Students looking to break into the PropTech space, this is where we see the most opportunity in 2021.
In January I had the pleasure of talking on a panel as part of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management's Property conference to discuss "Pioneering the Future of PropTech”. Alongside others from the industry such as Zander Geronimos from MetaProp, Zach Aarons from MetaProp and Damian Langere from Domuso Inc. and Gelt Inc we spoke about the shift in recruiting efforts and the prosperous opportunities PropTech has to offer.
With a generation of tech addicts, and as we accelerate into an age where technology grants us instant access to anything we need at the touch of a fingerprint or recognition of facial features, students should seek to take advantage of this opportunity to reconfigure the Real Estate industry.
Real Estate is not known for willingly embracing change, but the industry is being hit by a wave of new innovation, ambitious investment and buzzing entrepreneurs which could see those archaic attitudes being demolished and a new ethos being constructed in its place.
As recruiters we have been reviewing what both startups and well-established Real Estate / Tech companies are looking for in their candidates, especially in regard to the unique environment we are in today. The types of talent and skills needed varies between all businesses and Covid has led to a big push in hiring in this sector and general hiring across all roles as companies have had to revisit their headcount. This unique environment has not got a standard entry route for talent which is hopeful for those coming from outside the sector at this time.
To give you an example, Oxford Properties hired their Senior Vice President of Technology, Kim Lewis from the banking sector. Another good example is Blackstone EQ Office who hired their Vice President of Technology, Mikki Ward from Northwest Hardwoods, North America’s largest hardwood lumber manufacturer.
We have seen that the big Real Estate landlords, developers and funds are looking for a lot more technical talent to help them on their journey to digitalisation. They already have the knowledge and understanding of what problems they need to solve and business expertise however, how to solve it is another issue in itself.
As a result causing an increase in hires of CTO’s, CIO’s, Heads of innovation, Transformation Managers, Data Scientists and Solution Engineers to name a few.
There is still an unspoken culture among some companies and indeed start-ups, more so in the US than in the UK/Europe which leans on the importance of where someone went to university. Companies need to work harder to look past this and focus on the successes someone has had in their career rather than their educational background. You can have a degree from Stanford and not know anything about how to lead Sales, Marketing or Operations at a start-up. A lot more people, and especially since Covid struck, are not applying to university and instead are doing courses or apprenticeships which are readily available and are far more inexpensive then then having a huge debt built up from university.
When applying for a job, I think an important thing a student should look at first is what area of PropTech their passions align to. For example if they join a start up they need to be passionate about the product - whether that be internet connectivity, 3D imagery for construction or tenant experience. Or if your interest is directed towards VC, ensure you have a value add and understand about the stage and vertical the VC is investing in, as the propTech VC’s Metaprop, A/O, Fifth Wall, Concrete, PropTech 1 all invest at different points.
Remember though, PropTech isn’t just a term reserved for start-ups – the large consultancies, agencies, funds and large Tech companies like Amazon, Uber, Microsoft are all beginning to dip their toes into PropTech and there are more and more opportunities arising in and across this space.
The growing relevance and importance in sustainability and our climate makes both very desirable Tech routes to go down and I would highly recommend keeping an eye on. There will be a continual growth of investment and uptake here as it has key ethical and economical outcomes which should make it an attractive space to go into.
Another emerging sector is senior living, as people are living longer and spending lot more time at home so therefore are looking for alternative living i.e. Common – which is a modern form of communal living in which residents get a private bedroom in a furnished home with shared common areas. Within these companies we will see a lot more operational roles available too.
If you are looking to get further qualifications or challenge yourself there are some really valuable courses which are available such as Antony Slumber’s ‘Real Innovation Academy’ and Property Quants ‘Applying Data Science & Machine Learning to Real Estate' course which are a great place to pick up industry credentials.
As the PropTech industry develops the stereotype of Real Estate being a slow archaic industry is changing Investment from VC’S like Metaprop, which in result causes a fresh wave of people and updated insights and opinions.
MBA students from top universities and schools and people from other Tech sectors are seeing the opportunity, growth and challenge of this new way of reimagining Real Estate causing a movement of people.
In summary there are plenty of new roles being created and businesses universally are looking for people who think creatively, have a unique value add, a good attitude and work ethic.
Should you be interested in moving into PropTech from another sector or are a university student hoping to break into the space then give us a call at LMRE. We are happy to give advice on all the opportunities we have and can chat through what roles there are at the moment and can introduce you to a specialist consultant who can chat through next steps.
By Louisa Dickins, Co- Founder