Property + Technology = Proptech
The early success of Airbnb kicked off a marked shift in travel norms from established hotels towards smaller rentals. And finding your perfect home has never been easier thanks to the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla’s price comparison proptech platforms.
But there are still so many more niches to dominate, such as augmented reality home viewings or eco-friendly construction waste management. After all, the world’s biggest asset class is worth upwards of £10 trillion, yet the industry stubbornly sticks to email chains and Excel sheets!
Hence, as more and more businesses turn towards hybrid work environments, there has never been a better time to digitise the real estate market.
Proptech startups to watch out for 🏙️
The lockdown crisis placed a financial burden on us all, but proptech companies are thriving on the cultural shift towards working from home.
Furthermore, with tightening building regulations in an international bid to fight climate change, innovations in materials and environmental performance analytics are adding to political pressure to make housebuilding greener. And this is creating ample opportunities.
Here are some of the hottest proptech forerunners propping up for – or against, depending on one’s perspectives! – students, landlords, brokers and lenders alike.
Notably among promising startups, our student readers anxious about rising house prices may already know of Proportunity. This London-based real estate investor offers first-time buyers with price-linked equity loans – essentially “making an investment in your home”.
“If we give you a loan for 25% of the home’s value, you have to pay back 25% of the home’s value at the point of repayment. This applies whether your home goes up or down in value – we only win if you do.”
“Move in now, buy later.” Another London-based startup disrupting the high street market with their zero-deposit solution.
Although the overall cost marginally increases as opposed to traditional bank mortgages, Keyzy’s rent-to-own scheme allows you to purchase your dream home with limited savings.
What happens when you decide to move midway through your repayments? Not to worry – as long as you purchase your next property from Keyzy, “up to 25% of your payments are converted into reducing the purchase price”.
FOR REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS
This Paris-based match-making platform assists homeowners find appropriate craftsmen in their vicinity. Thanks to their highly qualified network, you can make technical requests through their mobile app for maintenance and structural works.
However, Monga is yet to operate – if ever – in the UK.
Another French startup, this time building visualisation software for urban planning and decision-making.
By collecting demographic, location and mobility data points, they seek to understand how people and traffic behave in urban locations.
Such data is crucial for real estate investors vying for higher returns. Plus, their analytics can help municipalities build more sustainable smart cities in the future.
AI’s role in proptech growth
“Hoovering up useful datasets, like satellite imagery for plot identification, or sifting through reams of planning and zoning laws, could be a new gold rush,” writes Adam Green, contributing editor of startup magazine Sifted.
On the other hand, the pandemic hasn’t been all too forgiving for the iBuying – instant buying – industry. This nascent transaction method provides homeowners with cash within 24 hours of listing via purely data-driven algorithmic valuations.
Unfortunately, all the machine-learning programs in the world couldn’t possibly account for the complexities of forecasting house prices during pandemic downturns.
That being said, it will certainly be interesting to see how this middleman bypassing strategy eventually grows – or collapses – in the rapidly changing real estate market. Due to creeping interest rates, entrepreneurs are seeing capital flocking away from flighty tech stocks, and towards the safest asset class 🏘️.
Students getting their skin in the digitisation game
We spoke to Filip Letovanec, a student entrepreneur looking to redefince office use through immersive AI.
Having worked as a freelance graphic designer and brand planner since his high-school days in Slovakia, Filip graduated from King’s College London’s business management programme this July.
We discussed various areas of interest from his time working as Associate Product Manager at Eviday – a wellbeing and productivity platform for office environments. After shuttering their services last year, Filip and ex-Eviday members are now working on a new stealth proptech venture.
How did you join the team?
I met the founder at UCL at one of those pitching events where people can go pitch their ideas, and there will be other people listening and potentially just networking and stuff like that.
Could you expand upon your initial role as Operations Manager?
When I jumped on board, I helped set up everything operation-wise. Things like setting up schedules, workflows, payrolls and things like that. So really like all these like operational things that needed to be done, just like having the startup running.
In what ways are you translating Eviday’s research into your new venture?
Our founder’s PhD research relates to how people perceive spatial environment in workplaces, and how well it caters to their needs. So put simply, imagine you go to a physical space like your office, and want to know what feels best. We are shifting focus from gut feelings into a scientific research model.
For example, one of the biggest upset in the UK competition market is nobody’s really able to tell the needs of your employees. We need to take into consideration the way that employees think to do their work as productively as possible. Not really what you as a company manager or company’s VP or higher-up thinks personally.