Rebuilding proptech’s reputation: Top takeaways from a SEC Newgate webinar
With the fall in valuations over the past year and troubles afflicting even the mightiest of tech giants, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last month was the latest event to have shaken the real estate technology – proptech – sector.
The rise and proliferation of the unicorns (start-ups valued at a billion dollars or more) seems to have come to a halt and some are wondering whether the business cases behind these companies were, in fact, as mythical as the creature from which they take their name.
In that context – and with less than two weeks to go to CREtech London, Europe’s leading conference for innovation in real estate and to which SEC Newgate UK is proud media relations partner – we hosted a panel alongside some of the world’s top venture capital firms looking at how proptech can rebuild its reputation, earn trust among customers and stakeholders while avoiding reputational risks, and how firms can stand out in a crowded market.
Some of our top takeaways on the reputation front:
1. Yes, the market is challenging. But proptech remains compelling among investors who recognise its potential in doing more for less, better. How a firm positions itself and speaks to its market is invaluable.
2. Proptech should(!) ace the ESG conversation. With relatively low operational emissions, its solutions also help real estate tackle its climate crisis (40% of carbon emissions from the built environment, etc). Firms should be speaking from positions of authority (without hubris) and playing a bigger part in the industry conversation…
3. …but we’re unconvinced it’s all plain sailing. Particularly on the social and corporate governance elements of ESG, proptech firms need to consider what they’re doing. Proptech firms that offer solutions to health and wellbeing, improved delivery of housing (particularly affordable housing), and other areas could do extraordinarily well. However, start-ups in whatever industry always risk growing without scaling – and run the risk of failing to bring employees and governance structures along in their vision (or, worse, becoming a toxic place to work).
4. Proptech is becoming increasingly mainstream – that’s an opportunity, but it’s one that needs to be grabbed. We’re seeing this via an increase in big names coming to the likes of CREtech London as well as the merger of the British Property Federation and the UK PropTech Association (UKPA). Proptech firms need to maintain the momentum, ensuring progress progresses, and treating itself much more as part of the industry.
5. A charismatic founder – as is the stereotype among many tech firms – is helpful. But people don’t invest in founders: they invest in teams and they invest in products. There are few greater risks to your reputation than relying on one individual – and few greater communications opportunities than working with a strong, stable and happy team.
6. There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic. The future is bright! And with progressive firms like Pi Labs and JLL Spark, our co-panellists on the webinar, nurturing the next generation, we’re going to see a lot of exciting new products and services launch.
A big thank you to everyone who joined the webinar from across the globe – and, in particular Hugo Silva from Pi Labs and Sean Wright from JLL Spark Global Ventures who provided their brilliant insights along with us.
Thanks also to the team at CREtech for co-hosting the webinar with us. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation at CREtech London on 10-11 May.
For the full recording of Tuesday's webinar, click here.