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Proptech Espresso

Author: Mark Hurst

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Learn everything you need to about Proptech from the real estate professionals, entrepreneurs, and visionaries at the forefront of this evolution. Proptech encompasses the wider digital transformation of real estate as innovators reimagine, reinvent, and rebuild the real estate industry. It considers both the technological and mentality change of the real estate industry, and its consumers to our attitudes, movements and transactions involving the built environment. Are you ready? Join the cutting edge of the Proptech movement on Proptech Espresso.
87 Episodes
What is the definition of industrialized construction and how does this fit within proptech? Which benefits to construction should be realized with the adoption and ongoing innovation of industrialized processes? How does American foreign policy on energy relate to housing? How did a student group at MIT help shift leadership from traditional energy to sustainable energy? What is building science and how does it relate to energy? Who famously said "building energy efficiency isn't the low hanging fruit, but the fruit that has fallen on the ground and rotted"? Why has building energy efficiency historically been so catastrophically bad that it is nothing short of a tragedy? Where are energy efficient buildings best built? How does the reindustrialization of the US economy intersect with the future of housing? What are the 2 major things causing headwinds against the industrialization of construction in the US? Why does housing and real estate need to be a product vs being a project? What is causing trade unions to start to shift their resistance towards industrialized construction? Why are the margins of general contractors in real estate so small relative to other industries? Why have industrialized construction companies over the last 100 years typically failed to survive for more than a few years? How is ADL Ventures working to partner large industry leading companies with smaller companies to drive innovation in and around cleantech? What is an industrialized construction epicenter and why will this be a game changer in creating success in industrialized construction?Nolan Browne - founding partner of ADL Ventures, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and share a fascinating story about the Hershey family and their largely unknown success in industrialized construction. 
What challenges does the range of real estate asset classes present to technology innovators? Does an interdisciplinary approach to the challenges faced by the built world provide a beneficial approach? How did the concepts of ecosystem revival intersect with real estate during graduate studies at Stanford? Why has curiosity to improve the impact humans have had on the planet been a driving force for pursuing a career in the built environment? How did a diversity of educational backgrounds and expertise form the foundation of problem resolution at Kit Switch? What are the challenges of keeping people in mind when solving for built world issues? What is the Ivory Innovation Hack-A-House Competition and what did participating in this lead to? How did having a sponge mindset at Stanford help create opportunities? What does "Lighting up your soul" mean and how did it help set the business course for Kit Switch? How has bespoke construction led to many of the challenges around real estate adaptive reuse? What is the premise behind productized interiors for real estate? Why is room flexibility important for newly constructed real estate? Having been recently selected to participate in the Terner Center's Housing Lab, what does Kit Switch hope to achieve during this program? What opportunities exist for cities to reimagine their urban planning efforts and take advantage of more intentional urban mixed-use real estate?Candice Delamarre and Armelle Coutant - co-founders of Kit Switch, join Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss the challenges and the benefits of starting a physical construction product company during the onset of the COVID pandemic. 
Where do proptech and construction tech intersect and where do they diverge? What was life like growing up in a family homebuilder business in Finland? What entrepreneurial ventures did Harri get involved with as a kid to enable him to buy Christmas presents for his family? Did Harri's initial foray into software coding lead to a lucrative early professional career? What pulled an independent entrepreneur back into the family homebuilding business? How do you build credibility with the workforce of a family business when you haven't spent your entire career there? Why are the processes within homebuilding so siloed and manual? What did Harri see in BIM that led him to believe this would be transformational for the homebuilding sector? Why did Harri acquire the code of a CAD solution company? What were the early results of Harri's homebuilding company eating the dog food of the software code they had purchased? Why did GBuilder introduce environmental impact reporting in its solution? What are the benefits of a digital twin for homebuyers when purchasing from a builder that has digitized the end-to-end building process? Harri Majala - CEO & founder of GBuilder, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how a special bond with his uncle led him to chase a dream of earning an economics degree from the Helsinki School of Economics. 
Are WeWork and Airbnb proptech companies? How did attending SXSW influence and create a desire to participate in the startup technology sector? What large data problem was facing and how was this similar to data problems the MLS is resolving? How do you get a product management job without even knowing what product management is? Why do great technology companies fail if they cannot create a monetization strategy? How do unsuccessful startup experiences create a fire to do the startup cycle again but the next time around to do it right? Why is it that so many startup technology companies repeat the common mistake of not doing enough market research? What skill sets do you develop when going deep on market research to understand and become an expert on global industries? How did market research on smart homes lead to a job opportunity at Keller Williams? Why was Keller Williams so interested in bringing in experts from outside of real estate? What are some of the common misconceptions about real estate agents and their use of technology? Why are there so many agent personas in residential real estate? What about today's environment makes it ideal for innovation within real estate? Why has there been a shift in younger generations going to talk to lenders before they talk to real estate agents? What opportunities exist to expand partnerships with credit unions that at their core focus on member benefits?  Adi Pavlović - CEO of Newzip, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and share a story about his early days at Keller Williams investigating the technology investments happening within real estate and how his conversation with the leading market research firm at the time helped to shape what was and what was not included in the early definitions of proptech. 
Does proptech have a fixed definition or is it in a constant state of evolution? What makes Los Angeles a particularly challenging real estate market to have success in? How did a customer focused approach of relentlessly seeking opportunities for clients create success despite a limited track record in the luxury home market? Why is building relationships the cornerstone of success, whether as a real estate agent or as a tech entrepreneur? How do the sales cycles of luxury real estate differ from the typical house transaction and how does this mirror an enterprise sales process? What is the tech stack for a highly successful luxury real estate agent? Why don't brokerages focus more tech development and spending on lead generation? Has the proliferation of technology become overwhelming for the average real estate agent? What was missing in the CRM world for real estate agents that Rila helps solve? Which business scaling issue does Rila help solve for real estate agents?Ben Bacal - CEO & founder of Rila and Revel Real Estate, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how respectfully ignoring the advice of his successful real estate agent mother led him to conquer the LA luxury real estate market and sell some of the most expensive homes ever sold in the US. 
What is the real estate lifecycle and why is this different from other sectors? Why did Derek experience a rebellious phase during college that entailed exploring career options outside of the engineering track he was ushered down? How does one become a strategy consultant by accident? Why did getting to know a tennis shop customer lead to a career change into real estate development? What else did Derek do to go all in on real estate as a profession? Are the advantages to working in a small family office focused on real estate development? Where did Derek cut his teeth on proptech? What gives one the confidence they have enough knowledge to be a real estate development entrepreneur? How did Derek choose to differentiate himself from his real estate development peers? What are the realities of the underlying economics of the coliving companies that have sprung up in the US? Why do proptech companies have a history of never reaching profitability? Why are there so few technical engineers in real estate development? What are the implications of poor proptech investment decisions for real estate developers? What is the importance of real estate developers asking what could possibly go wrong when considering proptech investments? Why is the so much hubris in proptech? What makes it so difficult to solve the people problems of real estate with software?Derek Hsiang - founder of The Proptech Scout, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how the fight against a desk job led to a journey of monetizing his passions starting with a brick-and-mortar tennis store and its nascent e-commerce presence, which helped develop his chops as an entrepreneur and strengthen his grit.
Is the headline "Proptech Needs to Die" hyperbole or does it point to a distorted truth? What are the lifecycle stages of ownership and how does this differ by real estate asset class? How did an accounting close process lead to a career interest in data intelligence and analytics? What is the Netflix culture deck and why is Netflix's culture so revered in tech companies? Why was participating in On Deck so beneficial as an aspring entrepreneur? What are some of the challenges faced when transitioning from the corporate employee world into being an entrepreneur? As an entrepreneur how do you decide which opportunities to focus on and which opportunities to walk away from? How did the personal experience of building an ADU during Covid spark the idea for Builty? What were some of the technical challenges encountered when creating a unified set of building permit data across many real estate asset classes? How many municipal building departments are there in the US that permits must be collected from to create a nationwide platform? Why is building permit data not yet commoditized? How many synonyms has Builty identified for ADU in the data it has processed so far? What are the four different data objects that permit data deals with and how is this unique compared to other real estate data?Kat Gordiienko - co-founder & CEO of Builty joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and gives my favorite answer ever to the definition of proptech (spoiler alert: Kat's answer was "a set of technologies to modernize the real estate industry"). 
Why did Chase's parents convince him to attend UVA and how has it become one of the best decisions that he ever made? What program offered by the NFL allowed Chase to finish his master's degree? How did a degree in sports administration establish a foundation for Chase's future entrepreneurial endeavors? What is the difference between move-in day and turn at college campus housing? How was Chase able to create a nationwide company helping off campus student housing with turn from an opportunity where he was essentially doing it for free? Why is move-in day so chaotic and unorganized at colleges? How did this opportunity allow Chase to evolve his business into different service offerings that were less stressful and created recurring revenue streams? How has Chase been able to leverage his success and create additional companies under different brands as well as start doing investments in other companies to expand his portfolio beyond the student housing sector? What pain point/opportunity regarding move-in day for property managers did Chase identify and solve? How did Chase leverage his non-traditional tech background to build a successful proptech startup?Chase Minnifield - Founder & CEO of EZ OS joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how a blue-collar upbringing in Lexington, KY where you had to earn everything and nothing was going to be given to you, fueled his success in athletics (leading to a stint in the NFL) and ultimately opened the door for his post athletic career as a multiple time entrepreneur.
What does it mean to streamline the real estate industry? How might AI further seep into the proptech sector beyond content creation and visual generation? Will AI be a part of every company going forward or is this a temporary tech fad? What was it like to work (at the time) in the largest square foot building in the US? Are there unique challenges when working for a company that has both employees and unions? How many roles did Ali apply to at Uber before finally getting her foot in the door? What part of tech startup culture was particularly attractive to someone early in their professional career? Why is speed of execution so important for successful startups? What does it mean to build an end-to-end real estate investment platform? Why is it important for Getaway to be a co-investor on properties with their customers? Do young first-time real investors prefer complete ownership of a property vs a fractional share? Why does vertical integration make sense for the end-to-end real estate investor? What are the advantages of a referral based GTM strategy where you have a complex partnership ecosystem?Ali Nichols - co-founder & CEO of Getaway joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and share how a childhood obsession of dragging her parents out to openhouse showings every Sunday planted the seed for a future career in helping others invest in real estate.
Can entrepreneurship be taught in school or does it need to be learned on the job? What sorts of opportunities can you create for yourself by taking a chance and directly immersing yourself in an emerging space? How critical to scaling a business is knowing how to sell? Why is listening an underappreciated aspect of being successful in sales? Can introverted people actually make good sales people? How are entrepreneurs and sales people alike? What is attractive about real estate investing which you don't get from having your head in a computer all day? Explain a "garden city" and why is this structure so unique? What does the tech stack look like for the average real estate agent? Why do real estate agents consider most CRMs to be clunky? What unique factors create an opportunity to provide financial health tools to real estate agents? Why are mobile first solutions for real estate agents seeing better adoption than legacy desktop solutions? What entrepreneurial attributes do successful real estate agents have?How do you productize relevant financial information vs regurgitting existing financial content?Evan Knowles - Co-founder & CEO of Symba joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how his first entrepreneurial software endeavor despite positive outcomes at a small level had inherent structural issues which would prevent it from being able to be scaled to any material level ultimately taught him that sacrifice was necessary to have success. 
How did an internship for Senator Barbara Boxer lead to attending George Washington University? What transformative event happened while attending George Washington University resulting in a move back to the West Coast to attend the University of Southern California? How did a family event as a teenager in Ukraine spark an initial interest in real estate? Why leave a promising career in real estate investment banking to move to Hong Kong? How did an investment banking background prove to be a great building block for commodity supply chain underwriting? What factor about supply chain underwriting led to travel to more than 30 countries around the world? Why is Manganese an important commodity component of construction? How wasteful is the process of construction? What percent of carbon emissions globally is construction currently responsible for? What does it mean to be a net zero global community by 2050? How many years of landfill capacity does the US have remaining? What new technology is Palari developing to further accelerate offsite construction? How is Palari creating microgrids for one of its new home communities? Basil Starr - founder & CEO of Palari Group, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how an interest in skydiving led to a board position at the Jump For The Planet foundation which raises awareness and funds for climate refugees.
How did the desire to be a writer lead to an opportunity to be part of the emerging web 2.0 scene within social media marketing? Why were technical skills in account/brand management roles so valued by digital marketing agencies? What are some attributes of successful startup employees that can also make them not the best college or university students? How have the scope of problems that startups are solving for today become much more complicated than those being built in the early days of web 2.0? Have the barriers to entry for becoming a software startup employee increased or decreased since the early 2000s? What are the benefits of shipping embarrassing products that lack features and has lots of bugs? Why is it so important to have uncomfortable conversations with customers who aren't using your product? How many billions of dollars in deposits as Rhino saved renters so far? Why are thorny technical challenges so motivating for technical founders? Bryan Woods - co-founder of Rhino, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss his path to web development which came about while growing up as a 90s kid during the glory days of Geocities where he learnt HTML and CSS in order to build websites for multiple groups including his high school track team and a highly popular 2Pac fan website.
How did life on a farm stoke the entrepreneurial spirit of a young kid? What sorts of problem-solving skills were instilled as part of daily life on a farm? How did an advanced engineering degree further complement the entrepreneurial skill set developed growing up on a farm? How did a love for fixing cars and pickups create enough side hustle income to pay for college? What finally compelled a services based entrepreneur to transition to a technology product entrepreneur? How did a teacher dip his toe into real estate investing and property management? What experience with tenants and emotional support animals spark the idea that there must be a better way to manage pet policies for landlords? Is there a reasonability test for determining the validity of an emotional support animal? How big of a business is the online certification of emotional support animals? Today, how many companies are selling online emotional support animal certifications? What restrictive policy did airlines implement to fight the fraud around emotional support animals? How did HUD approach this issue differently than the airline industry? Why have property owners and operators historically been resigned to accepting all emotional support animals? How likely are landlords to collect on damages above and beyond the security deposit? What education can be provided by landlords to tenants on the legitimacy of their emotional support animal?Logan Miller - co-founder of Landlord Tech, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how a career as an agriculture education teacher (which included a diverse curriculum of mechanics, welding, plant science, and construction to name a few) helped create a useful skill of being able to get young people excited about a topic they might off the cuff dismiss as dull and how this has served him well in his professional career while being simple in comparison.
How would one describe the current state of skilled trades in the built world? What are the transitions that the construction industry is facing? How many open jobs in the skilled trades are there at the moment in the US? Why are skilled tradespeople in the workforce aging out faster than new workers entering the profession? How can an increase in diversity within this industry help alleviate some of the resourcing needs? How can we create excitement around the skilled trade profession so more people explore careers in these fields? Is there a pay gap between men and women in skilled trades (spoiler alert, no there is not)? Why are high schools no longer offering courses which help cultivate interest in the skilled trades? Why has it been historically difficult to find/hire women in skilled trades? What is the telehealth but for DIY service that Matriach Build offers? What does it mean for Matriach Build to be a trusted source of truth for home renovation and other real estate related projects? How has Matriach Build become a platform for like-minded skilled tradeswomen to connect and build a community? What are some of the marketplace tools and features that the skilled trades need that aren't being met today? Lacey Soslow and Gabriella Ainslie - co-founders of Matriarchy Build, join Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how a 20+ year friendship starting in college was strengthened by working together early in their careers and ultimately gave them the confidence to found a company together that empowers women in the building trades. 
How has the definition and usage of the term proptech expanded as the space has matured? Why has proptech innovation historically been extremely limited compared to other industries? How did effective data management allow M7 to differentiate itself for other real estate asset managers? Prior to Coyote entering the market, what tools were firms using to manage real estate asset data? Why did M7 decide to spinout Coyote instead of keeping it as a proprietary internal tool? What is the process like to take a bespoke piece of internal software, separate it from the parent organization, and turn it into a scalable platform as an independent company? How was the transition from being the CTO of an established real estate firm to being the CEO of a tech startup challenging on a professional level? What are the greatest technical achievements Coyote has solved during its spinout from M7? How do you successfully transition from appeasing all the customer demands of early adopters to building product to support your platform and saying no to certain customer requests?Oli Farago - Founder & CEO of Coyote Software, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how a corporate acquisition resulting in a difference of opinions led to the unique opportunity to spend six months doing deep thinking on how to correctly build a new asset and fund management platform from the ground up, efficiently and to scale from day 1.
Why is the reasoning from first principles approach so successful in unlocking creative solutions to complex problems? What can you do to differentiate true customer needs from the noise of what customers are asking for outloud? How long does it take the average homeowner to save up their down payment on their first home? Why does the real estate industry thrive on information asymmetry? What is the benefit to the individual investor of cutting out the middlemen currently involved with most residential real estate transactions? How can you achieve transparency with blockchain based transactions without completely forgoing privacy? What is the reason special purpose vehicles in the form of an LLC are commonly used for real estate tokenization? Why is Homebase co-purchasing a small percentage of the homes they are fractionalizing? What are the tradeoffs that Homebase made by prioritizing its legal and regulatory adherence framework? Has the US created significant disadvantages for web3 innovation with its current incomplete regulatory framework? Domingo Valadez - co-founder of Homebase, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how his experience growing up as the son of Mexican immigrants who achieved the American dream of purchasing real estate unknowingly planted the seeds for his passion around real estate and rethinking home ownership.
From a professional standpoint, why do people choose to pursue a career in consulting? What were the travel advantages of working with real estate consulting clients versus other industries? What were some of the challenges with working with international real estate clients? How did the opportunity to evaluate proptech companies come about within a real estate consulting role? How do generalized skillsets developed while working for consulting companies translate to being an executive at a tech startup? What are some of the challenges one experiences when moving from a large consulting firm to a startup? How does one overcome impostor syndrome when working at a startup? What does the role of global head of innovation entail? How robust is the M&A pipeline today given the challenging venture capital funding markets?Kevin Shtofman - Head of Innovation at Cherre, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how a timely decision to pursue an MBA (based on aspirations of becoming an investment banking VP at Morgan Stanley) allowed him to successfully navigate the great financial crisis and establish a career in real estate consulting.
Why can there be value in recreating the wheel when first starting out in a new role? How is it that renting an apartment is a much harder and more involved process than people initially imagine? Why have independent landlords traditionally been a neglected customer base for technology companies? How can customer conversations uncover previously undiscovered revenue opportunities? What insights can be acquired by attending customer meetups during the early days of a startup? How can proptech companies build everything you need and nothing that you don't for their customers? What was the lightbulb moment that convinced this aspiring entrepreneur to leave his paying job and make the jump to start his own company? Why does the independent landlord space have such a surprisingly strong community? What are the benefits of live chat vs a ticketing system for early-stage companies?Ryan Barone - CEO, CTO, and co-founder of RentRedi, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how his first experience of trying to rent an apartment in New York City while an intern at Goldman Sachs planted the seed for a product idea that ultimately consumed him and led to the founding of RentRedi.
What are the synergies between crypto and real estate? Why has crypto traditionally lacked good real world collateral? Is real estate's % of GDP as large in other parts of the world as it is in the US? What caused the housing correction in China after the initial privatization run-up? What are the benefits of decoupling housing ownership and occupancy? Can technology innovation help solve many of the structural inefficiencies that exist in real estate investing? Are there similarities between the debugging process in academia, debugging a startup, and debugging code? What are the uncanny similarities between the stages of a startup and the stages in academia? Why should founders think of a startup as a fluid concept? What makes MakerDOA the equivalent of the Federal Reserve in crypto? Which events contributed to crypto's current deep winter? What are the advantages of being able to offer Robinland's real estate offerings through Reg-D and Reg-S? Why have construction loans been a source of good investment debt on the Robinland platform?Scarlet Chen - co-founder of Robinland, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and discuss how her interest in housing and real estate was the result of her parent's regret of missing out on the massive appreciation boom from the privatization of the housing market in China because they did not understand the investment opportunity that real estate represented. 
How did partnering with realtors through creative strategies lead to a successful insurance business being built at an early age? What challenges do real estate investors who intend to be landlords encounter when trying to get real estate insurance products? Why is it important today to be where the customer is and not rely on or hope that the customer comes and finds you? How did the opportunity arise to work with many of the most prominent insurance companies? What are the advantages of partnering with complimentary proptech companies to build a distribution channel? How are entrepreneurs wired differently from career employees? Why do so many businesses forget to ask potential partners or customers how they first might be able to help them grow their business? How does cultivating a reputation as a trusted advisor open doors to new and unforeseen opportunities?Matt Sutika - Chief Insurance Officer of Obie, joins Proptech Espresso to answer these questions and briefly discuss how his dad's community status and financial stability combined with a healthy work-life balance inspired him to pursue a career in insurance. 
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