What property companies don’t want to hear from techies

Alex Edds JLL LiquidThe growing use of, and reliance on, technology by real estate firms is fuelling the explosion of the proptech industry, with a new proptech company seemingly appearing every week. While many of these companies have a good team, a great product, or a compelling and clear proposition, many don’t have all three.

I’m fortunate enough to have met with a wide range of companies, and at last count I’ve heard over a 100 pitches.

As we start 2019, in what is likely to be another stellar year for proptech, I thought I would share my thoughts and feedback from my engagement with this budding industry, which I hope will serve you well for your next big pitch.

Here are my 5 don’ts if you’re a proptech company:

Don’t tell us that our business model is dead

You might believe it so, and some of us might even agree with you, but that isn’t going to endear us to you or your product. For 99% of companies out there, you will need to work with the industry rather than against it. We want products and services that work with us and add value to our business. This means you might need to adjust your value proposition to ensure commercial applicability in the short term – even if you do have grand plans for global dominance in the long term!

Don’t just talk about the tech

Yes your tech might be great, but don’t start your pitch with this. Too often this dominates the presentation and too much time is spent on how not why. Explain how your product and service adds value to us or our client – maybe even offer some well researched scenarios. The tech is of course important, but that’s not what we’re buying (in most cases). If you can show how you add value then we’re more likely to buy it.

Do your homework

Linked to the previous point , you need to understand our business well – research exactly what it is that we do. You need to be clear how your product or service suits our business and how it addresses a real market problem or opportunity. There is rarely a one size fits all solution, so you will need to be flexible and adjust your proposition accordingly. Each company is different (location, culture, systems) and we’re in competitive market too, so we might want you to adjust your product slightly to give us an edge.

Don’t expect me to give you free advice

We understand that you are evolving your business. And yes, we want your product to be fit for purpose so we are happy to provide feedback and guidance, but there must be something in it for us too. Too often I am presented with the tech and then asked how I can use it. You should be open to working in partnerships, maybe even exclusive (with the right terms), if you want to access our knowledge and data to further your product.

Do prepare for the long game

Things can take a long time in large businesses. I have a day job and corporate processes to navigate. Even if we like your product and the value is clear, it isn’t always that simple. You can help us by offering free trials and safe test environments to get things started, but do prepare for things to take time to get scale. I am happy to be challenged and pushed, indeed I expect and want this, but do remember you are not my only priority.

If you get it right and persevere then I can assure you that is it worth it. We are keen to change and are always looking for new ways to differentiate in the market. We will spend money if there is a clear business case, and we like to work with companies and people that complement our business and culture. There is huge potential for change in the real estate industry, and we’re only just starting on that journey. Together.

  • Alex Edds is UK director of innovation at JLL and co-founder of Liquid Real Estate Innovation

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