What Are Your Plans For Proptech?
Lately we at bluesalve have been paying close attention to the red-hot market for proptech. Most of the buzz has focused on how these technologies are making it easy to buy, sell, share and manage physical properties. While proptech may be disrupting real estate, banking, hospitality and construction, among other mature industries, we see equal, if not greater opportunities in our own tech sector. For technology vendors, distributors and integrators, proptech is a new boomtown.
The IoT Infrastructure
All proptech scenarios depend on the same essential ingredient: IoT-connected intelligence in and out of the structure. This extends from the door lock on an Airbnb cottage to the building management system of an MDU apartment complex. It’s critically important to specify the right technologies on the first swing of the bat, whether it’s a new construction or a retrofit. Nobody wants to re-install or configure dozens or hundreds of devices. Nor do builders, landlords or building managers want to understand protocols, network configurations or OS updates. Professionals that do understand these disciplines, and how to maintain them over time, will find ample opportunities for their expertise in the proptech sector.
A Broader World of "Things"
Sensors are at the heart of all proptech infrastructures, and they’re driving the business case for new product categories and applications. In particular, proptech makes a compelling argument for smart appliances in the kitchen and laundry. Ask a consumer why they’d want a smart washing machine in their apartment that can be monitored or remotely controlled, and you might get a puzzled look. Ask an MDU manager if they’d like the same ability for the dozens of laundry appliances under their roof of responsibility and you’ll get a very different answer.
For the appliance makers, the issue of connectivity goes beyond the IoT. New constructions want to sell kitchen and laundry technologies to prospective homeowners, usually as upgraded options. Appliance makers that don’t have presence with the popular proptech platforms are at a competitive disadvantage. The same goes for vendors of lighting controls, motorized shades and lately, indoor air quality. It’s critical for these technology parties to understand the needs of this important new channel. It’s equally critical for the proptech platforms to understand the distribution ecosystem for technology and turn to experts that can advise.
Which Platform to Stand On?
There are already numerous cloud platforms designed to remotely manage proptech-enabled buildings. Picking the right one at this stage of the game takes experience, researching skills and a little bit of faith. The features and benefits of these packages are often quite similar, especially for smaller-scale users. For larger settings, support and security are the main draws -- often at the same time, because a security breach in an MDU is particularly disastrous. Which among the many startups in this new sector will be robust enough to deliver customer satisfaction day in and day out over the long term? We’re watching this space for the first signs of consolidation.
Focus Under the Hood
Work-from-home, occupancy sensing, smart kitchens and laundrys, shared offices – these are today’s proptech trends, not tomorrow’s. At its most modest, proptech is simply a smart home. As the applications scale, it becomes more like deploying smart home in bulk. Whether a 6-room villa or a 200-room apartment building, there are known commonalities that can be applied. Device range, obstruction mitigation, energy source, even protocols – these are all knowledge-based expertise that the smart home industry has been fluent with for many years. Those who have experience with these kinds of technology integrations will find great new opportunities in proptech. As Mark Twain put it, when there’s a gold rush going on, it’s a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.
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Senior Partner Lew Brown oversees bluesalve partners' health tech practice. Lew has deep expertise in consumer IoT, consumer technologies and consumer goods, and excels in bringing new products and technologies to market.