Last week in New York City, event organizer Reed MIDEM and PropTech accelerator MetaProp NYC brought together global leaders in real estate, technology and venture capital at the MIPIM PropTech Summit – the flagship event of NYC Real Estate Tech Week, which propmodo.com was pleased to sponsor. The all-day event provided the 800+ attendees an opportunity to catch up on the latest trends, find investment partners, network, and discover innovative technologies.

Keynote speakers included Al Goldstein, CEO of Avant Inc., a tech enabled personal loan platform; James Patchett, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation who shared a government perspective; and Marty Burger, CEO of Silverstein Properties, who provided the real estate perspective. Burger said that people are at the center of every tech-related decision the developer makes. “Today, real estate is not about buildings. It’s about people and how they live their lives. The industry is starting to look at real estate as a service – both on a commercial and a residential front, and those who embrace tech responsibly and strategically will succeed. If we ignore tech, we jeopardize our position.”

Chris Grigg, CEO of British Land, agreed, noting: “Whereas Google and Facebook are very much ahead of their audiences, shaping their needs, the real estate industry is following the customer’s lead in order to meet their needs. It’s all about the big picture, including strategic decisions as to which technologies make the most sense and determining whether it’s a simple case of adding features, or the much larger project of rethinking the entire system.”

The industry is starting to look at real estate as a service – both on a commercial and a residential front, and those who embrace tech responsibly and strategically will succeed. ~ MARTY BURGER, CEO of Silverstein Properties

During one of the crowded discussion panels, five of the top international real estate CEOs discussed their firms’ commitments to innovation and how technology will change their businesses in the coming years. Speakers included Warburg Realty’s Clelia Peters, Swire Properties’ Guy Bradley, Brookfield’s Ric Clark, British Land’s Chris Grigg, Boston Properties’ Owen Thomas, and Equity Office Properties’ Lisa Picard who said that lots of innovation has happened in commercial real estate but there is still not enough attention given to the end user’s experience.

Doug Chambers, vice president at WeWork echoed that sentiment during a construction themed fireside chat with Matt Ables, CEO of Chicago-based event producer BuiltWorlds. “It’s all about the end-user experience,” said Chambers. “When you walk into a WeWork space, you experience a buzz – that buzz is collaboration happening.”

Chambers – whose proptech startup, FieldLens, was acquired by WeWork earlier this year – also shared some advice for vendors who might want to do business the co-working giant: “We build everything digitally, if sub contractors can’t model their work, they don’t work with us.”

Scott Leibold, RELX Executive Vice President and Global Head of Purchasing and Property, participated in a discussion panel about new innovations in corporate real estate and facility management. Leibold cited three macotrends impacting his firm’s leasing decisions: “Sharing, because that determines how much space we’re going to take. Urbanization because that determines where we are going to take space. And globalization because that drives our preference for short term leases because we simply just don’t know what’s going to happen. We can’t predict headcount 7-10 years out. We thought we could but we are no longer going to try. We have been favoring short term leases for the past 7 years and I think the new lease accounting standards are going to accelerate that within companies.”

In an interesting twist on the networking lunch, event organizers gave each table a topic to discuss to allow participants to exchange ideas and best practices and share their views and experiences on the issues that affect their business. Each table discussion was led by a real estate or tech company executive like Cindy McLaughlin, CEO of Envelope, Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO of SquareFoot, and Michael Mandel, CEO of CompStak, among others.

During a fireside chat about data data and analytics, the conversation largely focused on the need for increased transparency. Rich Sarkis, CEO of Reonomy, noted: “Data network analytics can move mountains – it’s not a threat, it’s enablement. We’re now able to convert raw data into insight, delivering it in a palatable way that allows for actionable report creation, and training algorithms to glean better insights and enrich generic data sets.”

For the third year, the MIPIM Startup Competition pitted some of the most promising and innovative startups against each other. The companies pitched their ideas and business models to a jury which included real estate executives as well as venture capitalists like David Goldberg of Corigin Ventures and Brad Greiwe of Fifth Wall. The startups were: Acasa, a consumer home management platform; BrickVest, a platform for investors and deal sponsors; Contract Wrangler, relationship management software; HiP Interactive Property, an investor’s marketplace; Kaarta, a virtual reality company; MC Smart Controls, a builder of water saving devices; PlanRadar, software for construction project management; and RealAtom, a commercial real estate lending marketplace. The winners, Acasa, PlanRadar and RealAtom, will go forward to the MIPIM Startup Competition finals at the MIPIM 2018 conference in Cannes, France, in March.

Pictured left to right: Warburg Realty’s Clelia Peters, Equity Office Properties’ Lisa Picard, British Land’s Chris Grigg, Swire Properties’ Guy Bradley, Brookfield’s Ric Clark,  Boston Properties’ Owen Thomas

Travis Barrington

Travis BarringtonTravis Barrington is the Founder of propmodo.com, a new media property focused on the commercial real estate technology scene. He is also the Founder of High Rise Facilities, a website and magazine for owners and managers of tall buildings. He routinely participates in real estate events and logs a lot of airline miles from his home base in San Diego.