PieLAB – Funding real estate transformation

Chris Rolls, CEO of Australia’s first residential real estate venture capital fund is my guest in episode 7 of The Proptech Podcast.

Chris has one of the best grasps on technology in the Australian real estate industry, and his VC fund has evaluated more than 480 startup businesses over the past three years in the space. In this interview, we discuss the future trends you can expect to see in real estate - which include a stronger embracing of the gig economy, and the disruption of ‘principals’ (that’s the people, not the ethics). He believes agencies are going to become bigger, putting smaller businesses under pressure.

We talk about how even the Accelerator space is changing in real estate with the arrival of new funds such as NAR REach and a plethora of commercial real estate funds. And as he calls for the industry to ‘act’ to collaborate and fund innovation, I put a bit of heat on him about the lessons that the residential space could learn from the rise of the commercial real estate accelerators. Enjoy the show!

03:15 Chris gives us his elevator pitch. Hear how to do it from a master!

03:54 Chris discusses the number of proptechs in the Australian industry and how the sector is growing. 06:18 Chris gives a quick overview on how the VC industry in Australia is growing and PieLab’s position in the market.

07:26 Why we need to pay attention to proptech – and the examples we can see from other industries such as media and music in terms of disruption – and how it’s not just VCs driving change.

10:23 Why property management is a key focus of disruption and how me-too portal products just don’t cut it.

13:44 Chris talks about the recent investment PieLabs have made in AIRE and AI and how the ability to organise data is a key capability.

15:37 Chris takes out his crystal ball to predict what the real estate agency of the future looks like.

20:05 How the gig economy could affect real estate.

22:58 How franchises are being disrupted in real estate.

24:37 The new business models in real estate and how we need to look at the areas where we have a natural advantage that we don’t maximise.

28:38 Chris discusses the natural advantage that the industry has through its data, how we abdicated that 15 years ago to the portals to give away a $10b industry – and the opportunity it poses today.

31:21 We discuss whether real estate has focussed on solving the wrong problems and the best way for the industry to collaborate.

34:57 Chris talks about the disruption occurring in the accelerator and funding space in Australian real estate and the issue is raised as to why funding only kicks in in residential real estate at the $1m revenue mark and how commercial real estate does it differently.

39:58 Chris talks about the Australian proptechs kicking goals in the US through the NAR Reach fund and why Australia’s diverse market and state legislation sets us up well to scale into the US.

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