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The real estate industry is not immune to the relentless wave of tech-driven innovation that is reshaping the global economy, and changing the way customers access information and interact with companies.
At Charter Hall, we believe the best way to meet the opportunities and challenges of this disruption is to foster a culture of agile thinking, entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. We have built this culture to ensure we keep learning, and keep talking to our customers about their changing needs so we can deliver smart property solutions.
Chief Technology Officer Aidan Coleman says Charter Hall has been on an “innovation journey” for some time now, and our company’s 2018 Proptech Accelerator program for start-ups and entrepreneurs was a logical extension of this:
“The start-up ecosystem was a natural place for us to get involved, as we’ve spent the previous two to three years developing our own innovation processes,’’ says Aidan. “It was the right time to look outside of our organisation to build mutually beneficial relationships.
“What we've seen in the last year or two is an explosion of new technology emerging in the real estate space, which is one of the reasons why we felt we needed to get a handle on what was happening through our Accelerator program.
“We see great opportunities in terms of investment, learning, creating a broader awareness right across the business of the opportunities and potential disruption that may come through proptech. This is the next stage in the evolution of our digital and technology strategy.’’
An Australasian first
The 13-week Charter Hall Proptech Accelerator program, the first of its kind in Australasia, was run in conjunction with corporate innovation consultants Collective Campus and designed to maximise participating start-ups’ chances of success by arming them with knowledge, networks and funding opportunities.
At the same time, it gave Charter Hall the opportunity to assess the viability of their business models, as well as their alignment with our business and where we could add value.
From an initial 50 applicants, 15 were chosen to participate in a two-day boot camp with industry mentors.
Four startups were then selected to go through the program, and they were joined by a fifth internal Charter Hall team working on an in-house innovation initiative. The aim of the program was to deliver 13 months of growth in 13 weeks through highly targeted product development and marketing strategies.
Range of proptechs
Proptech can be broadly categorised into three fields: technology to create smarter buildings and assets; the shared economy, which can deliver more value from spaces; and property fintech, which promises to change real estate financial processes. Between them, the five Charter Hall Accelerator program participants cover the entire spectrum.
Property fintech Estate Baron is a crowdfunding platform that links property developers with mum-and-dad investors. At the same time, founder Moresh Kokane is also developing a blockchain-based fractional property marketplace. Charter Hall is working with Moresh to assess how this technology could be used to provide a more frictionless customer experience for international investors in our funds.
The vision of start-up Inspace XR is to transform the way buildings are designed, constructed and sold through the use of virtual and augmented reality. Their unique product automatically converts architects’ CAD designs into virtual reality with one click.
InSpace XR and Charter Hall are collaborating to investigate how virtual reality could optimise the design-and-build process for new assets, and to market properties both to investors and to prospective tenants
Tech firm Snaploader’s world-first software creates interactive 3D models of buildings that can be easily viewed from any angle, on any mobile or desktop device, without the need to download an app or program. It has already proven a potent tool for off-the-plan property marketing, and could also enable potential Charter Hall tenants to remotely visualise and assess spaces such as warehouses and offices available for lease.
Bricks + Agent is a cloud-based business that streamlines property maintenance by bringing property managers, tradies, tenants and owners together on a friction-free platform, enabling them to manage jobs without site visits. Bricks + Agent’s solution was developed for the residential market, but together with Charter Hall they are exploring its application in the commercial space, where property maintenance is a significant expense item.
Flexi-spaces was developed by an in-house Charter Hall team in response to discussions with tenants around their pain points. It is a digital marketplace that will allow all Charter Hall tenants across office, retail and industrial to advertise spare space within their tenancy to any other customer of Charter Hall nationwide for short-term sub-leases.
Aidan says Charter Hall and the Proptech Accelerator program participants were all impressed with what it had achieved:
“The program has been a huge success and we are certainly keen to explore round two,’’ he says. “We’ll be looking to recast the net and fine-tune this further in areas that are most relevant for our business and customers, as well as taking on broad feedback and learnings from participants to shape a future program.
“This may include broadening program participants and focusing on specific proptech areas …watch this space!’’