DiscoverREALtalk - Conversations with Commercial Real Estate LeadersProptech in Canada – with Courtney Cooper (Alate Partners)
Proptech in Canada – with Courtney Cooper (Alate Partners)

Proptech in Canada – with Courtney Cooper (Alate Partners)

Update: 2021-03-17


On this episode of REALtalk, Courtney Cooper, Principal, Alate Partners, joins REALPAC’s Brooks Barnett, Director, Government Relations & Policy, to discuss Proptech in Canada, the establishment of the Proptech Collective, and the future of the industry in Canada.

The episode covers:

  • The quickly evolving Canadian property technology space

  • The establishment of the Proptech Collective

  • The size and scope of the Canadian Proptech market

  • The impact of the Canadian Proptech community on the wider built innovation movement

  • Aspects of the Canadian ecosystem that make it so attractive for Proptechs

  • How can we grow talent in the industry?

  • Creating a more diverse CRE industry through Proptech

  • Trends we are seeing coast to coast

  • Prospects for growth in the industry

About Courtney Cooper:

Courtney is a principal at Alate Partners. In this role, she helps identify and scale promising real estate technology companies, provides market analysis and due diligence, and manages relationships with industry partners.

Courtney has spent most of her career in real estate —including more than four years at Dream, leading innovation and business transformation initiatives. She went on to work as an Innovation Strategist at Great-West Life, where she helped one of Canada’s largest financial institutions analyze new markets and identify opportunities for growth.

Podcast transcript: 

Michael Brooks (REALPAC): Hello, everyone, thanks for listening and welcome to REALtalk, the show that brings you unique insights from leaders in Canadian and international commercial real estate. I’m Michael Brooks, CEO of REALPAC. We have with us today is guest host Brooks Barnett, REALPAC, Director of Government Relations and Policy.

Brooks Barnett (REALPAC): Thank you, Michael. Today, we are talking Proptech. And if you’re an active follower of the quickly evolving Canadian property technology space, my guest should be no stranger. I’ll be talking to Courtney Cooper about Canada’s Proptech scene, trends we are seeing coast to coast and prospects for the growth of the industry. Courtney is a principal at Alate Partners, where she helps identify and scale promising real estate technology companies, provides market analysis and due diligence, and manages relationships with industry partners. She works directly with Proptech companies and is a board observer for some of the biggest Canadian Proptech firms, including Lane, Branch, and Eden. In 2020, she co-founded Proptech Collective. More on that later. Courtney, welcome to REALtalk.

Courtney Cooper (Alate): Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to talk to you guys today.

Brooks Barnett (REALPAC): Courtney, before we get into the formal part of our discussion, I wanted to ask about a dog that you had that act or acts like a beaver.

Courtney Cooper (Alate): Yeah, we got Dallas in March of 2020. So Pandemic Puppy, as they call it. And we went to pick him up from the breeder. His given name was Super Beaver Mike. So the breeder thought that he ate like a beaver or something like that. But it turns out that he actually does love to bring home tons of the biggest sticks he can find. I would call them logs, so does have some beaver like tendencies.

Brooks Barnett (REALPAC): Well, listen, Courtney, getting into it, I thought we’d start today with a little bit about Alate and then move to talk about Proptech Collective. So, you know, how did you start and move into the real estate space and what are you doing at Alate?

Courtney Cooper (Alate): So we found Alate in 2018. So we’ve been investing for the last 2.5 years. It was Dream Relay Ventures. Relay Ventures is a large Canadian venture fund focused on that as more generalist focus. And they teamed up with Dream, who I’m sure your audience is familiar with, to focus on investing in real estate technology and anything that can help improve the build.

Brooks Barnett (REALPAC): And Property Collective was born in 2020. That’s an initiative that I see some others from the industry are attached to. Can you tell us a little bit Protech Collective what you’re looking to accomplish there and how you’re looking to accomplish it?

Courtney Cooper (Alate): We founded Proptech Collective, actually, out of another initiative called Women in Protech. We rebranded it in 2020. But this is something we’ve been working on for a couple of years. And really what we’re focused on the Collective is how can we bring together all of the right people that are in the room. Right now there’s a lot of amazing, amazing tech companies and tech entrepreneurs that are focused on building solutions. And there’s a lot of real estate companies and real estate associations that are working on innovation, but often times they’re not talking to one another. So really what we’re trying to do is create a platform where these groups can come together. And we thought a lot about this because there’s lots of great organizations like REALPAC, like ULI, NAIOP, so many others. And so what we’re hoping to do is be able to work with those groups that are mostly real estate focused and help bring in the technology perspective and some other groups so that we can work on solving better solutions together.

Brooks Barnett (REALPAC): I read with great interest and congratulations to you and your team on the release of your first report Proptech in Canada – 2021 report. There’s a lot of really positive fanfare around that. I read the report with great interest. Why was it important for your team to start with the report and really do the mapping around the Proptech ecosystem in Canada? And how did you go about that work? Because, I would think that that would be such a monumental task, just trying to understand who all the players are and where they are. How did you do it and why did you want to start with this report?

Courtney Cooper (Alate): So the report did start out of curiosity and interest. It wasn’t like we went about saying, hey, we’re going to go publish a 50-page report. I think that it was October or November of last year. And a couple of us were talking and we didn’t know the answers. How many tech companies are in Canada? Where are they focus? Which cities are growing? And so we just started out of curiosity to say, OK, let’s do an investigation and do some research into this. And then it grew and expanded over time. But I think that it is really important to be able to understand what is happening here, who the companies are, how many companies we have, and just create a baseline of knowledge, because right now the information is a bit scattered. I talk to you and to the team in our labs and asked does anyone have a list? Does anyone know? And there are lists that exist on Pitchbook and others, which is where we went to start our look as well. But we didn’t feel like any of them had the landscape mapped out in a way that helped us really understand it. So that’s where we decided to create our own.

Brooks Barnett (REALPAC): Were you surprised that there were more than 300 Proptech companies in Canada?

Courtney Cooper (Alate): I knew there were a lot. And I think that is a lot. I knew a lot of them, but I spent the last two and half years on this and there’s no way to know them all. One of the questions that we talked is how do you define Proptech, what is and what isn’t? We started from a framework that existed. So Tom Best publishes a US market map that’s similar to this one. And so that was the best framework that we had because it categorized companies in a way that was pretty easy to understand. So within real estate, what kind of technology helps you find properties versus evaluate, manage and then you utilize the assets? And so that’s the starting point that we used. And it’s not easy, though. Companies or companies are changing. A lot of these companies are early and they can fit into multiple categories or might change over time. So it’s a starting point and allows us to at least start to bucket where there is momentum and areas where there’s a lot of companies getting started or companies that are growing.

Brooks Barnett (REALPAC): If you are following the space, you know that there are some around the world who have claimed in the past that there are in excess of 8000 or so tech companies now in existence. If Canada is around 310, somewhere in there, it is still somewhat a microcosm of the larger whole. But is it possible at this point to figure out what the Canadian impact on the Proptech movement is? Or is it still early in the ballgame to be able to make a comment like that?

Courtney Cooper (Alate): So I think the ecosystem is still early and growing. We’ve got some great companies. We highlighted some of the biggest companies in the report. So means that, you know, like Sonder and Breather and Lane and others. So there’s a lot of great companies that are here, and the other ones that have grown more have a more global footprint at this point. But at the same time, there’s a lot of really amazing companies that are at that seed and Series A stage that are working with large real estate companies or building solutions so consumers can make it easier to buy houses, things

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Proptech in Canada – with Courtney Cooper (Alate Partners)

Proptech in Canada – with Courtney Cooper (Alate Partners)