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Real estate is a unique industry that faces unique challenges. When you seek out new technology, you should be careful about the investment. Tom Spahn talks about what to look for in the investments and commitments you make, how to know whether that product will be a good fit for your company long-term, and how to spot a truly great team.
(2:00) – A lot of companies are being fueled by the new technologies that are out there. There’s new technology for every step of the way, including plans for already-existing tenants, technology to deal with supply, management of energy contracts, pet screening, and much more.
(5:40) — Not all tech solutions are created equal. Additionally, not all technologies are perfect fits for each company.
(6:15) – It’s hard for small companies that don’t have the manpower to innovate. It’s hard for large companies because they’re set in their ways. It’s important to really consider what will work and what will be a good fit with that team.
(8:40) — Things are starting to focus more on tenant engagement and on flexibility. Virtual tours, access control, no-contact delivery – things that emphasize comfort and safety are really big right now. You should balance real estate fundamentals and new technologies.
(12:00) — In the past, real estate has lagged in the technology side. The pandemic sped up the willingness to change workflows and accept new technologies. Plus, more people are coming into the space who’ve grown up with technology all their lives.
(13:20) – Any change is always going to be hard. It takes work!
(14:30) – Think about sports teams. They don’t always focus entirely on the fan experience. Instead, they focus on acquisitions of new players and team members who will do well, and thus improve the fan experience. It’s an investment, not an expense.
(18:25) — Still, you have to be cautious when you invest. Your reputation will be staked on their success.
(19:20) — Almost all startups pivot at some point. That requires a good team that can pivot.
(21:30) – Avoid make-or-break companies and focus on companies with reasonable long-term plans. Analyze the downsides and weigh whether the company would survive market changes.
(23:30) – When building a team, focus on how people speak about their business. Seek transparency and honesty, especially about problems. You also need the team to be well-rounded – the founder can be great, but everyone else involved should be great too. Sometimes bringing people in from outside of the industry can be good.
(26:50) — Understand who your customer is and what they need. The best founders understand having to justify changes in approach and budget.
(28:10) — The industry is wide open! Spahn thinks data will become more important for driving decisions. Smart buildings are on the come-up. In the construction space, because costs are going up, that’ll change how things are built.
(31:30) – Opening the dialogue and having a running conversation is important. Maybe you run into a company when it’s too early in the planning stages, but they might later be a good fit. Bring operators into that conversation.
(33:00) – Right now, the larger players are dominating. They’re likely to acquire some of the smaller companies. But, there could be other competitors coming along and challenging that dominance a few years down the road.
(34:00) – Operators need to keep an open mind and be willing to try new products and new solutions. There are a lot of exciting developments right now. At least try to have the conversations and think critically about the technologies out there that could benefit your business.
(35:10) – Spahn wants to add value to his portfolio companies and help other investors to find new wins.
Patrick Antrim is the Founder of Multifamily Leadership, LLC, a thought leadership platform providing streaming content around technology, innovation, and leadership. He also produces two of the highest level events in the Multifamily Apartment industry. The Multifamily Leadership brand is preparing Multifamily Leaders for the FUTURE. They honor the Best Places to Work in Multifamily®️ at our annual leadership Innovation summit.