2.7.20

Episode 1 of The Propcast - Acquistions and Virtual Events

Click to listen to episode 1 of The Propcast here

In this episode The Propcast talks to Michael Beckerman CRETech and Gary Chimwa FUTURE: Proptech about Acquisition and Virtual Events 

The Propcast by Louisa Dickins, Co Founder of LMRE the leading Global PropTech recruiter brought to you in partnership with UK PropTech Association, The UK PropTech Association is a membership organisation to drive the digital transformation of the property industry. To find out more about UKPA click here.

This show will focus on connecting the proptechs, real estate funds and VC’s globally…and get everyone talking about innovation of the built environment.’

2.7.20

About Our Host

Louisa Dickins

Louisa started her career in property working at a well-known estate agency in London. Realising her people skills, she moved over to Lloyd May to pursue a career in recruitment. She now is a Director at LMRE, who are a specialist recruitment firm driven by PropTech and recruitment professionals, and Louisa oversees their 5 core areas. Louisa co-founded LMRE, and provides a constructive recruitment platform to the new disruptors in real estate. Louisa is also on the board of Directors at UK PropTech Association (UKPA).

About LMRE

LMRE believe there is a better way to recruit. LMRE focus on a more comprehensive, client led focus delivering exceptional talent to the right place at the right time. They are passionate about the industry and passionate about people's careers. LMRE spend time with each client to become and an extension of the business, and their transparency and core values help them grow with the sector. LMRE simplify recruitment and innovate with our clients and evolve the people driven, PropTech community.

About Our Guests

Michael Beckerman

https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-beckerman/

Michael Beckerman is a leader in the commercial real estate tech sector. He entered the sector in 2012 after a 25-year career in commercial real estate public relations, in which he started and built Beckerman Public Relations into one of the largest firms in the country before eventually selling the agency.

Michael now serves as CEO of CRETech, the largest event, data, and content platform in the commercial real estate tech sector. He also owns other successful brands such as The News Funnel, the largest commercial real estate news aggregator and The Content Funnel, a social media and blogging platform for the commercial real estate industry.

Michael blogs at www.cretech.com/michael-beckerman/ and is active on the commercial real estate tech speaking circuit.

Gary Chimwa

https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-chimwa-92601855/?originalSubdomain=uk

Gary is founder & MD at FUTURE: PropTech. FUTURE: PropTech is the world's number one PropTech Event. They are well established as the leading & most well attended global event dedicated to the technology innovation & digital transformation occurring in the wider Real Estate sector.

Since their launch in 2015, FUTURE: PropTech have expanded to 3 countries and have grown their database, community & attendee's to over 10,000 real estate professionals. They work with hundreds of start-ups and technology companies to connect them with established real estate companies such as asset managers, institutional investors, private equity, owners, operators, property developers, brokers, estate agents, landlords, professional services (legal, accounting, advisory), facility managers, architects, VC's, PR, media and more.

Resources mentioned in the episode

LMRE website www.lmre.co.uk

CREtech - https://www.cretech.com/

FUTURE: PropTech - https://www.FUTURE:proptech.co.uk/FUTURE:proptech/en/page/home

Re-imaging Real Estate Global Summit – register here:

https://virtual.cretech.com/2020/en/page/globalsummit

Insights From The Episode:

- “In the meantime, digital does offer some great alternatives for the rest of 2020. Making sure that we still keep people engaged, we still bring great content to our audience. And we still continue to focus on our vision and our mission, which is to just help the industry adapt to changing times and improve and come out bigger, better and stronger”  

Gary, FUTURE: PropTech

- “Moving into the pandemic now, what's really happened is one of the impacts has been on the real estate industry, that they have to drive innovation with a greater sense of urgency”

Michael, CREtech

- “We're seeing now more landlords, more brokerages, more asset managers come into the fold than ever before

Michael, CREtech

- “When you're constantly pitching to businesses… they never give you a full “no” when you're selling a product but now people are saying “you know what, yeah let's take this pilot into something more serious”

Louisa, LMRE

- “We had great content, we had great exhibitors, and then you had an ability for people just to meet and connect… so I think it was all of that which is making sure the audience was the right audience, based on what people wanted to get out of the conference”

Michael, CREtech

- “ We've kind of gone through the cycle of technology and innovation being viewed as like a ticking box or like a nice to have thing on the side. The whole world is changing and has to change very fast now, we all know technology is going to be a part of our lives, It's quite indispensable”

Gary, FUTURE: PropTech

- “All the cities and the communities we live in, they need to be better connected and serve people and be more human centric than ever before. So that's what reimagining real estate looks like to us”

Michael, CREtech

- “There's a point about not calling it just “PropTech”, to build environment and innovation… It's about reimagining the world of real estate in the future, and there's so many components to it. It's not just about the technology, it's not just about the deep tech that's behind it

Louisa, LMRE

The Propcast with Louisa Dickins: Episode 1

Louisa 

Hi everyone, and welcome to The Propcast. My name is Louisa Dickins, co-founder of LMRE, and board director for the UKPA, and I shall be your weekly host. Each week for 30 minutes, we'll be connecting VC's, prop tech start-ups and real estate professionals globally and assist in bridging that famous communication gap we all love talking about. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Propcast. Today we're fortunate to be joined by the one and only Michael Beckerman and Gary Chimwa.

Michael 

Pleasure to be with you my friend. Thanks for having us.

Gary

Thanks for having us indeed

Louisa 

Today's topic is on collaborations and acquisitions and looking at the future of the events space, listeners a bit of background to Michael and Gary. So, Michael is the CEO of CREtech and FUTURE: PropTech now, the largest global consulting media and conference company devoted to technological innovation in the real estate sector. CREtech's mission is to help the industry embrace, adopt and FUTURE: proof their businesses, CREtech's intelligence invent platform and sports inspires the next generation of ideas, processes, and people to champion the world's largest asset class. Michael began his entry into commercial real estate tech in 2012 with the launch of the news funnel, a customised news platform and subsequently launched additional marketing agency for the commercial real estate industry a-typical. Prior to that Michael spent 25 years in the public relations industry, having built Beckerman Public Relations into the largest firm in the industry specialising and commercial real estate.

Now Gary is a Founder and Managing Director of FUTURE: PropTech, which is the world's number one PropTech event. FUTURE: PropTech is well established as the leading and most well attended event dedicated to technology innovation and digital transformation occurring in the wider real estate sector. But as a 2019, they were acquired by the news funnel, thereby merging with CRETech to become the world's well, the largest global platform focused on reimagining real estate, which is an incredible acquisition. And I just want to say welcome to Michael from New York City and Gary from London. And how are you both today?

Michael 

Wonderful, Louisa. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really thrilled to join your podcast which I'm a big fan of.

Louisa 

And Gary, welcome. I'm so happy to have you both on the show. Honestly when was it that we all got together? Michael, you flew over, Gary, you hosted a drinks when we were all in the city celebrating the acquisition with a range of the other PropTech community, it seems like way too long ago.

Michael 

It feels like another lifetime ago. I had the pleasure of seeing you in New York before the pandemic hit as well. It's wonderful to reconnect.

Louisa

Okay, well Gary, Michael, I think we're ready to start the questions. And I think everyone wants to hear about, and Michael you can kick start this, but how did this collaboration between the two of you come about, when did you first meet? What was the whole idea behind it?

Michael 

Well so, we had been a building CRETech for a couple of years. And of course, our main core mission was to help the real estate industry, discover, adopt, embrace technology and innovation and as we were building it in the US, we were of course, paying attention to what other parts of the world who were also following the same mission. And the majority of everybody that we would connect with is very friendly and open book and very transparent. We would compare notes and I guess, because the US was a little bit further out front than other countries, we would just continue to have discussions about what's working with us what's not working, lessons learned, etc. And as I started to just survey the entire global landscape for similar companies, I mean, Gary's was the head of the class by far. And so I reached out, we connected and I had been to a couple of his events and heard great things, and we just had so much in common too, that the themes were the same, the platforms were the same, the core integrity was the same. So, we just started talking and collaborating. And then of course, as in my entire career I'm usually the one that makes the first move. So I made the move and said to Gary, "We should really join forces" and it worked out fantastically. It's exceeded all expectations. But we've been talking for a few years and just around 2019 really started to put the pieces together, and then we're able to close on our transaction, fourth quarter, for us. so December, I believe 2019.

Louisa 

Gary, when Michael made the move, you must have been so excited!

Michael

No, he could not give me the time of the day! Are you kidding me? I had to stalk him!

Louisa

Well that is classic Brits isn't it!

Michael

I wish it was so easy. Man, I had to pursue him for years, but he relented.

Gary

I actually remember it very differently! As Mike said, we had been talking for a while and had so many shared visions, so many contacts in common, everyone I spoke to was talking about him, and he was kind enough to just start helping out and introducing me to influential people within his network and that's how we kind of started I think - very organic, very much a case of him helping me out and myself trying to help them out as much as possible with small things, and we've just managed to build quite a good relationship. And I think it's so important with these things when you're collaborating with people, first of all, to work with people that you that you like and respect, that you have a shared vision with and also that, you can just reciprocate without any strings attached.

And then let it just naturally progress and I think that's really what happened, though, after a few maybe even a couple of years of just helping each other out. Mike obviously, then said, “Look, let's do this in a more formal way” and I was like, “Okay, sounds good. Let's talk business, let's cut to the chase!” Then it all happened really quickly, within like, a two to three month period. We got the lawyers involved, got the teams involved and I think we were both very pleased to just get it going and get it closed, just before the end of 2019. I think it was really great timing as well, because obviously the landscapes really changed coming into 2020. But I think we found great strength in our respective teams to focus on new challenges, but the vision remains the same. In fact, we think that there is even more opportunity now that we feel that these things that we've been talking about for years, are now we're going to get accelerated. So, yes, I think we both feel it's really exciting time now.

Louisa 

Yes, I think the general  consensus and what I heard of your collaboration was, everyone's like “brilliant!”

How you do events are on a bigger and larger scale. and all these PropTechs globally connecting, it can only mean I guess good things. For when you say things accelerate during these times, what are the main things that's accelerated I guess the growth of this or the sector and the event space, particularly? Gary?

Gary 

Yeah, so I think that the obvious one from the events perspective is that social distancing rules are here for obvious reasons, for everyone's health and safety, so it just won't be possible for events that we all know anymore. Everything's digital, which is fine, because, there's a lot of advantages to that, for example, you can connect from anywhere in the world, it's obviously better for the planet. And you can have a lot more content. So, that that in itself is has got a lot of advantages, but ultimately, people are social beings and we'll all need to connect and shake hands and we all hope to be able to do that very soon. But in the meantime, digital does offer some great alternatives for the rest of 2020. Making sure that we still keep people engaged, we still bring great content to our audience. And we still continue to focus on our vision and our mission, which is to just help the industry adapt to changing times and improve and come out bigger, better and stronger. Yeah, we feel very strongly that the digital channels will still offer a really good opportunity that way.

Louisa 

Yeah. Michael, is anything you'd like to add to that?

Michael

Yeah, I would just, I would just add to what Gary's saying, Louisa is that I think previously we were all really, really ecstatic about the number of start-ups that had emerged on the scene. At one time, I think we counted or collaborated with our friends at MIT and found that there would like 7000, something like that, globally. The amount of money that had come into the ecosystem was extraordinary. Just over the last couple of years, and our conferences, of course, we were doubling in size every year in terms of attendance in scale, the last one that we had done in Brooklyn, and we're well over 2000 people

Louisa

That's a good event Michael, that's one of the best events I've been to

Michael 

Thank you for all your support! But I think those of us that, like you and Gary, of course, that were really immersed in the ecosystem knew that adoption was still lagging, even though all these great numbers, enthusiasm and buzz was happening in the marketplace. So I think, just that moving into the pandemic now, what's really happened is one of the impacts has been on the real estate industry, that they have to drive innovation with a greater sense of urgency. So, I do feel that now, in this horrific environment, I mean, it's horrible on a on human scale, on an economic scale, but in the real estate industry, they're really being forced now to give a much, much more serious look at innovation and technology, because their buildings, their operations, were not ready for this environment. Most companies weren't, but I think, particularly real estate.

So there's a whole host of technologies that now are really getting the sense of urgency to be adopted, whether it's building access, or whether it's the way that spaces are monitored in terms of usage and people flow. I mean, all the way through to how companies manage their own assets, portfolios, etc. There's just such an emphasis now on adoption. So, I wish it were for different purposes, but we're seeing now more landlords, more brokerages, more asset managers come into the fold than ever before. So, I think that's one of the things that we're gonna look at and see that this was a historic time for mostly for bad reasons but in our sector, I think it's gonna accelerate adoption.

Louisa 

Yes, that's definitely what I've been hearing and it seems like things are definitely picking up and there was optimism going around, I think people are excited. If we're just focusing on the business side of the next  like few months when people start resuming going to the back to work, whatever that  means, but business seems to be picking up, sales and lots of virtual real estate. Different platforms I've spoken to I think they've definitely seen growth in uptake and it's really nice that people will finally see an uptake, when you're constantly pitching to businesses, they never give you a full “no” when you're selling a product but now people are saying “you know what, yeah let's take this pilot into something more serious.”

Would you say so between the US market and the UK market out in terms of events, what's the big difference that the public cry out for? Like Michael, have you seen a difference, why do people mostly go to go to CREtech?  And compare it to why do the Brits go to a FUTURE: PropTech? Are people there to obviously learn about, I guess, new information products in the market? Are people there to connect people? What's the main driver behind people attending your events? Like what differentiates it?

Michael 

That's a great question. I think on our end, what we've really, really tried to be very disciplined about is curating great content. And if y if you're on a stage at CREtech, you really had to pass the muster to get on that stage. You really have to be somebody that's got great gravitas and knowledge about the topics that we're talking about. And so you want to see a lot of self-promotion or a lot of pitching, you would see people that really were leading the way. So when you look at all the brands that were on stage, whether it's , the Avalon Bay, or Brookfield, or Prologis, or Boston properties, CBRE, the JLLs, etc, you had the highest echelon of highest calibre of professionals speaking. And I think, and when we also learned and Gary helped with this a lot, was to bifurcate the content side. From the actual tradeshow side and the on tradeshow side, you had just wonderful, wonderful technologies and entrepreneurs that were on display, that people were just buzzing around so, and then we worked really, really hard. We used an app called Brella, which I love.

Louisa 

I love Brella! It's incredible. I run a PropTech recruitment firm and I set up 20 meetings with early and late stage start-ups, and the VC's of people that wanted to learn about spaces connect to people and it was incredible. Fifteen minutes, everyone knows what you're there for, and it was brilliant.

Michael 

Thank you, my friend. And that was the third component. So we had great content, you had great exhibitors, and then you had an ability for people just to meet and connect. And we had all these zones, and we bifurcated all of those different areas. So over a couple days, we wanted to make sure it was when you showed up at one of our conferences, that there was an ROI for you, that you took away some kind of business that you wanted, either, like you said, a connection or knowledge. Or if you were a start-up, a technology company that was displaying your products and services, you got business so I think it was all of that which is making sure the audience was the right audience based on what people wanted to get out of the conference. And we saw the same thing with Gary exactly the same thing. And again, I learned a lot from just participating and speaking it is and walking the floor and, it was the same kind of DNA.

Louisa 

Is it quite difficult to get the right balance between say, where we get the start-ups, the VCs, the landlords, the real estate guys, how do you attract all of them to one event? It must be so difficult finding that sort of balance.

Michael 

I mean, you're an expert at this, I'm not telling you something you don't know. But what we worked really, really hard on at CREtech and also FUTURE: PropTech, same thing, was building this community. So when the community, years ago, it was it was literally dozens of people. And then it got to about 10,000. And then it got to about 50,000. And now collectively, we're well over 100,000 professionals, and you just take the time to talk to people and you help them. So, I'm connecting on a daily basis with the heads of innovation of a construction company or a big landlord or brokerage firm and the same thing on the start-ups and professionals like yourself, I mean, we want the law firms there, you want the investment bankers there, you want everybody from all walks of life and one of the things that I've been doing really interesting for me is  now stepping outside of the real estate world and into other sectors such as big tech companies or fintech companies that are now looking at our industry and wanting to come in, so it's just a fascinating journey but it's all about community building when you say Gary?

Gary 

As you rightly said, it's really big. Real estate in itself is the world's largest asset class. And, we've kind of gone through the cycle of technology and innovation being viewed as like a ticking box or like a nice to have thing on the side. To now obviously where the whole world is changing and has to change very fast now, we all know technology is going to be a part of our lives, It's quite indispensable now. It's been absolutely fascinating to see all these different elements coming together, it's not just the VCs, they need the start-ups, they need, the recruiters and people that help them to get talent. They need the lawyers, they need, you know, all the traditional guys to be the end customers. So it's this really massive ecosystem come together and make it what it is.

Louisa 

Yeah. And okay, so I believe you guys have some exciting news about a potential event or conference, which will be coming to us. Gary, do you want to tell us a little bit about what you have planned for the listeners?

Gary 

Yeah, absolutely. So we are holding our very first global virtual summit, which will take place on 27th and 30th July, so it's over four days, and our global summit is titled “Re-imagining Real Estate”, so I am very excited to be doing that it's going to be a digital first experience. So we have invested into a really great platform that allows people to hear great keynotes and actually interact quite easily with other attendees. So, it won't replicate a physical event, but it's a very good digital experience. It's not just a collection of zoom presentations with all due respect to the zoom platform! That doesn't always work well in a setting of over a thousand people which is what the dedicated platform is built for. So, we really looking forward to that. The focus of the of the event over the four days is really content driven. And we think it's a great time to be really focusing on what reimagining real estate looks like not just from the perspective of going back to the office, but our entire lives have changed. We all know that, you can be as productive if not more productive working from home, well, companies will have to work harder to justify why they want employees to come back to work. That means they have to rethink how the office space looks and therefore, what their leases look and therefore, how investors value them. And all these domino effects are going to happen,  we all talking about going back to the work safely so health and safety's now paramount, every single company in the world, and then on a wider scale, it's all the cities and the communities we live in, , they need to be better connected and serve people and be more human centric than ever before. So that's what reimagining real estate looks like to us so it's very high level. And we've got a great roster of speakers that we're going to bring on board, a lot of CEO's of leading real estate companies. I'll let Michael add more to that. But that's the quick overview. Really excited.

Louisa 

Sounds very exciting, Michael, take it away.

Michael 

Thanks. Well said guys. So, I look at this as not by default are we doing a virtual conference, I think this is going to be part of our core offerings forever now because I'm so excited by it when you go through the logistics of it, it's just a different structure for us also and for the speakers like it's just an easier format to program because people don't have to travel, and some people you can get extraordinary speakers a little bit more easily because  their schedules are not so crazy and just got a book time with them to virtually interview them. So, I think you're going to see from us just an extraordinary calibre of speakers from around the world over the four days. I'm super, super, super excited by it. And I think to Gary's point, we're rebranding, and we're launching, we've already launched it. But we're launching a new website, hopefully soon. That's all about reimagining real estate. So it's less about, “PropTech” that's about specific technologies as it is, let's talk to the real estate industry at large about adopting innovation as a culture. It's part of their company's DNA. It's part of their philosophy of how they hire, how they train, how they educate. And yes, you're going to use a lot of tools along the way. But let's just go higher and think bigger. So reimagining real estate is all about like Gary said, it's everything. It's your core operations. It's the people that you hire. I mean, that's your world, Louisa and you're great at it, to what your properties look like, because they're going to have to be rethought going forward. So super, super excited by it. And I know that we're going to do it every year going forward. It'll be the largest global virtual conference ever held and we're really really excited.

Louisa 

But it sounds like you guys have been extremely busy, which is which is good to hear. Unfortunately, we're coming to the end of the show. But once again, congratulations on the acquisition. I can't wait for the global virtual summit as well in July. And before we go, how can our audience and listeners hear more about the summit and connect?

Michael 

Well, for me, it's my email Michael@cretech.com my team's going to kill me for making myself so available! But I do enjoy conversations with people from around the world about this topic and I'm always willing and want to learn more so but for me, it's Michael@Cretech.com and , our website cretech.com as well and we'll be making some announcements about the conferences and other exciting plans that are coming.

Louisa 

Awesome and what I can do for everyone, I will put all the links to the website and also when we get the details of the global virtual summit. And so you can subscribe to them, you can get involved in the four day event. And yeah, once again, thank you so much, Michael and Gary for coming on.

Michael 

Thank you so much. And listen, thank you for all your support of our companies, of our industry, everywhere we go, we see you and your team, and you're just a wonderful connector, you're a great resource. And you do really, really important work in the ecosystem. And we're just deeply appreciative of you and all that you and your colleagues do

Louisa 

Oh that means a lot. Yeah, I love networking, am excited about it. I think it's really interesting, the point you made about not calling it just “PropTech”, to build environment and innovation, but you're completely right. It's about reimagining the world of real estate in the future, and there's so many components to it. It's not just about the technology, it's not just about the deep tech that's behind that. And that will make a very good idea for actually, maybe our next podcast. But thank you again. And yeah, details to follow.

Michael 

Thank you, my friend, really enjoyed it.

Louisa 

Thank you for joining us this week on The Propcast and a big thanks to our special guests.

Make sure you visit our website www.lmre.co.uk here you can subscribe to our show, or you'll find us on iTunes and Spotify where all good content is found. While you're at it, if you found value in the show, we'd appreciate if you could rate and review us on iTunes. Or if you could simply spread the word. Be sure to tune in next Tuesday, and I'll catch you later.

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