The financial services industry is facing a wave of digital disruption that has the potential to fundamentally reshape the sector. The disruptors have even earned their own nom de geurre - FinTech.
Now the disruptors have turned their attention to property and it could fundamentally change the way the industry operates.
Most technology investments in the property sector to date have been focussed on B2C products that provide platforms for marketing - like REAGroup (owner of realestate.com.au). With this market becoming increasingly competitive and saturated, start-ups have turned their attention to providing B2B solutions.
ecent report in the Financial Times showed investors worldwide put a record $1.4 billion into real estate tech start-ups in 2014. Most of this ($950 million) was invested in the US; the next-largest investments were made in India, China and Europe, of which nearly three-quarters was in the UK.
The new breed of property tech is about disrupting the way property companies deal with each other.
An indication of the growing enthusiasm around the sector was the launch last year of a
PiLabs - Europe’s first proptech accelerator. The company has so far invested in and graduated 10 proptech companies.
Pi Labs was founded to become the centre of the property innovation ecosystem with the vision to identify, mentor, invest in and accelerate high-calibre startup ventures who have the passion and ability to create scalable businesses that will disrupt the property industry. The company was founded by London real estate entrepreneur Faisal Butt.
"Over the next couple of years we will be expanding our platform, increasing the number of investments and driving innovation in the property industry through our accelerator programme and events," he said.
Juliette Morgan, who until last year was head of property at Tech City UK but now heads up PiLabs, told the FT the urge to innovate is largely being driven by individuals who have been profoundly frustrated by the slow, old-fashioned ways of working they have encountered among property companies.
Here are some of the hottest property technology companies in the world right now:
Aims to help developers to find land in the UK, identify its current owner, carry out a valuation and compare with other nearby plots.
"Property technology is a very interesting space, as it is not as advanced as many other sectors, yet it affects the lives of each of us," the company's founder Jonny Britton said.
"New housing supply coming to the market is at drastically low levels which means prices are climbing at record rates. Among a wide range of ways technology has started to effect property (such as sharing bills, letting out your spare room, communicating more easily with tenants), our mission is to help expose new sites with the potential for housing to property developers, in a faster and cheaper way."
OfficeR&D is a management platform for coworking spaces, serviced offices and business centres. It enables office managers to handle all critical processes of the space in a very visual and intuitive way.
"OfficeR&D offloads the boring tasks from the office and community managers, so they can focus on building community and making everyone in the office happier, healthier and more productive," the company says.
Jooxter has developed a smart device that addresses a common challenge for large organisations: under-utilised office space. The company's Jooxter Connect technology offers a smart device that helps buildings analyse, understand and optimise the location and movement of occupants, creating smart buildings that are attentive to occupants' needs.
Jooxter’s devices also include an intelligent wayfinding technology, which communicates directly with people through their smartphones to guide them to the room they have been allocated.
Jooxter’s smart devices use Bluetooth, a short-range wireless data connection, to communicate with Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets. This connection enables Jooxter’s devices to understand the location and movement of a building’s occupants, while the company’s room allocation software analyses and optimises the utilisation of office space in real-time.
Turns unused space in shopping malls into changing rooms where shoppers can try on clothes that were bought online and pre-delivered — and send them back if they don’t fit.
A wilderoom is essentially a private, luxury changing room, where you can try on items that you have chosen online from any fashion shop or brand, using the WildeRooms buttonYou can view and organise your online clothing selection on wilderooms.com. Share with friends to get their advice, or ask the Wilde Rooms Stylists for more ideas.
When you are ready, move the items you'd like to try into your WildeRoom selection. Choose a date and time to visit a WildeRoom. Once you've decided on the clothes you want to buy, you just pay for those items, plus a service charge. They'll return everything else.