1. Can you describe your background and what has led you to venture into PropTech?
For the last 20+ years, I’ve been working in the B2B events and digital media space.
Most of this time was spent managing product portfolios focusing on tech-driven transformation, where existing industries and incumbent companies were being disrupted by new, hungry innovative young companies that were identifying market gaps and then engineering solutions that could quickly scale.
My goal was to find those companies and provide them with a platform to be heard, to meet customers and investors, and to change the way business was being done.
About 3-4 years ago I got into real estate and the built world space and launched a series of events that were extremely well received, which made me think to myself, hey there’s something interesting going on here.
Being immersed in that world, and being able to observe it from the perspective of vendor, corporate and investor was fascinating. Being able to help PropTech start-ups on their journey was very satisfying.
2. Why did you start FuturePlace and what is the company mission?
I’d just come out of a pretty stressful turn-around project for a large global Events business when Covid-19 hit.
When I thought about what next, there were really only a couple of options that came to mind and one of those was to start my own business.
My experience in the real estate and built world space indicated that there was an opportunity to create something new and different, and after consulting with a few industry people that I knew FuturePlace was born.
Our mission is simple –we exist to connect corporates involved with commercial real estate, i.e. (owners, developers, REITs, AEC) to a global network of companies providing technology and services to drive their innovation and transformation programs.
We’ve developed a global Leadership and Advisory Board which consists of some of the world’s largest PropTech VC Funds as well as major CRE and construction players.
This means we’re sitting at the nexus of technology, capital, and buyers, and through a range of activities, we can intelligently connect the right people/companies to drive deals.
The engine supporting this is our marketing and thought leadership content and events.
3. What are the main challenges facing the Australasian RE Market and what role does PropTech play in addressing these challenges?
Similar to other advanced global real estate markets.
Many of the trends and changes we were seeing around ESG, sustainability have accelerated, and as a result of Covid-19, there is now a massive discussion taking place around the future of work and what this means for office purpose and location.
Given Australia has managed the whole Covid situation better than most, we can be seen as a forerunner of many of the tech adoption trends that will happen in other parts of the world.
Areas such as building occupancy analytics, space utilisation tools, and contactless access control have all played a large role in getting people back into the office and making sure they are safe.
Then you look at the construction sector where there has been a big push around on-site health and safety, collaboration and getting projects done on spec and on time, which brings in AI, robotics, drones, AR/VR, digital twins and building materials.
The future is bright for PropTech and ConTech in Australasia.
4. How can Australasia continue to accelerate as a PropTech hub?
The Australasian PropTech industry has been steadily gathering momentum in recent years.
The biggest challenge PropTech typically faces is a scale and risk aversion. To achieve a real scale they need access to serious capital, and they need to do deals with corporates that see their value and are brave enough to give them a go.
Support in this context has traditionally come via accelerator programs which serve a purpose, but in my opinion, these programs need to be augmented by a more consultative and intelligent “connector” network such as the one being provided by FuturePlace.
We do much of the heavy lifting on behalf of corporate buyers by identifying and brokering “best fit” meetings that have a much greater chance of leading to a transaction.
If we can remove the friction points by being the trusted intermediary, we can provide value on both sides and support market growth.
5. How essential is tech and innovation in helping the Real Estate Industry reach its decarbonisation goals?
I think this represents the greatest disruption and opportunity in Real Estate’s history.
It’s no secret that the built environment has a significant impact on the changing climate we are experiencing.
I believe the building sector contributes to 40% of global carbon emissions which is crazy.
Decarbonisation is going to be top of the agenda for Real Estate for the next 10-20 years.
Want to accelerate your decarbonisation’s efforts and meet your targets, then technology has the answers.
Electrification, use of hydrogen, energy efficiency, and carbon capture, material efficiency, longevity, re-use, material substitution, and recycling, the list goes on and on.
Capital inflows into this area of PropTech are going to be huge – and they will last for a considerable time.
Exciting times ahead!