Knowing Your Place: Top 4 Tips for PropTech startups
Every industry sector on the planet today – be it finance, health, agriculture, whatever – is learning how to operate in a digital world. The property / real estate sector is no different, even though sometimes we may think we are.
Those of us who work in this industry, which is based on tangible assets, have perhaps struggled more than others to get our heads around the intangible aspects of the digital world that we live in.
After more than a decade of technological changes that enable the property industry to operate more effectively in this digital world, PropTech – as a viable and innovative industry sector of its own – is undeniable.
As just one of the emerging companies working to improve the technological capability of the property industry, I am not ashamed to say that Forsite has experienced some sharp learning curves along our journey – and a key learning point has been the value of collaboration.
We have always sought out like-minded partners with whom we can align our product to ultimately build more effective systems for property management that put people at the centre. We firmly believe that by learning from each other, we can empower this industry together, for the betterment of all. In that spirit, we are open about sharing our learning experiences, particularly as a PropTech company that recently graduated from ‘start-up’ to ‘scale up’.
So, for those PropTech startups who are only just beginning their journeys, here are our top tips, gleaned from our experiences on what you need to succeed.
1. Know your audience
When it comes to engaging with property owners, you will find their approaches to business lie across a very broad spectrum, ranging from the traditional to the innovative.
Traditional owners tend to be highly risk averse and look for predictable returns, so are generally less likely to adopt technological change to seek an advantage over competitors. Innovators, on the other hand, are constantly looking for new products, as they want to grow quickly. They are very willing to adopt change and are OK about new methods failing, as long as they fail fast and learn from the results.
Prospective clients for PropTech startups exist all along this spectrum, so it is crucial for a startup’s success to understand what segment of this market you are looking to target and communicate or tailor your product appropriately.
2. Know your proposition
It might seem like an obvious point to make, but it vitally important to have a crystal-clear understanding of how your product relates to the property industry, and what genuine need it is meeting.
Start by asking yourself the following three questions:
What specific problem or opportunity does our product address?
What specific sectors of the property industry are affected by this problem? (eg. industrial, office/retail, residential, public sector, etc.)
Does our product address a core function of property management, or is it a ‘luxury’ item?
By answering these questions honestly before approaching the market, you will be able to best articulate clear points of difference from your competitors and, ideally, secure a competitive advantage that separates you from other solutions.
3. Know your customers’ needs (and put them first!)
A key measure of success for any PropTech company can be derived from the level of advantage or satisfaction that a customer gains when using their product.
Throughout the product development cycle, it is important to constantly communicate with your customers and adapt your product to their needs, not the other way around. Doing so will enable you to provide a customer-centric experience at every stage of the journey and allow for fast course corrections that will save time and cost as you evolve your product.
Some great examples of tech companies that do this well include Slack, Seat Geek and HubSpot, which have all achieved significant growth by following this model. PropTech startups are wise to adopt a similar model.
4. Know the value of collaboration
As noted above, the key to Forsite’s success came through collaboration. In doing this we gained exposure and opportunities to work with a wider variety of other Saas and PropTech companies, which ultimately connected us with high enterprise clients.
There are myriad opportunities for collaboration within the PropTech space for startups as it is currently comprised mostly of specialised providers.
Such an environment is ripe with potential for startups to combine their knowledge and services, therefore allowing them to target larger enterprises that are looking for complete PropTech solutions.
There is nothing more exciting to us at Forsite than to hear about the growth of the PropTech sector and see so many new companies emerging with fresh innovations and ideas for further empowering the industry.
As more of these innovations are released into the market, the cumulative result will be a stronger property sector that will be resilient as it continues to move with the times and builds a better, more successful industry overall.
At Forsite, we’re working hard to bring that vision into reality. Are you?
Simon Yock – Forsite CEO
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