15.3.21

The Propcast: Unhidden Truths of PropTech in Asia

In this episode the Propcast talks to Jordan Kostelac from JLL Asia and Helen Lam from Lendlease about the unhidden truths of working in PropTech Asia. 

Click here to listen to this episode and check out a sneak preview of our chat below!

The Propcast is by Louisa Dickins, co-founder of LMRE the leading Global PropTech recruiter brought to you in partnership with CREtech and ReimTech. This show will focus on connecting the Proptechs, real estate funds and VC’s globally…and get everyone talking about innovation of the build to rent environment.

15.3.21

About Our Guests

Jordan Kostelac

 https://www.linkedin.com/in/jkostelac/?originalSubdomain=hk 

As JLL’s director for Proptech in the Asia Pacific, Jordan has been tasked with driving technical innovation within the firm and for their clients. He is also concurrently the co-founder and creative lead for home-grown cider brand NEONOTIC! and a founding partner of HK Walls, a non-profit arts organisation that aims to create opportunities for local and international artists which is best known for its annual street art festival held during Hong Kong’s art month each March. In Jordan’s mind, JLL’s path towards becoming a technology firm specialising in real estate must start with becoming an advisory firm first. 

Helen Lam

https://www.linkedin.com/in/helenlam8/?originalSubdomain=sg 

Helen has over 19 years experience in property and development environments in Asia and Australia including 15 years in Commercial & Retail Property Management, Investment and Mixed-use/Urban Regeneration projects across Asia Pacific Regions. Helen has been in Asia for over 9 years in various senior roles leading highly successful transformation projects, developments, acquisitions, strategic management, and commercial projects. Helen has a strong knowledge of technical, operational, legal, and commercial aspects of the businesses. Track record of success in innovation, change management, leadership, governance, systems implementation and strategies around commercial and retail opportunities.

Helen’s current role oversees the Development Operations and innovation teams for Lendlease. She is primarily responsible for managing the process of governance, corporate innovation and change management. This means not only supporting people as they originate and execute new ideas, driving consistent standards for the existing portfolio of urban regeneration projects but also recognising solutions to be researched, tested and integrated into the way they work.

Resources mentioned

LMRE website www.lmre.co.uk 

UKPA website www.ukpa.com

JLL Asia Pacific website www.jllapsites.com/research/geographies/asia-pacific 

Lendlease website www.lendlease.com 

Insights From This Episode

  • That urgency and that instinct to act when something is almost existential is really what drives progress more than sitting back and waiting until we find what we think is the smoothest path – Jordan Kostelac 
  • There will be macro thinkers and there's micro thinkers, and the job right now is to pull both of them together to actually tangibly deliver the micro projects, but have the macro view– Helen Lam
  • You need to harvest an ecosystem that needs to be nurtured as a community to make progress in the industry – Helen Lam
  • That veil of secrecy that existed between asset holders and the tenants is much more thin than it used to be. So of course, we're trying to make sure that technology supports better analysis and more sophisticated transactions – Jordan Kostelac
  • I think the most interesting trend is where we're taking human senses and then applying computing specifically to look for a certain things using those senses – Jordan Kostelac
  • I always encourage younger women in my teams to essentially get out there on the construction site. The reality is, if you don't actually put yourself out there, then it won't change – Helen Lam

Episode Transcript

Louisa

Hi everyone and welcome to the Propcast, my name is Louisa Dickins, co-founder of LMRE and I shall be your weekly host. Each week for 30 minutes, we will be connecting the VC, PropTech start-ups and real estate professionals globally, and assist in bridging that famous communication gap we all love talking about. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Hi, everyone and welcome back to the podcast and to season five. Today we'll be exploring the unhidden truths of PropTech Asia and who better to chat through this than with Jordan Kostelac, who is Director of PropTech JLL Asia and Helen Lam, head of innovation development practice at Lendlease Asia too. So welcome to the show guys. 

Helen

Hi. Thanks for having us.

Jordan 

Thanks for having us. It's good to be checking in as we end our day here in Asia. 

Louisa

Thank you guys for joining me at this time. Like many of you listening, you might wonder what is happening on the other side of the world in PropTech, you might be wondering how do launch out in APAC, are they seeing similar trends, areas of adoption, barriers, so we'll be speaking about all of the above in a moment. But first let's give an introduction to today's guests. So Jordan focuses on solving challenges in real estate at Jones Lang LaSalle for the creation and deployment of property technology departments for the Asia Pacific region. Working through both internal and external stakeholders, he guides the exploration of how technology can positively disrupt built environment. Since joining Jones Lang LaSalle he has worked as a workplace strategy and change management consultant for many of JLLs largest global clients, working across Asia, the US, and Australia has strengthened his cross-cultural communication skills and ability to localise the application of global strategies. In addition to his professional endeavours, Jordan is development director for HK Walls, an internationally recognised non-profit street art festival that is transforming Hong Kong neighbourhoods into galleries or public art. The intersection of these two passions creates the opportunity to inject creativity into even the most traditional organizations. So welcomed today, Jordan.

Now we also are being joined by Helen and Helen is currently juggling several roles, obviously one being a global leader in the industry and MBA student, but also a mother of three kids, which I hear are under five years old. So as we said when we spoke before, I'm already in awe of that. Helen has over 19 years of experience in property development and management, across urban regeneration projects across Australia and Asia, and in recent years Helen has been leading business and digital transformation projects within PropTech and innovation. She's had very senior roles in real estate, leading thought leadership, diversity and delivery on major urban regeneration developments, pacemaking and community engagement. And she's also been recognised in as a global winner for women and PropTech Wars as a role model for visionary leadership, advocating women and real estate and technology. And is also recipient of the 2019 Kellogg's program scholarship for women, which is offered to candidates who have a proven track record of increasing gender and viewpoint diversity. So I'm looking forward to hearing a bit more about that later, but thank you both for joining us. Now our ordinance all warmed up, why don't we start off with a bit of background to how you both got into PropTech. Maybe Helen, you can go first because you studied law, then moved into real estate and now technology. How did this all come about? 

Louisa

Thanks Louisa. I originally thought, as my family was immigrants in Australia in the late seventies, we thought how you make money is to become a doctor or a lawyer. So I joined the legal team, but working specifically around construction challenges and workplace subtle insurance issues around construction sites. But very shortly, I felt really passionate about how things are built. And I moved really quickly within five years onto the construction site itself. And through that I've been able to get a lot of experience through developing and being part of the developing environment and working in asset management and development. So it was like a natural sort of growth when you're working in development. Development has been around for centuries and decades, since the Egyptian times, but the practices haven't really evolved that much in the last century. So I've been really advocating, supporting a lot of initially things that we don't really know about PropTech twelve years ago, like just building basic CRMs and talking about how do we improve asset management, like from all the manual Excel spreadsheets to how do we actually understand more about our customers? And that really evolved to really driving some of the key changes around implementation around how technology can support some of those challenges and answers.

 

Louisa

Thank you for that. And Jordan, what about you? You've worked at different sorts of businesses, and obviously involved in the arts as well. How did you get into out of this relevant Jones Lang LaSalle?

Jordan 

I mean, I can tell a really like a long tale about one thing leading to another, but the reality is most of my career has been centred around rethinking process. And so the natural evolution of that when I joined JLL, it was to, to rethink workplace. I was a workplace strategist and we were helping guide clients about how the sort of functional design of a workplace can help shape the outcomes that they want. Thinking of the workplace as a productivity tool, rather than just a space. But while doing that, the reality was I was being a real pain in the ass to JLL. I was constantly sending notes about, Hey, we need to be watching this tech. The advice we were giving our clients, we weren't necessarily adhering to ourselves. So we weren't turning a blind eye to and we weren't wilfully ignoring, but sometimes you just need to shine a light on that. Hey, we're telling our clients, this, our research is indicating this, we need to be applying it back. And very fortunately for me, there's probably plenty of bad stories where people have done the same thing with good intentions and had not been well received, but the leadership at JLL here in Asia, I recognise that those good intentions were really just that, that they were good intentions.

And so I was asked to sort of consult back into the business and take a technologist viewpoint when advising the executives here in Asia about why we might take a deeper look at this. And really, the other big thing is that you have to manage in companies as big as JLL, as big as Lendlease, we get a lot of attention and a lot of times it's for the best reasons, but a lot of people don't actually know why they want to talk to us other than they've heard of us. So I'm sure Helen will say the exact same thing that we get a lot of cold sort of approaches. And when I say we, I don't mean Helen and Jordan, I mean everybody at JLL with any specific title, everybody at Lendlease with any specific title gets a lot of cold pitches. And so a big part of my job is sifting through that and saying, actually, we may have something worth paying attention to here rather than just trying to field every person or every start-up or even every big potentially enterprise that wants to work with us because they know of us and they have an idea what they think our reach or a check book or our influence is. 

Louisa

It's interesting what you were saying about the senior partners, the senior management being on board and kind of recognizing what the full potential of what you can unlock in your role. I'm seeing a lot of HR or mandates finally getting sign up to hire more people like both of you into the businesses and in full-time roles. Because I'm sure you've seen innovation champions are doing their day-to-day role, but then also spending six hours a day a week looking at the innovation side. Now I'd love to hear a little bit more from both you and Helen, what digital products are Lendlease working on or building out? Obviously ConTech is massive, what are the sort of main areas which Lendlease are focusing on? 

Helen

I think that right now, because we've been our business model is about leveraging our operating segments, so we're interviewing developers, we do the development, we do the construction and investment management across a very diverse portfolio around the world. So when it comes to gate targeted gateway cities on underpinning some of our projects, it's infrastructure, it's urbanisation, it's retirement living and the aging population. It's how we approach it from a sustainability angle. And then of course the technology side. So when it comes to some of the focus areas, if you think about COVID today, these businesses and corporates such as Lendlease really needs to consider our approach and our role to society and our environmental impacts. So what we've seen is companies are really refocusing on what their competitive advantages, rather than just reducing costs or introducing new technology. 

And some of those outcomes that if you were to say what are we focusing on, is about how do we support the communities? How do we engage in more partnerships and stakeholds? How do we understand more about what are that our customers and our occupiers and our investors needs are? And then when it comes to technology, how does that empower an organisation such as ours to deliver like great places to deliver better workplaces, to deliver a purpose to the community and what underpins that is how we also drive placemaking in our projects, which is a huge focus of our updated and strategy And so that's a start. The other area around sustainability is the huge agenda for us. If we can get to a 1.5 degree aligned company underpinning two major aspirational but achievable carbon targets, we want to be net zero carbon by 2025 and absolutely zero carbon by 2040, which is really also inspirational when you're actually part of an organization with that sort of motivation to drive change. And then locally in Asia, we're really focused around imminently launching our digital podium platform, which is a $40 million investment in product development centre, focused around the end to end lifecycle platform of a project from construction to asset management and delivery. 

Louisa

And I guess from agency stand point, is JLL Asia taking a similar sort of angle? Looking at digital products or you're looking externally and building it internally?

Jordan

For JLL, it's a mix of both because at our heart we’re an outsourcing firm, we provide services to a wide range of clients, including clients like Lendlease. So what we have to do often times is first focus on our core services and how technology can support that. So in an organization like JLL where a lot of it is, as you said, driven by transactions you can do have to follow the money. And so we put a lot into improving how we're able to drive not just more transactions, volume is great and margin is great, we all want to have worked for a profitable company, we all enjoy the security of that, but the quality of transactions, the sophistication really is improving very quickly. 12.18 The old days, for instance, of a commercial real estate broker kind of being privy to information that the market wasn't are pretty much behind us because anybody with decent Google skills can find out a lot of this information, including things like shadow stock. That veil of secrecy that existed between asset holders and those seeking, the tenants, it's much more thin than it used to be. So of course, we're trying to make sure that technology supports better analysis and more sophisticated transactions. But then on the other side of it here in Asia, we have over 38,000 staff that are doing like more of the facilities management. 

So we use two terms that the market kind of uses in a change of way are property management and facilities management. Facilities management for us is occupied space and property is like the asset itself, the core and the main parts of buildings. And in doing that in managing that, there's a lot of really mundane tasks that have to take place that historically have just been ritual, but we're starting to discover it can be really powerful, the sources of data that then facilitate those more sophisticated transactions. And so sort of in the near term, the focus on digital product development has been how do we get better transaction platforms? How do we get more truly data-driven insights, right? Not limiting ourselves to spreadsheets and pockets of information, but the sort of aggregate of the information that that data provides. And then longer term looking at how do we get more information? How do we plan to organize and structure that in a meaningful way so that we're not spending so much time trying to clean it up and organize it after we get it, but rather construct new data inflows that then just sort of automatically support that transaction side of the business. And by marrying that short-term destination with a long-term destination through digital product planning we'll get to see a nice rebalancing or hopefully see a nice rebalancing of where those priorities lie between the management and the transaction side.

Louisa

And once these products are nearly perfected, a question I often get asked, especially with larger real estate businesses, how do you sort of promote a culture of innovation but also adoption to use these products correctly within the business? Helen I know you're involved in this and no doubt championing this is, have you got any sort of tips for our audience? 

Helen

Really good question, just because it's something that's really real. And whilst everyone talks about COVID accelerating adoption and what not, I believe that the fundamentals are those challenges around, how do we leverage technology to actually have tangible outcomes and performance that is really measurable, but enables that the end users to understand how to use it is still really real. I'll give you an example, is that we’ve trying to push technology to kind of eliminate some of the carbon on some of our projects from a construction perspective, and you can think about it from a macro perspective that would be fantastic because if we can pilot and do it well, then we can scale it, but also be a bit of a leader around first elimination of carbon. But when it comes to implementation, there's also big tactical rather than strategic and micro outlook. Like the response will be, do we have the budget or does this help us make money on the project? Or right now that's not in the supply chain plan. And I think those challenges of thinking macro with micro in how we deliver and sort of make use of some of this technology is still a real challenge. And I think that's not an easy fix for tomorrow, but it's also how do we change and convenience. Also there will be macro thinkers and there's micro thinkers and the job right now is to pull both of them together to actually tangibly deliver the micro sort of projects, but have the macro view. And I think that's essentially 99% of my job sometimes.

Louisa

Jordan, have you got anything to add to that or any sort of techniques or ways you've sort of worked in doing that within Jones Lang LaSalle?

Jordan

Well for me personally, the thing that's been highlighted the most as we've been distributed in our working. So I'm talking to you from my home right now and the thing that's become very apparent to me over the last year is we spent so much time trying to prevent duplication of work that the actual work never gets started. Now that that cannot be limited to a JLL. I think a lot of companies really end up doing that. Everyone is so concerned about duplicating work, but what we're finding out as I continue to work on different projects is that by encouraging duplication of work, you get through the sort of iterative process of developing great things faster. So the biggest actionable piece of advice I can give anyone in any of this is, don't be afraid to duplicate work. Helen is doing an MBA and my girlfriend's doing her MBA, and one of the biggest lessons I got out of when I did my MBA wasn't any specific course, it was about going through a process of elimination. When you take the GMAT, they teach you to take it through a process of elimination. And so by having people duplicate work, even though it feels like wasted resources, that process of elimination or finding those common threads is so much faster, like the opportunity costs is more than offsetting because you recoup that.

So that's really a big one for me, the aphoristic way to say it is like, Oh, try by doing - fail fast, learn fast. No, just do. Do in pockets and then come back together. That's what's been really effective, especially I think for me in the last eight months, we really aggressively with one particular project did that. We would work in silos, which has been a dirty word in the industry for so long. We would work in silos and then come back and compare notes. And when you look at one of the biggest things in the world, the most impactful thing of 2021, unless something absolutely crazy happens it’s going to be the vaccines being rolled out around the world. All of those were developed in isolation, but not without comparing notes between and so that same kind of thinking that urgency and that just instinct to act when something is almost existential is really what drives progress more than sort of sitting back and waiting until we find that sort of what we think is the smoothest path. And so that's really been bit of an epiphany for me now, almost three years into doing this work and I'm sure it's a lot more to learn. 

Louisa

There's definitely something to be said for sharing of ideas and comparing notes. It's kind of leads me on to sort of my next question and this one's for both of you, but Helen you might want to go first. I've spoken in previous seasons about diversity and Helen you’re leading women in this space and an advocate for diversity, and you're in construction and we can call it ConTech and you work for Lendlease, how can we get more diverse people in this space? Or I guess, particularly in construction which is male dominated? I'm sure it can change, what's your personal experience been and what obstacles do we need to tackle? 

Helen

That is such a heartfelt question to the core of my core. I just think being a woman who when you walk on a construction site in Asia, one of the sites that I worked on we had 13,000 construction workers and 12,990 of them were male. So walking on the site and me being a small female lady in a hard hat with just a small voice, you can't help it being intimidated or feel intimidated So I think my advice is just, I always encourage younger women in my teams to essentially get out there on the construction site. Yes, they will not listen to it and yes, they'll give you a look like why are you talking to me? But the reality is, if you don't actually put yourself out there, then it won't change. When it comes to PropTech and Contech I think it's about how managers and leaders such as Jordan and myself, we need to also balance some of the biases when it comes to hiring. If you think about it from the technology perspective, there's architects that can program and they're not married to any sectors, but then when you can talk about the text in the real estate, it's very much a marriage to the built environment. But there's hardly any architects there can do both programming, understand digital technology, but also understand the impact and on the building environment, as an architect and the design impact.

And I think there's a huge opportunity and gap in the market for that diverse talent to be adding value in the industry. And so when it comes to women, they can actually build skills, like the hard skills around design. I encourage younger women to learn how to code, learn, how to build things, get for themselves out there in the construction site. And then when it comes to managers, such as myself and Jordan, we need to be open to have that unbiased view when it comes to it. And sometimes those unbiased view might have to be conscious in developing talent as well. 

Louisa

And Jordan, is there anything you'd like to add to that as well?

Jordan

Yes, I think knowing we’re in an audio format here for those who don't know me, and don't let the exotic surname for you, I’m an American male from Ohio. The job of a male ally is to highlight when that imbalance exists. And I have to say never once in the times, and it's been many times at this point that I've highlighted that imbalance has it been met with hostility. So there will be times because JLL is historic to the property industry, we of course have a lot of male dominance within the organisation. There will be times where we're presenting to a client or to the market or something, and it is all white male faces. And any time I flag that within the organization, we have acted on it quickly and we've made sure not just to put a sort of token presence in there, but actually get the perspective of a female or of any other minority within the conversation. Not minority as a sort of abstract term, but making sure that we have a diverse set of viewpoints and representation in that conversation has been something that is accepted with open arms and it's scary the first time you do it. And it's a little less scary the second time you do it, but as you keep saying, Hey, this is an issue, most people will go, I wasn't looking for that. 

And so the job of a male ally, and now that I can spit it out is to flag that and sometimes, sometimes that job is to say, I will step out. I will help with this. There are quite a number of occasions where I worked with, especially some of the younger talent in JLL, I've helped them go straight and find some of their confidence. Does that mean I've written the entire thing that they've done? No, not usually. It's like, I'll write a little writing prompt and then work with them to flesh out their version of that story. And that gives them enough confidence to do it the first time. And then usually they don't even need the help the sentence, but helping people find their voice, that's the job of an ally. And so that's really, I think something that we can all afford to reflect on. Even in the case of Helen yes as a female she's underrepresented, but anyone who knows her know she's a very powerful presence and so lending or helping use that presence in that voice to amplify those that haven't had their moment yet is really it's really important.

Louisa

Yes, I echo that, at LMRE we are going into businesses and giving presentations on basically exactly what you said about giving the more junior talent a voice, looking at this at the grassroots, doing talks with them universities as well to sort of show the different avenues you can go down and all their transferable skills, and also listening to them about what's their interpretation of real estate and technology. What do they see as barriers, but also what do they need to learn about and what do they need to build on? But I think it's important to look at these diverse shortlists but like you said every hiring manager, every business, taking accountability for whoever they hire as well. But there's plenty of things that we need to address.

Going back to Proptech, who’s leading the way in APAC in terms of start-ups? Are there any you are seeing who are really growing or have a really good product?

Helen

I think right now in terms of players, you've got the VCs investment, you've got government players driving a lot of the ecosystem and investments and incentives at the moment. And then you've got the start-ups really rising. Start-ups in Asia is just booming, particularly in Singapore being such a central ecosystem and a tiny dot around the world, but even Zoom set up a massive centre here in just December a few months ago. You've got platforms like the COVID beneficiaries in pharmatech, biotech supermarkets have been booming because everyone's just shopping and eating at home. You've got tech companies investing such as e-commerce such as Lazada. Then also the digital banking and licenses have enabled the Uber and the Singtel to also leverage their platforms as well. So I would say there's a lot of big players amplified through where we're at in the world at the moment and there is exponential growth in those areas. But I think the main players are also some of the key people like the government partners, the Lendlease, the JLLs driving some of those ecosystems so that there's not one single player when it comes to PropTech. You need to harvest an ecosystem that needs to be nurtured as a community to make progress in the industry. 

Louisa

Jordan, what are the major trends you’re seeing? Helen touched on ConTech sustainability earlier, is there a certain area which JLL are investing in PropTech Asia pretty well, what are the major trends you’ve seen in general?

Jordan

Well major trends, I'm not sure any have emerged because personally there's a strange irony to the fact, my job title is director of PropTech. I don't like the term PropTech. I don't like any of these tech portmanteaus where you just shoved tech on the end of something and all of a sudden it's valued higher. But what I think is the most interesting trend and what I think will end up proving to be an important and fundamental truth with technology moving forward is the most effective tools are the ones that are mimicking our own biases, logical senses. So for instance, you asked what start-ups are interesting. One of the ones that participated in Asia's first PropTech accelerator, it just happened to be run by JLL and Lendlease was a company called Loretta.io and Loretta focuses on machine vision and they use programmatic analytics to basically plug a box into camera systems and monitor for particular things. A human with 30 monitors in front of them can look and try and flag something when it's really sort of an egregious violation, a machine plugged into those same 30 monitors can notice the most subtle of things. And that is mimicking human senses, right? That's mimicking vision and awareness and alertness for a particular thing. 

I think I read not long ago, but I can't remember when I read it, MIT had done some analysis around being able to analyse the sound of a cough and diagnose whether the person had COVID. And so again, you think about these are senses are refined over millions of years of evolution. The term in the industry is biomimicry, but instead of engineering, these sort of unit task or purpose built tools, I think the most interesting trend is where we're taking human senses and then applying computing specifically to look for a certain things using those senses. So you only need one camera system and you can have a series of smaller programs or boxes or servers on the cloud running and analysing for specific things and alerting the right parties. That's really interesting to me. So I think that's, that's a big one is how is technology duplicating what evolution has done so well for us. 

Louisa

You mentioned Lendlease and Jones Lang’s accelerator program. Lots of our listeners are start-ups but also VCs, Helen what obstacles have you observed in start-ups launching in APAC from any of these programs you've been involved in?

Helen

So Lendlease and JLL probably two years now, time is flying launched propel Asia, which was at the time the first Proptechs accelerated program in Asia. And it was a great opportunity for us to really understand whether working with start-ups can really solve some of our challenges. We can't solve them on our own, the company that Jordan mentioned earlier, Loretta, we're still working with two years down the track and it's been really amazing to see their growth as well. They're understanding more of the customer, we have now implemented and trialled their products as they evolved to solve the real challenges around managing the social distancing, the regulations, helping us understand customer patterns and social distancing requirements, and also understand more of our customers and demographic profiles. So, the lessons learned around there is that sometimes the start-ups, you need to invest in some of their capability and understanding of the organization needs as well. And as those needs evolve, how they are agile enough to kind of pivot and find the solutions based on that. And I think we work given a number of those start-ups and the start-ups that have really listened to us and worked really closely with us has been really a gratifying and successful relationship. And I'm really excited to look at what we can achieve in terms of the next stage of Propel would be.

Louisa

It sounds like Loretta is a great case study to build on. Now, Jordan are there any do's and don'ts for a start-up launching in APAC? What you've seen that works and what doesn't work?

Jordan

I think a big don't is don't try to simply replicate a model that's been applied say in North America. So it's easy to look at Silicon Valley success stories and once you then just duplicate, not necessarily even the product, but the trajectory that they've followed so in terms of venture capital, going through this fundraise, that fundraise and that fundraise. Conditions are so wildly different and challenges are much more diverse, not necessarily more complex, but much more diverse in Asia. So In between Singapore, where Helen is right now in Hong Kong where I am, we have five official languages. We have Mandarin, Cantonese, I think Tamil and Hasa and of course English. And so that's already a couple more than North America usually has to reconcile. And so addressing those types of challenges and understanding that your reach, you can go out and you can stick with Mandarin and you could go after China, but it's a very David and Goliath challenge. You can then go the other way and try to have something that's more universal to adopt across Southeast Asia, but that's a much longer burn. 

And so I think when you're starting to look for advice, that's where you can look to someone like Helen or myself who has a sort of holistic view of this geography and then think about, okay, what, how should my strategy shape up? Because simply going around and asking for money, yes capital always helps, capital makes a smoother path but kind of calling back to what I was saying earlier about not being afraid to sort of duplicate work. It's not always the right path. And that right path is something where you really want to look to people who understand the industry holistically, but aren't entrenched in it. And again, that goes back to you're talking to someone who was a lawyer and moved into managing innovation for a big developer. You're talking to someone who was a process engineer who ended up working for a big property firm. We are bringing external perspectives, but our job is to understand the landscape to use Helen's term at that macro level first. And so the other big piece of advice is, who you think your customer is probably is not. Even though you're solving a problem they have, they may not be the customer who's going to foot the bill for that. And so a great example is in that world of property and facilities management, you can pitch that all day to say just a sort of traditional landlord, which in many cases in Asia, a way to find as a traditional landlord is one small part of a much bigger conglomerate. 

And so they don't actually manage their assets. They outsource that to companies like JLL. And so you're trying to pitch to their team to get them to take some tech that helps the management process be better. When in reality, you should be talking to the people who are actually managing it and figuring out how you are able to fold that in they're very narrow margins. Or if you're talking more along the lines of say ConTech, construction is not always the most lucrative business, but where a lot of money or a lot of margin is there to be played with is the underwriting of construction projects and how funds are dispersed across those projects. So maybe instead of talking to the construction companies, you should be talking to the banks or it should be talking to the insurance companies. And that's where again, I wouldn't have been able to answer that question in this way even two years ago, but that's becoming more and more apparent to me is that even the people you're designing the tools to support won't necessarily be the ones to make it commercially viable.

Louisa

It's basically doing a hell of a lot of research talking to everyone. It must be quite disheartening thinking that the person you're speaking to isn't actually probably isn't the right person. For everyone listening into this LMRE are expanding to APAC and Jordan was one of the first people I spoke to, to ask for advice about the strategy, the plan, who to speak to. And so I think it's so important to put feelers out and talk to everyone which you can and thought leaders in this space as well. Unfortunately, we're coming to the final part of the Propcast. Now we're trying a new thing in season five and it's called the, ending it with the L M R E part. So L four lessons learned, M for mention anyone’s product service, R is for any regrets and that sounds pretty cynical, but I think it’s meant to be taking something good from it. And E is what are you most excited about for the future PropTech? So we'll break it down, maybe Helen if you could start with L part, the lessons you've learned in your career?

Helen

I think the key lesson as Jordan mentioned is that you don't start to label yourself. I think society forces us to put a lot of pressure on us to label ourselves, we’re an architect, we’re engineer, we’re a lawyer or we’re a building manager. And I think that the world as it is now is that we need to be very, very agile and remain open in terms of what you can be or what you can evolve your skillsets and to be, and what projects and roles that you can drive that doesn't necessarily tag to who you are. And that's my key lessons that I've learned that has enabled me to have great experiences across different roles in the industry. 

Louisa

Oh, thank you for that. And then Jordan, mention anyone or a product or service that you would like to give a shout out to. 

Jordan

All right so I have to mention a scrappy little start-up out of Singapore called Geometric. I'm going to let everybody look them up and make their own decision, but I've really been impressed. One of the things geometric is doing quite well is they're designing their processes, I mentioned before four languages, there's probably even more when you get onto a construction site which Helen can speak even more. So how do you universalise processes that converts every action they have into meaningful data? Geometrics is doing an amazing job of that. I also, I would be remiss not to shout out our old friend, Jack Fitzgerald, who was with Lendlease and has moved over to Hitachi. Certainly one of the elder statesmen. I'm not calling them old, but one of the elder statesmen of PropTech here in Asia. And just the last one is Julian Quan and the team at Investor-X in Singapore. I have been historically bearish on tokenisation and digital securities, I know it's coming and I know that it's going to be important, just being the impatient sort that I am I don't think it's coming fast enough. But those guys, while a lot of people are just trying to ride the wave of hype, they've kept their heads down and are really doing some meaningful and important work in the space. And so I think they're one to keep an eye on as well. 

Louisa

Oh, awesome, listeners check them out. And R, Helen, any regrets in your career? I feel that it sounds pretty cynical. I don't mean it in a cynical way. 

Helen

I have a lot of regrets around not starting my own start-up earlier around PropTech myself. And I see a lot of opportunities now and I think better late than never, but I definitely watch this space. It's very interesting times. 

Louisa

Awesome. And the final part E, Jordan big question, what are you most excited about in the future of your most hated word, PropTech? 

Jordan

Well, believe you me when I tell you that it's not my most hated word! What it's funny and I'm really feeling quite privileged that you're taking off season five with this conversation, because I spent most of 2019 talking about PropTech, talking about technology and the impact on the industry. So most of the 2020 behind the desk, not doing much public speaking or any sort of external engagement like this, because I felt like I didn't have anything different to say everyone was talking about the future of the office, but you don't need to be an expert. You just need to be somebody who's used an office and experienced the same common experience we've all had to the last year. 

What I'm most excited about is that I think that we're starting to see a shift away from the platform economies of technology into one of more participation. So platform economies they give a small group of very powerful companies or individuals, even more disproportionate amount of power. But like I mentioned, companies like Geometric and companies like Investor-X what excites me is they're going to allow more and more people to participate in every aspect of the value chain within real estate. And then hopefully recoup some of the rewards that come with that participation by generating new sources of data lead generation to transactions shouldn't be limited to that select few brokers I mentioned off the top of it, but anyone who's actually involved. The best example I can give is like a lot of times when someone's selling their house, they share a Facebook post. You might show your friends Facebook posts, and that's actually the origination of the sale of that. And in today's world, a real estate agent gets all of that. They get all of the transaction fee associated with that, and I'm optimistic that more and more transparency of data, less monopolistic practices around data and more tracking of the origination of that will allow more people to then share in the wealth that this industry generates. So that's what I'm most excited about. And I think anyone who knows me will find that surprisingly optimistic. 

Louisa

Thank you for that, Jordan. Sadly, this is bringing us to the end, but first and foremost thank you both for joining me in your evenings and the audience I'm sure would love to check you both out. So Helen, if you could first let us know how can the audience best connect with you? And then Jordan, if you could go after.

Helen

The best thing is just to message me on LinkedIn, Helen Lam at Lendlease. 

Louisa

Awesome. And Jordan?

Jordan

I'm Jordan Kostelac on LinkedIn and, and occasionally on Twitter @scopelessness so that’s me online.

Louisa

Thank you very much for joining me on the podcast. And I am looking forward to catching up with after thou both after this. 

Both

Thank you so much. Thanks for having us. 

Louisa 

Thank you for joining us this week on the Propcast and a big thanks to our special guests. Make sure you visit our website www.lmre.co.uk where you can subscribe to our show. Or you'll find us on iTunes and Spotify were all good content is found, while you’re at it if you found value in the show, we'd appreciate if you could rate and review us on iTunes or if you could simply spread the word. Be sure to tune in next Tuesday, and I’ll catch you later. 

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