Mark Witherspoon GBuilder

GBuilder solves home design headache, says proptech pioneer

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Karl Tomusk

Mark Witherspoon, one of the early promoters of residential tech in the 2000s, has praised Finnish startup GBuilder for “fixing the complexity” of winning over customers by offering exactly what they want in their homes.

Witherspoon, who joined GBuilder as an adviser this month, told PlaceTech  that while offering customers choice often leads to more complexity – and, therefore, added time and costs – the startup caught his attention by simplifying the customer journey.

GBuilder digitises properties with 3D and VR visualisations, providing a platform where developers can speak to customers and walk them through design choices or preferences.

Traditionally, offering choice in interior design would have been a manual, paper-based process prone to error, Witherspoon said. Housebuilders might want to offer more choice, but it comes with complications. He said: “I think [GBuilder] fixes the complexity that both the developer and the contractor would face if they were to embrace customer needs.”

Residential data innovator

Witherspoon was one of the pioneers of the automated valuation model market in the UK in the early 2000s, introducing data services that calculate the value of homes using computer modelling.

After launching UKValuation, he went on to serve as CEO of competitor Hometrack. Witherspoon later spent more than nine years at Zoopla, where he was data services director until 2018.

In recent years, he has become a prolific adviser and non-executive director across proptech, with positions at businesses such as TwentyCi, SmartViewing, Flexify and Yourkeys.

Witherspoon said he sees “great potential” in GBuilder in the UK market. Having facilitated the construction of 40,000 homes – largely in Scandinavia and central Europe – GBuilder raised €2m in early 2021 to ramp up its growth in several European markets.

Giving housebuilders a competitive advantage

GBuilder’s BIM-compatible product allows users to configure their space in VR, make material choices, change requests or requirements and communicate with other parties involved in the home’s construction or sale.

By enabling more choice, GBuilder offers a competitive advantage to its users, Witherspoon said. “[Developers] could carry on just building 20 properties that are identical and hope they can find 20 buyers who are quite happy to move in.

“But you then have to challenge the sustainability of that model, because at some point, customers have choice – and they will begin to exercise those choices. It’ll be those developers who are looking around going, why is my business failing?”

Pressure for homes to meet individual needs, especially if people continue working from home, is growing, Witherspoon said, and that will require a personal touch.

“To be able to introduce this notion of choice and making something more personal, more bespoke, as you’re building a home – not just somewhere to live – becomes more and more important,” he said.

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