There has been a great response to our proptech feature in The Sunday Times
Full article available here:- http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/introducing-proptech-the-new-game-changer-9lsxrbh72
All photos taken at Iconic Offices, SOBOWorks
There can be no doubt that the construction and property industries are being transformed by new technology, we meet the innovators representing Ireland in this emerging Proptech sector and the team supporting it.
The team behind Project RIPPLE: Ireland’s first shipping container home, have launched a resource website to support this emerging sector www.Prop-Tech.ie and are collaborating to create a PropTech accelerator programme, which will be the second in Europe. Speaking about the initiative, Property District founder Carol Tallon explains:
“Technology should set about solving existing problems in the market. This explains why development is primarily consumer rather than industry-driven. In practice, the industry is still working from the same understanding of the customer that we had more than a decade ago. Meaningful innovation must be based on what this current generation of renters and buyers actually want. And it is not just about current need, this new sector will need to pre-empt future needs. Technology savants need to reach out to seasoned property pros, or vice versa; there must be an understanding of the current system before it came be broken apart so that the vital elements are retained. Think of this like stripping down an old car for the parts; if you don’t know what you are looking at, you might not know what to keep and what to discard!
The property market in Ireland is primed and ready for genuine disruption. The possibilities are endless.”
Taking a cue from our UK neighbours, it was never going to take long for online estate agencies to hit the Irish market. Founders Tony Deane and Jack Brady merged more than a decade of property, sales and marketing experience to create Moovingo ‘The Estate Agent You Can Love’. Launching summer 2017, the business has already raised €250,000. This innovative model seeks to combine the personal touch of the traditional agent with all of the efficiencies and trust that technology brings. For the first time, sellers will have access to their own online dashboard where they can oversee all aspects of the sale. And it makes sense. With over 60 per cent of activity happening out of office hours, Moovingo allows people to book viewings and valuations, provide feedback and make offers 24 hours a day.
Having a passion for property, Tony noticed the property industry in Ireland was slow to embrace meaningful innovation and was stuck on a merry-go-round of human involvement.
“Today’s mobile customer has an expectation of an Uber-type service and estate agents simply do not offer this.”
WikiBuild is the brainchild of building surveyor and building defect consultant Damien Brennan and will be welcomed by frustrated self-builders everywhere. With close to two decades of experience, he has seen the best and worst of what the construction industry has offered up and is launching his industry resource website to provide much-needed answers. WikiBuild is a collective source of knowledge that educates, guides and advises home builders and home owners from start to finish by giving impartial advice. The aim is to rebuild trust and confidence between the industry and consumer that has been eroded in recent time. The content, while text lead, will be heavily reliant on video content to eliminate jargon and simplify every stage of the construction process for non-professionals, It is a collaborative effort of surveyors, architects, engineers and other credible, approved contributors from within the industry who are already updating, approved contributors from within the industry. Most importantly, over the next three years, it will evolve into a rate and review service for members, which will bring transparency and trust for consumers.
According to a recent Hayes report, 86 per cent of businesses are planning to recruit over the next year, particularly in the fast-growing technology, finance and construction industries. With an emerging labour and skills shortage in Ireland, many of these new recruits will be sought abroad and relocated here. Property Basecamp founders Tom Courtney, Will Mullane and Nathan McGrath recognised the unmet needs of returning and relocating employees back in 2015 and set about creating a digital eco-system, the Digital Property Buddy, to provide relocating employees with the ability to source the right, long term, rented home, tailored to their individual and family’s needs, that is available immediately without the need for expensive, short-tem accommodation.
Jim Urell has spent his career as an engineer implementing ICT solutions to address badly defined business problems and in 2012, he turned this focus towards the then-shattered property market. Through Property Button, he has facilitated a stream-lined, paperless move-in and move-out process for tenants and their agents; by digitising every stage, from generating documents that can be signed electronically on any device, to automating utility transfers, Property Button effectively brings much-needed transparency to the entire process. Their next stage of innovation, HomeHub, will introduce a tenant / landlord rating and review service , which will allow landlords to offer viewings and tenancies to the best tenants and allowing tenants to apply to the best landlords.
3D Design Bureau
If you have been wowed by architectural visualisations and images of yet to be built developments or new communities in planning stage, chances are, you are already familiar with the work of 3D Design Bureau. Established in 2014 by building services engineer Nicholas Polley, this poster child for the emerging PropTech sector has doubled in size over the past 12 months and recently opened a second office in The Custard Factory in Birmingham. Experts in Building Information Modeling, or BIM, they are well placed to support Irish planners, developers and builders make the transition to a digital world. Using virtual reality and augmented reality as powerful design and communication tools, they are allowing property creators to engage with end users, both homebuyers and tenants, in an impactful way.
Vision AR, provide immersive virtual property viewings to house-hunters via web, mobile and VR platforms that are optimised for both touch and VR navigation. Led by Sean Breslin, an early backer of Oculus, the company was founded on the desire to provide a solution to one of the worlds’ most common problems, the difficulty of being able to physically portray an idea, design or creation from one person’s mind and present it in a manner that can be understood by all, through the universal language of visualisation. The idea was inspired by the frustration encountered by co-founder Ciaran Canavan through his carpentry years spent creating bespoke furniture. Of interest to home buyers in particular, the team at Vision AR can also produce an editable environment of their scans to facilitate the virtual fit out of a new or newly renovated home so you can experiment with looks before committing.
Innovating from their base in Dingle, the Standard Access team has reinvented the humble key with a revolutionary yet simple, smart and secure platform to manage access to property and spaces. The unique smart lock and virtual key is delivered on a user friendly app to your smart phone or tablet. This entirely digital, cloud based, access management platform also automates the building management process – from leasing, listing and rent payments, through to access and security. As such, it is ideal for shared spaces. For example, tenants search for, book and pay for rental properties online; keys are then available immediately through their mobile app, ready for downloading. Founded by Damien Browne and Nicola Hopcroft, who bring a combined five decades of corporate and real estate experience to the business, explain that
“unlike other Smart Lock and Virtual Key solutions we do not use Bluetooth or NFC, we use a unique protocol, a SONIC HANDSHAKE, this is the key differentiator that sets us apart from the competition”
Irish man Ronan O’Boyle joined forces with Urban Intelligence co-founders Daniel Mohamed and Yeonhwa Lee in 2016 to create a centralised database of all the data or information required at planning stages for developers, local authorities, policy makers and planning professionals. This search engine is called Howard after Ebenezer Howard, the ‘founding father’ of planning. While it sounds complex, Urban Intelligence is based on quite a simple idea; if all the information that currently exists in a variety of formats across a variety of sources can be centralised and easily accessed in text format, then all stakeholders can make better decisions regarding the future of development. Currently this information is locked up in PDF documents and scattered across the websites of various authorities. This lack of shared information resulted in time and resources wasted on unfeasible planning, which leads to asymmetries between the public and private sector where one side has endless resources and the other is struggling to catch.
“Planning is inevitably a political process. One reason for this is due to the current opacity of the entire system. If we can make it more digestible for professionals and non-professionals alike then we move towards an evidence-based system whereby decisions are made on merit and not because of nimbyism”
One of the most exciting start-ups in the PropTech space, in Ireland and beyond, is the online platform Popertee, which is developing an artificial intelligence solution to help agencies and brands find retail and marketing space. Founded by Lucinda Kelly in 2016, the company has attracted more than €500,000 to date and is looking towards rapid global expansion. The business identifies unused or underused spaces that can be made available, almost immediately, to ‘pop up’ retailers. This innovative company is solving many of the key issues facing commercial property owners and tenant retailers, and it goes a step further by giving online-only brands the opportunity to get face to face with their customers in an exciting and engaging way. There is a palpable shift in the retail landscape right now and Popertee is at the forefront of this global change.
“I loved the AirBnB model and initially identified an opportunity to replicate it for the retail sector. I would be walking around town seeing units vacant for months and think what a waste!”
If passion is the driving force of any business, then Dublin-based, Italian co-founders Andrea Renzi and Mauro Di Porzio are set to revolutionise how we see property in Ireland. What started as a bespoke, technology-driven service dedicated to AirBnB hosts, quickly evolved into an accessible way for all estate and managing agents to take advantage of emerging technology. This industry has not been quick to embrace innovation, in fact, some players have been quite resistant, but the team behind 3DtoSell.com recogised this challenge and set about educating the market. Combining technology with strong communications and an authentic marketing strategy, they are helping traditional estate agencies to understand how and why to use these new tools to engage with sellers and enhance their listings.
Airsorted opened its doors in Dublin in Summer 2016, building on the success of the London-based startup. Established in London in March 2015, the company has just celebrated its second birthday. And they certainly have a lot to celebrate; in the last month, Airsorted announced a successful £1.5million investment round (€1.75m) and is now the biggest Airbnb management company in the world. The company provides Airbnb hosts with a hassle-free solution for managing their properties; booking requests are verified, guests supported, cleaning scheduled and linen laundered. Founder, James Jenkins-Yates realised that by creating a platform to do the hosting for you, that every property owner could become an Airbnb host.
One of the true disruptors in this emerging sector, BIDX1 is the latest innovation from Robert Hoban and Stephen McCarthy, the Midas team behind Space Property Group. By taking all of the advantages of buying and selling through auction and eliminating any of the perceived disadvantages or risks associated, BIDX1 actually re-designs the process for buying and property in Ireland making it easier, faster, more transparent to bid and more time and cost efficient way to complete contracts. Most innovations benefit one group, however, this game-changing concept will shake up the entire industry. It will give sellers the speed and certainty of auction and it will give buyers the transparency of the auction room without the pressure, all via a much-improved private treaty sales process.