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First Generation PropTech and Acquisitions with Andy Kean and Scott Gabor

14.4.21

The Propcast: First Generation PropTech and Acquisitions with Andy Kean and Scott Gabor

In this episode the Propcast talks to CoStar’s Andy Kean and Scott Gabor about CoStar being one of the first generation PropTechs, and CoStar’s acquisitions within the space.

 Click here to listen to this episode, and here is a preview of our chat below!

 

The Propcast by Louisa Dickins, co-founder of LMREthe leading Global PropTech recruiter, is 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.

About Our Guests

Scott Gabor

https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-gabor-9745223/?originalSubdomain=uk

Scott is CoStar’s Regional Sales Director. He spent the first 12 years of his time at CoStar in the Washington DC office, and has held various sales and leadership roles with clients spanning most of the US. Today Scott oversees a team that looks after CoStar’s clients in the Southwest, Midlands, Northwest and Yorkshire. CoStar is one of the first PropTech and real estate data companies out there. And known by quite a few as the world leader in commercial real estate information analytics and market places.

Andy Kean

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewkean/?originalSubdomain=uk

Andy is CoStar’s Head of UK Sales, he has been with CoStar for 12 years, starting originally in research in 2009 and working from their Glasgow office. He moved to join the sales team in London in 2010, and he is now responsible for over 30 sales professionals and driving UK revenue and customer success.  He is an experienced and passionate sales leader of high-achieving B2B sales teams with over a decade of selling online PropTech solutions. Andy is described as a believer in a consultative, client-focused approach to selling and fostering long-term business relationships.

Resources Referenced

LMRE website www.lmre.co.uk

UKPA website www.ukpa.com

CoStar website www.costar.com

The Challenger Sale book  recommended by Andy:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Challenger-Sale-Control-Customer-Conversation/dp/0670922854

Insights From This Episode

  • As a business that’s always growing, there’s always new things coming in and so you’ve got to have people who are happy to learn and to acquire new skills and understand new verticals – Scott Gabor
  • When we talk about the skills and the attributes that we look for in people, adaptability is definitely one of them – Andy Kean
  • CoStar is a bit of a melting pot, where we have our core culture but as we bring in different organisations, we do change in some ways with them – Scott Gabor
  • I say to any young PropTechs out there – often they’ll start with outsourcing their tech, and the building of that and their platform. But the sooner you can bring that in house, the better, because you control everything and really work it – Andy Kean
  • Whenever we’re looking to buy a business, we’re usually looking at it adding three things to our current business – So one is data, another one is technology, and then the last piece is people – Scott Gabor
  • Your cancel risk goes way up if you don’t do service well. You’ve got to be present with your user group, you’ve got to be communicating – Andy Kean

Episode Transcript

Louisa

Hi everyone and welcome to the Propcast, my name is Louisa Dickins, co-founder of LMRE and board director of the UKPA, and I shall be your weekly host. Each week for 30 minutes, we will be connecting the VCs, 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 to the podcast, Today’s episode will be on first generation PropTech and acquisitions. And today we’re joined by Andy Kean and Scott Gabor from CoStar. So welcome, guys.

Andy

Thank you, Louisa. Great to be here.

Scott

Thanks for having us.

Louisa

And also a special shout out to Scott because apparently it’s his birthday today. So let me give you guys some introductions. So Andy is the Director and Head of UK Sales and he’s been at CoStar for about 12 years, and he started originally in research in 2009 and working from their Glasgow office which you will be able to tell from his accent, it’s slightly different to Scott’s! He then moved to join the sales function in London in 2010. These days Andy is responsible for over 30 sales professionals and that must be pretty chaotic, and also demanders driving UK revenue and customer success. Prior to joining CoStar, Andy was in the commercial sphere in the Glasgow market. So welcome to the show Andy, and time for birthday boys introduction. Scott, who’s joining us today is the UK regional Sales Director and has been with CoStar just a tad longer than Andy, coming up to nearly 15 years under his belt, so CoStar must be doing something right to keep their team within the business for this amount of time.

And Scott, whose accent is not from the UK, has spent the first 12 years of his time at CoStar in the Washington DC office. Scott has held various sales and leadership roles with clients spanning most of the US, and today Scott oversees a team that looks after CoStar’s clients in the Southwest, Midlands, Northwest and Yorkshire. And everyone who’s listening, most of you are all from the real estate innovation space, but for those who are listening from outside sector, CoStar is one of the first PropTech and real estate data companies out there. And known by quite a few as the world leader in commercial real estate information analytics and market places, definitely check out the website. And they’ve impressively tracked more than 6.2 million commercial properties across all asset classes. And they give their customers a detailed view of transactions, market trends and key performance indicators at the micro as well as macro level. So yet again, welcome Andy and Scott, why don’t we start with letting the audience know how you first got into it? And also how does it feel to be one of the pioneers of PropTech? When I was last in the States, I went into Metaprops office and they have a timeline of PropTech and CoStar’s at the very beginning of that! And so Andy, why don’t why don’t you go first? You started in the surveying space and what lead you to your role now? And maybe also your role’s changed, so you went from commercials surveyor, to research to now sales. How did that happen?

Andy

Sure. Well, I’m happy to tell you and just to make it very clear, although CoStar is a pioneer of PropTech, I sadly wasn’t there at the start but certainly been there for enough years to really give you a good grip on what the company is all about. I graduated in 2006 and joined a niche surveying practice in Glasgow, three partners – one did investment, one did valuation, one did agency, got a very steep, great learning curve for a few years they are working as a spare. And of course, the GFC happened and lots of us surveyors got moved on. And at the same time, CoStar was hiring in Glasgow, they’d acquired a company called Scottish Property Network, which all the surveyors used to market their properties and look for data. And it was a really good fit for the CoStar model.

And we decided to base our UK research in Glasgow. So I joined as a researcher initially and before long, moved into a role where we started our first investment comps team for tracking on investment activity in UK. So it started there and with that role I came to London on a few trips and things, met with some clients and various other things, went to events and met the sales director and was basically offered an opportunity to move down in a sales capacity to manage one of the London bits of business, which I was really excited about and moved down and worked as an account manager for the first few years. And that went really well, a great time and meeting with clients, cutting abut Mayfair made me feel like I was the real deal, completely delusional but it was pretty fun. Made some great relationships with a lot of the market and their market participants. So had a great time there, then moved into a management role after a few years and have gradually moved around different parts of the business. One part of their or the Salesforce I should say, one role I had was looking after our major accounts. So the top eight brokerage firms during a really pivotal time for CoStar as we launched the actual CoStar platform in the UK for the first time, which was replacing the historic legacy products of focus information and Scottish property network. So that was a huge period in CoStar’s growth in the UK. And for the last almost two years, I’ve been running the UK Sales Team.

Louisa

Awesome. Well, congratulations on all your success and also progress. After we’ve heard about Scott’s journey, I’d love to hear a little bit more, because lots of our listeners are looking to get into this space and wondering bit more about the roles. So after Scott’s intro, it would be great to hear about what do you need to be a research person, and what does account management mean, what about customer success? So maybe you can give us a little bit more tips on that Andy? Scott, tell us move from the US to rainy UK. Why was that? Tell us about your journey.

Scott

First thank you for the birthday wishes and having us on today. I actually was in the recruiting space, something near and dear to your heart, and I placed somebody at CoStar who’s in the finance firm still working there today. And that was my first introduction to the CoStar group and found myself maybe a little dissatisfied with the position I was in, and I had worked with a bunch of companies in DC and new HR as we would say, or HR as you would say, people all over the business and of all the companies that I had worked with, who would I want to go work for? And CoStar was the top of my list. And luckily they had fond thoughts of me as well, and so that was how I ended up at CoStar in commercial real estate. I had really no exposure to the space before then, and I started as an inside sales rep in our DC headquarters and then I’ve just worked my way up through the organisation since then.

And a few years back, I was approached to see if I would be open to relocating to the UK and helping grow our team out in the regions. And it was an opportunity that my wife and I didn’t think we could pass up, getting a chance to live in Europe. Little did we know, we would spend most of the time in our flat but it was something that we wanted to wanted to do. And it’s been it’s been fabulous. It’s been a really great experience and CoStar has been a great place for me to grow my career. I’ve had numerous different jobs and I’ve gotten to see a whole lot of the world and interact with CoStar clients from Hawaii, Portland, Maine and the states and everywhere and all over the United Kingdom as well. It’s a really great place for me.

Louisa

Yes, so it’s clear from listening to both you that CoStar offers various different opportunities through its massive platform. And Andy, can you elaborate a little bit more, there’s a clear route you just spoke about – research, to probably research associate, to account manager, to then the opportunity to be in sales. What skills you need, have you got any advice for our audience here? Quite often when I speak to people I recommend rather than going straight into an early stage start-up who might be completely out their depth and not quite ready for, what I often say for them to go into a larger, more established company like CoStar nd the big software company who can get that structure, training. What skills are you looking for in some of these roles? And Scott, you probably can elaborate on that as well and recognise it from a different angle.

Andy

Well, for me, I think there’s a variety of skills that can work. I think there’s a few essentials that I would say are probably the same in any company that’s got real growth ambitions. And don’t forget CoStar when I joined, I think the share price was something like about $60 a share and it’s soared ever since. We’re still a growth business, we’ve certainly not reached our capacity in any form. And the reason I mentioned that is that what struck me when I first joined, and this is in the Glasgow office where we were in a fairly secondary office building in the centre of Glasgow, but with a massive workforce, we had over 100, researchers, all sitting in the same floor. What struck me was the attitude and the positivity and everyone feeling like they were all contributing to the overall vision of the business, which was astonishing, was amazing. It was infectious. So I think attitude is so important, and work ethic and all those things that come along with being successful anywhere really, I had a passion for real estate and technologies, a personal past passion of mine, so I bought into straight away, and I think when you see people come in and get on board with it immediately, often they come from the industry because they’ve seen maybe the inefficiencies that they’ve maybe had to deal with in a previous role.

But equally, a lot of people who have done well in sales have actually come from the research team. We have another guy, he’s been here just as long as I have and has been one of our most successful salespeople for 10 years. And the attitude is one thing, the work ethic it’s very much a meritocracy and I believe any growth business should be a meritocracy, you get out what you put in, and that mantra is trickles down from the very top. And wherever you go in CoStar, whichever department you speak to, everyone has a part to play in the success of the business. And a big focus that we’ve had in the last few years has been around the client and making sure that just because you’re not in sales, doesn’t mean you’re not impacting client service. And there’s a real mantra and the company to be very, very client focused. And again, that is something that’s going to bode well for any, any company starting up in the service sector. So to me you could go down the road of speaking about skills, but I think a lot of the skills you learn in the job. If you’ve got the right attitude and intelligence and curiosity and drive, then you can generally do pretty well at CoStar.

Louisa

Scott what about you, any tips in terms of people looking to move into this sector? And also you’ve been predominantly in sales, so what skills or what do you look for when you hire your team as well?

Scott

Yes, I think you want people who are innately curious, as a business that’s always growing, there’s always new things coming in and so you’ve got to have people who are happy to learn and to acquire new skills and understand new verticals. So, when I started with CoStar we were primarily office industrial retail and since that time we’ve added multifamily in the United States and hospitality globally, and so there’s just always new things.

And so you need to have a curiosity and there’s that phrase, and I can’t believe I’m going to utter it literally publicly for it to be recorded, but fast paced. So I have been accused of being a busybody most of my life. And CoStar really plays ball into that, we have a really fast pace, we move really quickly, we’re always growing and expanding and doing new things. And so that’s always worked well for me, it’s something I’ve enjoyed and I’ve been able to leverage that for my own career. So I would say those are things that I would recommend. The last pieces competitiveness, we want to be the best at what we do at CoStar, which is fantastic as a salesperson when that you’ve got the weight of the rest of the organisation behind you trying to produce the best products, it makes it a lot better to go out and sell those and service them for your customers. And that is something I think that I’ve seen in the people who have worked for me who have been successful, its competitive drive.

Louisa

Say they’ve got those skills, this market is becoming ever saturated, we’re seeing a lot more commercial data companies coming to this space, what are CoStar’s USPS other than being first mover, having a huge mandate to having developed business? Andy maybe you can go first on this one?

Andy

Sure, our main USPS are really data technology. And I’d say investment in people. If you think of the CoStar platform and its origins, I think it was very much a data and technology solution. But to beat to make it the success it’s been as has been through a lot of hard work in terms of selling, we have to sell our product on the value that it brings to our client base, and the ways that we can help them. And that’s a very consultative sale, particularly in an industry which people are always saying we’re behind other sectors in terms of technology adoption, that’s really not the case anymore.

It’s caught up in a big way. But there’s an education that’s required, and has been required along the way to try and illuminate what those time savings and efficiencies and business development opportunities exist within the platform to your client base. And you can look at it in different ways, but originally certainly in the UK, the core client base that we had here was very much the agency community. And over the years, we’ve seen massive growth in other parts of the industry that play a significant role in the built environment. So it’s the owners, the investors, the lenders, the planners, various different forms within the within the real estate industry, all have a need for CoStar because we built it in a way that is very broad. So one user of Microsoft Excel uses, the average user uses about 8% of his functionality, you still use Excel because it gives you value for what you need. And with CoStar we have a whole suite of functionality within it. No one user uses everything. But more and more increasingly, our users are getting value from different areas that maybe didn’t foresee in the past.

So I think the USP is, that data is everything. If you can build the nicest tool, and the best technology, but if the data is not there to back it up, and it’s going to render it meaningless. So that’s why we’ve invested massively in that over the years getting the data right and, and not just relying on one source of data. We’ve got massive research house of course, that do many things, one of the duties is to call up the agency community, build relationships and collect a lot of information that way. It is free for the agents to list the properties and CoStar, for example so we know it’s going to be seen by the agency community, the professional community. So there’s an incentive there to share that information. But equally we don’t stop there, we look at over a dozen sources of information where we can get rich information that our clients need. So whether it’s the land registry, planning information, and so on. So the idea is that we’re going to save our clients a huge amount of time because they don’t have to go to disparate sources to gather that data, it’s all in one place.

So there’s a real emphasis behind that. And the research team is made up of lots of different things. We have a team that the trawl the land registry for all of lease information is registered. I’ll tell you thank goodness the windows don’t open on the 26th floor of the Shard, because it’s a tough job. But I tell you what, it doesn’t show, there’s an amazing team we’ve got they’re doing that and digitize all of that rich, rich information that is very hard to get and time consuming to get. And that approach is symptomatic across the group. We operate in the same way here, as we do in the States, we have a few research teams out there tracking the market.

But in addition to that, occasionally they will do like an inventory project of a market, where they’ll be like Pac Man going around the streets and collecting on the building data, the agency boards and the owners and the tenants and so on. But more recently, we’ve been focusing massively on visual content, and they’re all trained qualified drone pilots, they have the best photography, equipment that money can buy, and they are proper architectural photographers. So we are enhancing the visual content in the platform at a time when that is needed to accelerate based on what’s happened last year, virtual tours and Matterports and all the other technology that we can utilise to provide additional value for clients. So the data is the research piece I suppose, is all encompassing, it’s not just calling up agents, it’s everything. We pull in third party data now to supplement what we gathered ourselves. So there’s a huge amount of investment that goes into that, to produce the product we have.

Louisa

And what you said about your users only using 15% of Excel, I think I’d probably use even less than that! I seriously need to work on that. Thank God we don’t have to use Excel for recruitment. Now Scott, you’ve worked in two different markets, the US and the UK market. How would you say the markets have matured? You compete against our real estate data companies, what have you seen over your nearly 15 years of experience in the industry?

Scott

In terms of how products are placed in the market?

Louisa

Yes, how their developing and Andy elaborated on your USP is, but what have you seen in terms of growth of this sector?

Scott

I think probably the biggest area of growth that I’ve seen has been, in real estate a lot of people are office agents, they’ll do retail or they specialised in hospitality, but it’s the integration of all of those different things and how they play against each other. And I remember, when we first started digging into the multifamily space in the US, you suddenly realise that, “Oh, that office block that’s being built, that’s going to affect what’s going to happen with the apartments and the rents that are there.” And so the different play on each of the different sectors on each other, and how it is like an ecosystem, it’s like a fish tank where you’ve got certain fish that are serve different roles, the properties in commercial real estate aren’t all that different, but they all play off of each other. And so, being able to and needing to see what’s happening in all the different spaces at the same time, I think is really valuable.

It’s also the amount of data and the ease of the technology to allow you to get to information has just changed so vastly since when I started, the ability to having a forecast 15 years ago was, people did it but it was like every quarter, maybe something would come out and you’d be able to read someone’s paper on it for a specific sub market. Whereas today, you can go into the CoStar platform, and you can draw any shape you want on a map and cover any set of properties and then 10 seconds have a forecast for the next five years about what we think is going to happen in a bunch of the different metrics that we might measure. That leap of technology has really been astonishing, it is something that when I think back to what we used to be able to do, compared to what we can do today, it makes me feel old, it’s appropriate to say that on my birthday, but that’s probably the biggest piece I would look at.

Andy

I second that as well, I think that the investment in software development is second to none, we’ve got over 600 software developers and I say to any young Proptechs out there, so they often they’ll start with outsourcing their tech, and the building of that and their platform and everything else. But certainly I’ve heard from many others in the market, that the sooner you can bring that in house, the better and really kick on from there, because you control everything and can really work it. And Andy Florence, our CEO and founder, he did all that himself when it all started. But it’s changed now you need pace, and sometimes to get that pace initially you outsource it, but then whenever you get that opportunity to bring it in house, you should.

Scott

Also one other thing is digital marketing and it’s probably something we take for granted. But fifteen years ago, no one really thought about putting things online for the world to see, right. There was still print advertising that dominated things. And I remember when I was a new sales rep, and you walk around town looking for letting boards and things of that nature, whereas now everything is online, any building that is trying to be let or sold is going to have some online presence. And that that change happened fast, and it happened dramatically and I think that is another huge shift since I’ve been with the company, and I think that’s been a shift probably for every industry but in real estate, I think it’s pretty dramatic as well.

Louisa

Since both your times in sales, lots of people that I speak to say, I’m actually sick and tired of people saying the real estate industry is archaic, we all know it’s slightly slow moving, but have you developed any good sell techniques of how to upsell a product into an old school real estate company? CoStar has an infinite amount of clients, which lots of businesses would dream of having, but any challenges you come across in your career when you’re trying to get people to use your product correctly or use it in the first place?

Andy

There’s various obstacles we’ve come across along the way, I think what we’ve learned is that if you’re selling to a business, you need to understand the customer, you need to understand the business, you need to have a really good curiosity, you need to have a really good discovery with that customer and understand how they operate. Just because they’re a niche retail agent doesn’t mean you automatically know how they’re going to use CoStar. And not only that, the culture I guess, traditionally, you would see a typical surveying practice, have the senior guys delegate that type of activity to the junior people in the team. That is definitely changing and actually last year, we saw an acceleration of the partner level people, director level people. But then these businesses using the platform because of course a lot of the junior folk were on furlough, and the business had to keep moving, and they had to know what was going on in the market. So that was quite an interesting thing that popped up last year.

But when you’re selling into a company like that, you need to understand the use case and understand the users and how they currently operate. What are the company using, how long does it take you to do that, try and quantify pain points that you uncover. And then it’s crucial that the senior team, that decision makers in that business understand that, and you articulate well the ways in which we’re going to help the business become more effective, efficient and grow. So it’s really around that.

And then it doesn’t stop at the sale, it really just begins at the sale, onboarding that client it’s imperative to get that right. And you’re there regularly. One of the reasons we have a big salesforce is that we want to support our client base, there’s unlimited training with CoStar because it is a vast platform, I can’t think of really any client training session I’ve ever been on, either conducted myself or supporting one of my team, where we haven’t learned something about how the platform can benefit that individual, because we don’t know everything about what they do before we get in the room. So there’s always something they don’t know about the platform, they could be a super user but there’s something else that they could be benefiting from. So that’s a never ending process, your cancel risk goes way up if you don’t do service well. And you’ve got to be there, you’ve got to be present with a user group, you’ve got to be communicating to the senior group at all times.

Louisa

Yeah, I love the term super user. It always makes me laugh, like the term rock star. I got into like a little LinkedIn argument, just taking the mickey out of someone using it, and using the word superstar. It’s just a ridiculous expression, but we are all guilty of saying at one point.

Andy

Amazing the things I’ve caught myself saying,

Louisa

I know it’s cringe worthy. Well, at least you don’t record a podcast every other week where you have to listen to yourself back!

Andy

So glad this isn’t being recorded!

Louisa

Okay, now let’s go on to a question about a bit of M&A. So CoStar in all the years, I think it’s like 33 years been going, you’ve made about 30 acquisitions and also pulled out of some acquisitions like Core Logic, which was earlier on this month. And Scott, what do these acquisitions mean for the business? How does it complement it? And then I also got a question, it’s a cultural question. So whenever any business expands, when any business merges you’ve got the challenge of maintaining your culture and keeping everyone happy, but why don’t we start Scott with a bit more about what these actions mean to you and CoStar?

Scott

So we are constantly acquiring companies, which is really exciting as an employee, it just creates new opportunities. But I think whenever we’re looking to buy a business, we’re usually looking at it in adding three things to our current business, so one is data, is there some data that we’re going to be able to add for our clients that they’ll benefit from? Another one is technology, there’s something that that business is doing technologically that we think, again will enhance what we’re doing. And then the last piece is people, are there some great minds over that other organization that are going to again, enhance what we do for our clients and through the years, we’ve had many. I’ve been through not all 30 of those, but I’ve been through dozens of those acquisitions.

And usually, it creates great opportunities for sales people, it’s always fantastic for your customer base and your prospect base grows overnight. And not only do you get new people to go sell to, then you also are going to be able to provide more value to your existing customers. And that is really satisfying when you’ve had people who you’ve worked for, for years, who were like, ‘Oh, I wish I wish CoStar did this’. And then there’s always that day, you get to tell them ‘Guess what we do it now, log in, and it’s just going to be there for you’, which a lot of our clients are going to experience in a few weeks time, I don’t know when this will come out, but with some hospitality information, and it’s really great. In terms of culture, CoStar is a bit of a melting pot, where we have our core culture but as we bring in different organisations, we do change in some ways with them. And we’re never afraid to change, I think our CEO, I’ve heard him say, if you’re always changing, then you’ll never fear change. And I think that that is a piece of what we have, which is as new things come in, you get new minds and new ideas.

And it’s been great, in 2015 we acquired apartments.com, and I went from managing the team then having the CoStar and Apartments team, and they were very different industries that service our customers in very different ways. And we had different clients, and it was a good eye opening experience. But what was just fantastic is that we buckled down, we worked as a team, we relied on each other’s strengths and help with where weaknesses were, and the company really, really flourished during that time. And we capitalise very well on that acquisition. And we provide a great information to our existing clients. And then we, we won a bunch of new clients as well and it was fantastic. And we’re, I’m seeing similar things with STR acquisition today, I’m in regular contact with my peers here in the UK on that side of the house and we’re collaborating and cross referencing and teaching each other stuff and it’s really fantastic. There’s challenges to it but it’s always so worth it because, first of all you get new people. And part of the reason I’ve been at CoStar for so long is because of the people on. So we get all these new peers that we get to interact with, you get new clients, you get to learn new things like what’s rev par and stuff like that. And so that piece that we talked about earlier, the curiosity and the desire to learn and to grow, acquisitions forced that upon you in the best way possible.

Louisa

Andy what’s your experience been of some of these acquisitions? You managed a team of 30 plus people, which I’m sure some of that’s come about through maybe some of the acquisitions. How have you maintained like the culture and I guess a good equilibrium in your team?

Andy

It’s a good question, I think very much in line with what Scott said, I think some of the larger acquisitions have been certainly at their onset, US focused. But there’s other acquisitions, like STR is a global solution. We work very closely with the STR team, the Realla business in the UK that we acquired, that just wasn’t something that was just rolled into the big CoStar machine at all, its something we put turbo booster on and it’s been a massive success and the first real push to the market over the course of 2020. And also the technology that Realla exhibited in their platform has actually been rolled out elsewhere in the company. So, it’s been something we’ve really admired about the company and expanded across the group, which is again to Scott’s point, one of the reasons we look at companies with something really special. So some of the realities are working with Mighty, and we’ve gelled really, really well.

And there’s a real collaborative atmosphere at CoStar and even at times when we’re all sitting in our bedrooms, it’s still that way. And everyone wants this success and the growth for the business. And when an acquisition is made, everyone wants it to work and gel really well. And there’s so many parties involved. If you think about the current project we’re working on at the moment. One of many in fact, STR hospitality data is just about to get released into the platform. As staff we’ve got that released yesterday and it looks phenomenal. But there’s so many people have been involved in getting to this point from our software development team, the sales force in STR, the salesforce in CoStar, and all the clients we have, the duplicate of clients that we work with independently so on. And it’s just a huge amount of work and effort that goes into it. But to see it all come to fruition in the product now it’s just exciting. And I think to Scott’s point, we talked about the skills and the attributes that we look for in people, adaptability is definitely one of them. We may be quite large, maybe the largest PropTech firm, but we are still extremely agile and we pivot a lot to what’s happening in the market.

And just last year in fact, with the push with Realla exhibited that. And in addition we’ve had a lot of clients tell us over the years that you’ve got analytics, I don’t need analytics for my job. That’s not what I do. And clients never asked me for analytics. But when you actually get under the skin a little bit, and you spend some time with those people and under find out if they need to find a vacancy in Marylebone, would that be useful to them to find out in a couple of minutes? That will be actually, or there’s market commentary that they could benefit from or whatever it may be, suddenly analytics becomes something that’s very valuable to them. And what we did in 2020, was we used a lot of good data from Oxford economics coupled with our own, and our analysts were able to turn out amazing reports and forecasting, which had the scenario based economic forecasting for every market in the UK. So you could say, well what if there was a severe downside, what if there was a moderate upside and so on. And that was an innovation that came from the market conditions and everything that was going on last year. So let’s just demonstrate, so we can pivot like that. And I think it’s really integral for any business to stick with your core ideas, to be able to bend and move off slightly when you need to, to achieve the success that you want.

Louisa

I’m conscious of time, and Scott probably wants to go celebrate his birthday, whatever he’s going to do and in his flat! But let’s go to the final part, the LMRE part. So let’s go with lessons you have learned in your careers, Scott?

Scott

So I’m a graduate of the Ohio State University, which is a great institution and one of our most famous American football coaches was a guy named Woody Hayes. And he said, you win with people. And I think that a lot of what he said was true, but that is a huge point in the lessons, like the team that you have working with you and for you as a manager are the most important thing that you’ve gotten. So I would tell anybody that a lesson like that starts there.

Louisa

And Andy?

Andy

I touched upon one of the pieces, which was really understand your customers, that was a big part. And also the question, “and what else?” I’ve found that I use that more now than ever, and it’s a hugely valuable. One situation you would use it in is when you’re in that discovery phase with the potential client, you think you’ve got a really good open question to find out something about their business, they give you an answer and not stopping there, probing for more, “and what else?” and getting them to really open up and tell you so much about the business in ways that they didn’t realise they were challenged with. And then also with your people, coaching them well, finding out what’s on their mind, what’s preventing them from success, and just asking that question, “and what?” It could be “what else can I help you with?” Things like that really just keeps the conversation going and gets people to open up.

Louisa

I think that’s such an important thing that you just said, it’s just having people or hiring people who are inquisitive, and see that it’s the best way of learning – asking questions, absorbing information, but frustratingly you can’t really teach that. You can lead a horse to water but it’s so difficult, and it’s something which I know I definitely look for when we’re hiring as well. You just want to find out what makes people tick, what are people’s problems? Whether it’s like a problem within their building and their data, or for us it’s what is someone not happy with their job or their team? Inquisitiveness is such an important thing to have in someone. Okay this is a chance for both of you to give a shout out to anyone or a product or service? Ideally not CoStar related. Scott why don’t you go first?

Scott

Our software developers, because they’re probably a lot behind the scenes, but they make so much of what we want to do come to life. And I think sometimes they don’t get near enough the credit that they should, because being able to draw a polygon on a map is something that we all expect to be able to do. But someone has to design that and then it has to work. And I think just the ability to do all those things that makes my job so much easier. And our clients benefit from it so significantly, so shout out to the software developers in the world. And there’s my shout out. I didn’t say Excel, Bill Gates, thank you for the tables!

Louisa

Andy who do you want to give a special shout out to?

Andy

My mum, no sorry! So many people to think of, I actually think my old boss in my surveying practice I worked in for, making me redundant, because all of this wouldn’t have happened otherwise. It gave me a good wake up call and the moment to really make a decision in my career. And actually, I think it’s easy to just get pigeonholed, and do what you think you ought to do after your degree. And I think that was actually it was a very big turning point in my life, and actually owned my focus I feel.

Louisa

And what about the regrets?

Andy

Any difficulty that you face in your career, hopefully you can turn it into a positive and learn from it, that’s one of the better things to happen in your life, is to go through some hardship and come up the other side and learn from it. And I think certainly in terms of learning and getting better at what I do, think I should have read the Challenge Sale earlier, it’s a fantastic book on consultative selling and really being insight lead when you are trying to engage with customers and prospects and we did some training on that as a sales force and the results thereafter were humongous. And it got everyone thinking more like a curious consultative salesperson and really improved the whole dynamic across the team and the performance across.

Louisa

Awesome. What about you Scott, any regrets?

Scott

I don’t typically look at regret very frequently, I guess. If I had to force myself, I wish I would have gotten into the property world sooner than I did. It’s something that I enjoy and it suits me so well. And there were five years of the beginning of my career that I’m like, ‘Oh, I wish I would have would have been in that space sooner’ but that’s a minor one. I’m very happy with where things have ended up.

Louisa

Okay. And now the final question. What are you both most excited about the future of PropTech, anything you’d like to share with us on that?

Andy

Well, hopefully soon we’ll be able to go to conferences and see some amazing people and amazing ideas, I think one thing is for sure, Proptechs going to continue to evolve. And people are going to come out with amazing ideas and amazing solutions that don’t exist today that are going to help industry evolve. And that for me is like a big white bolt, which is exciting. And I look forward to seeing all the great ideas that come along.

Louisa

I completely echo that. And what about you, Scott?

Scott

Similar stuff, I think the rate at which technology enables things to change, I’m just I’m so excited to see what we’re going to have the ability to do next, what things we’re going to be able to deliver to our customers and just the innovation that will come into the space that will be amazing. And then there’ll be second nature. I’ve been at CoStar long enough to remember when the iPhone entered the industry and so the idea of apps and things like that I just can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon and I’m sure it’s going to be virtual reality and people will be touring buildings from their will hopefully won’t be from their flats hopefully will be from their offices, but just the way the space will change with digital marketing and technology and all that other stuff that we don’t even know is going to be there yet.

Louisa

Unfortunately we’re coming to the end of the podcast, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you both. Listeners, we have been trying to actually record this for the last three months but because of diaries and everything we haven’t quite got around to it, so happy we managed to speak. Andy, why don’t you go first, what’s the best way for the audience to connect with you?

Andy

Well sure, thank you, Louisa. It’s been well worth the effort, it’s been really enjoyable, thank you. So best way to get in touch with us at CoStar is really just through our sales channel and we distribute that out as soon as it comes in. So if you go to sales@CoStar.co.uk, you’ll be able to reach any of us.

Louisa

Thank you both again, I’m looking forward to catching up with you after the show.

Scott

Any clients out there need help with anything, please reach out as well. Always happy to assist and for your super users. I’ll take the challenge. I will always be able to teach you something in the product. So happy to have to accept that challenge if you want to take me up on that one. But I really appreciate you having us on sorry for the delay, but it’s just how I wanted to spend my birthday, we just didn’t want to phrase it to you beforehand!

Louisa

Okay, well thanks guys and catch up in a mo. 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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