I'm retired now, so I read a lot. There are some incredibly smart people building incredible technology to solve real, hard problems.
And then I stumble upon blog posts by 'real estate tech entrepreneurs'. And I can't help but think they're simply the wrong people for the wrong industry.
And it's not just the few in the 'RealTech' or 'PropTech' industry that take the time to write.
Pretty much every property tech start-up is neither building meaningful technology, nor solving hard problems. Why?
And let's be fair, these are all very smart people. So why are they wasting people's time and money?
Here's what I see:
Lack of risk capital
Rentify and Purplebricks raised cash to build centralised agency operations. Sure they hire developers and tinker a little. But that's not tech solving problems. It's tech to sustain their operational efficiency.
Lack of domain expertise
The disconnect between what real estate tech entrepreneurs say and the things they do is stark.
Zoopla was founded with the notion of solving many problems. Alex Chesterman has done well to build and exit his business for such a high valuation. But where's the better world he preached about in 2007?
Zoopla is nothing more than a clone of Rightmove and now, thanks to some brilliant acquisitions, the de-facto number 2 UK property portal. The public can ignore Zoopla, and still all the nation's homes will be sold and let.
Opportunity to build a dominant brand
People hate agents. But there is no viable alternative.
Selling your own home is just too much work and stress today. Maybe conveyancing and mortgage approvals will be same-day in the future, changing this dynamic.
So whatever your product is, build a brand that people trust. Trust scales.
Opportunity to 'do a Fixflo'
Take a real world problem for estate agents (the complaints of annoying tenants) and make a simple solution that works.
Fixflo, now at scale, has the property world at its feet. It's generating revenue. It's loved by agents and tenants alike. And it's gathering momentum towards solving some of the bigger related opportunities in property management.
In light of the funding environment, take the advice of my friend David Batey (Nickelled) and "come up with a business that doesn't need external investment to get off the ground". Just like Fixflo.