More than 350 real estate professionals from at least 10 countries attended a standing room only, full-day real estate technology conference at The Altman Building in Manhattan last week. The event, called MIPIM PropTech Summit, was organized by U.K.-based real estate conference organizer Reed MIDEM and MetaProp NYC, a fast-growing real estate focused technology accelerator based in the Flat Iron District. CRE.tech participated as a media partner.
The highlight of a two week loosely affiliated series of events dubbed NYC Real Estate Tech Week, PropTech Summit featured a series of speakers and discussion panels punctuated by lively networking breaks. Panelists discussed the latest in real estate technology from the perspective of startup investors, real estate owners and tech company founders.
Notably, there was also a dose of New York City politics. The afternoon keynote address was delivered by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and earlier in the day, Paul Massey, President of New York Investment Sales for Cushman & Wakefield, took the opportunity to announce his candidacy for mayor. Massey, the co-founder of Massey Knakal Realty Services, which was later acquired by Cushman Wakefield, delivered a sharp critique of current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s work ethic, saying: “I’ve been at my desk at 6:45 am for 30 years. It drives me nuts that the current mayor gets to work at 11:30 in the morning. He’s running an $82 billion organization.” Massey said he built his real estate company, neighborhood by neighborhood, and his experience “is going to be a huge competitive advantage for our campaign and a tremendous asset in running the city.”
Continuing the political theme, the afternoon session included a discussion panel called Government’s Role in PropTech. Arie Barendrecht provided a tech perspective as the CEO of WiredScore, a company he launched in 2013 with the help of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Administration and New York City Economic Development Corp. Moderating the panel was Bradley Tusk, CEO of Tusk Strategies and Tusk Ventures. Tusk was also an early Uber advisor and former campaign manager for Bloomberg. Also participating in the panel was Karina Totah from the New York City Housing Authority and Ellen Zielinski from New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
“Please don’t give up on government,” implored Zielinski. “I would say over the past decade there has really been a radical change in the government’s approach to doing business with new and smaller firms. An attempt to put the kind of programs, the contracting mechanisms, and the funding in place. I hate to use the word seamless but we’re getting there to make it more seamless. Yes, you are going to have to fill out forms. It is the government… the strategy here is to create a better network so once we test technologies, we can help advance them.”
Politics aside, the conference was highlighted by several other influential real estate, venture capital and technology leaders including opening remarks delivered by Clelia Peters, President of Warburg Realty and a partner at MetaProp NYC. Other notable participants included Compstak CEO Michael Mandel; Rudin Management Company CEO Bill Rudin; Floored CEO David Eisenberg; India-based PropStack Co-Founder Raja Seetharaman; Nestio CEO Caren Maio; real estate tech blogger Duke Long and many others.
Nick Romito, whose online lease and asset management platform VTS is the current darling of the real estate tech industry, participated on a panel titled Best of International PropTech. “The way you’ve got to think about it is you’re basically building an entirely new business,” explained Romito in regards to taking VTS to London. “The biggest point of friction we found wasn’t that they didn’t love VTS, it was that a lot of American companies have tried to come in here over the past 30 years and made promises and they haven’t kept them so we put a dedicated team on it and we literally productized our U.K. version of VTS. There are features that are just relevant to the U.K. and we gained their trust. It’s trending to be our fastest growing market ever.”
MIPIM PropTech Summit also featured the first North American stop in the International Global Real Estate Startup Competition Series, which had its first competition earlier this year. Prior to the conference, nine startups were selected after an application process to compete in three categories: Smart Cities, Transactions, and Smart Buildings. Throughout the day, a representative from each startup pitched their business concept to a jury of real estate and technology professionals. The winners were StackSource, an online platform for commercial real estate loans, Envelope which helps developers visualize zoning constraints, and Ravti, which manages and procures commercial HVAC systems. The winners will go on to compete against startups from stops in London and Hong Kong at the final competition during Reed MIDEM’s MIPIM event, in Cannes, France, in March 2017.
After the conference, Aaron Block, Co-Founder and Managing Director of MetaProp NYC shared his enthusiastic take: “The fantastic reaction to the MIPIM PropTech Summit’s initial foray into North America confirms MetaProp NYC’s belief that New York City is the real estate tech capital of the world and a fast-growing economic engine of the industry. The critical thinking and personal interactions Tech Week produced will far outlast its events, while profoundly impacting real estate innovation everywhere.”