or so, originally my takeaway from this new era of PropTech was that it was all about disruption, twelve or so months later the majority of what I can see is now collaboration.
We have just been through what will be looked back upon as a pivotal year for our industry.
There has been huge increases in investment for new businesses, and a mental shift in the established corporations as the realisation dawns that now is the time to adapt to the needs and expectations of the coming generations.
Transparency, flexibility and the accessibility of toolsets and data that has come out of Silicon Valley giants like Google are becoming part of the landscape of everyday life – and while corporate investments stick more to established newcomers rather than true startups at the moment, it is becoming ever apparent that the status quo is over. The best bit: everyone is starting to recognise that this can only be a good thing.
This shift is still happening, it’s by no means over and the assembled delegates still seemed split between investors, corporate incumbents and startups/entrepreneurs. The demands from the different members, however, were the same as ever.
The investor camp calls for consolidation, proof, case studies and the stabilisation of this varied new PropTech ecosystem into some strong and fast collaborations time and time again. Now that the boom in new businesses and new ideas has brought the PropTech market to the forefront, as well as bringing an injection of money from the industry, phase two is getting warmed up. This is when serious money from the financial powerhouses starts to come to the surface and we will see huge growth in the field.
Massive scale investors are circling, looking at what the trends are and who will be in the position to integrate the changes and provide the backbone for the wider PropTech space.
As for the entrepreneurs, there was a vibe of excitement. They have created something special but there’s still a side of apprehension and in all this growth there’s a type of property that is possibly more valuable than the bricks and mortar the market is based around. We live in a new era where the world’s largest taxi firm Uber, doesn’t own a car, the world’s largest ‘hotel chain’, AirBnB, doesn’t own a house, from what I have witnessed in recent times it is considered that intellectual property is the new property boom which isn’t predicted to crash. The entrepreneurs are at the events working out whether the rest of the room – from corporates and investors to other startups are competitors or allies. Watch this space.
Are the big corporates worrying about being ‘Ubered’ by the new kids on the block? Are the startups worried about being overshadowed by high spending corporations ‘borrowing’ their ideas or worse, being IP stripped and left in the gutter? These were the underlying questions of the day.
It might not sound it, but I have to reiterate, that the underlying tones were assured and upbeat. There was a certain ‘calm before the storm’ feeling, that feeling when you were hosting a party as a student and people were just starting to arrive but you knew the real fun was just around the corner. Some people reading this will know the word PropTech, for some it will (up to here) have been the first eight times that they will have read it, but rest assured, a couple of years from now, it could be getting thrown around like ‘Wearables’ and ‘MedTech’ without a second thought.
People came to FUTURE: PropTech 2016 looking for the state of the art in UK property technology and it certainly looked like a scene that is worth keeping an eager eye on as the early ideas mature into the behemoths of tomorrow.
he best of the day’s sessions were those that focussed either on the inner dynamics of this new scene – which had London very much at its heart – or those that focused on the external perspective of the users and the consumers. These are the everyday people that expect greater control and fresh standards of speed, facility, transparency and utility in their service levels.
This was an event of the future, but it is no longer a concept. The future is happening now, I for one cannot wait to see how we buy, sell, rent and manage property and urban spaces over the coming years.