WeWork – A Cautionary Tale For All PropTech Players

As the year of 2019 draws to a close, it’s hard to forget one of the biggest lessons learned in the business world: WeWork’s failed IPO at USD 47 billion leaving SoftBanks to intervene with a ‘stimulus package’, which leaves WeWork at a valuation today of USD 10-12 billion.

For those interested in reading more into WeWork’s story, here are some informative pieces: Feedough’s “WeWork Business Model, an in-depth analysis of WeWork’s business model; Harvard Business Review’s “No, WeWork Isn’t A Tech Company. Here’s Why That Matters, which breaks down WeWork’s ‘taboo’; and Bloomberg’s video “The Spectacular Rise and Fall of WeWork to get a better grasp of the situation.

From this saga, we hope PropTech players take a step back and re-evaluate three important lessons:

1. Are you In the tech business or real estate business
Many start-ups often frame themselves as tech companies in hopes to obtain a higher valuation from a larger pool of potential investors. A business should only be classified as tech-driven only if the core business is selling tech as a product or service, as the high valuations associated with technology companies are their ability to generate enormous profits and scale at a fast speed with relatively low investment. In our view, WeWork is not a tech company and they should be frank with their investors to manage expectations.

2. The potential impact of the proprietary technology
It is hard to understand how much tech has played a part in WeWork’s business. WeWork claimed that they employed data analytics and another smart tech to improve the efficiency of their spaces, how people use their spaces, and where to build next. Yet, isn’t this the knowledge and insights provided by real estate experts (such as brokers)? While we associate the utilization of technology as helping businesses make better decisions, there is a vast array of tech companies that don’t necessarily deliver on this promise – WeWork included.

3. The recession threat
Some people argue that the sole reason WeWork failed was because of bad timing – this is partly true as WeWork is a subleasing business – while others argue WeWork failed to build proprietary technologies to protect itself during a recession – partly true assuming you agree WeWork utilizes technology in its core business.

In our view, WeWork’s expansion into other types of real estate improves diversification depending on its mix. For example, expanding the number of gyms increases risk during a recessionary period, as their occupancy suffers on account of fewer active memberships. However, owning hospitals and public-funded schools would be ‘defensive’ and improve WeWork’s resilience during a recession as these segments would ‘operate as normal’. If WeWork were developed as a technology company, they should have allocated more attention and effort on developing tech to lower their cash burn to ensure their clients stick around during bad times.

WeWork is a big lesson that should not be ignored. We hope PropTech players have not lured down a similar path in losing sight of their core focus: building technologies that impact and transforms the real estate industry.


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3 Key Factors That Drive The Real Estate Market

Before you start looking into specific real estate investments, you must understand some key factors that might affect your decision.  So, we think it would be a great idea to give you a quick reminder before starting your search. 

The Economy
The real estate market is closely linked with the economic cycle. Even if the property is sound, your investment (at least on a mark-to-market basis) might be dragged by economic factors. During the economic downturn, there tend to be some negative effects, such as the unemployment rate rises, and consumption level decreases. These combined might cause risks to your investment.

Government Policies
Government policies affect the economy and influence (both local and foreign) investors’ sentiment. During political instability, people might delay their purchases or sales to wait for the certainty of the directions and the policy implications. Tax credits, deductions, and subsidies are some of the ways that policy may affect your investment.

Supply and demand
Population demographics affect how real estate is priced and what type of properties are in demand. Additionally, social and cultural aspects might affect different markets in certain areas. Being aware of these trends can help you to think about your investment strategy.

All these factors are intertwined and it’s all about timing. Understanding the connection can help you to conduct a better evaluation of potential investments. If you are uncertain about what you want, speak to real estate experts! They can deliver the knowledge and insights you need to fast track your search. 

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The Forces That Will Shape The Future of Real Estate Investing

Global funding in PropTech reached more than USD 4 Billion in 2019, according to Pitchbook. It’s worth considering how technological advancements will shape the future of real estate investing. “The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future”, a book by Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine and one of the leading technology thinkers of our generation, forecasted technological imperatives that will shape and transform our society over the next thirty years. More specifically, 3 out of the 12 forces, mentioned in the book, will inevitably transform real estate investing on a massive scale: the force of sharing, filtering, and questioning.

Sharing
We now live in a world of abundant information – with just a few clicks away, internet services (like Google or Wikipedia) demonstrate the power of networking effect. Technology can enhance collaboration within a community on a mass-scale. Experts, from different parts of the world with different expertise, share their knowledge freely to foster better collaboration.
 
Filtering
With the abundance of choices we are exposed to, it is impossible to assess everything ourselves. Filtering is needed to select the few but right things we should pay attention to. With the combination of crowdsourcing, expert curators, and technology advancement, real estate investors can harness strong personalization to obtain tailored suggestions and the best available projects that suit their appetite.
 
Questioning
“Every year we ask the Internet a trillion questions, and every year the search engines give back a trillion answers,” says Kevin Kelly. The future technologies will unleash enormous big questions that we could have never thought to ask before. Promoting the freedom to ask good quality questions are far more valuable than good answers. Real estate investors will constantly explore to ask unique personalized questions to find the best result.
 
We at Denzity believe those phenomena will fill the gap – providing better-informed decisions to real estate investors for their increasing appetite for cross-border diversification. As such, we constantly challenge ourselves during our product design on how we can deliver a better experience for your exploration in the world of real estate investing. 

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PropTech: Past, Present, and Future.

PropTech: Past, Present, & Future

It’s no secret that real estate is one of the largest industries in the world, yet it is one of the last to adopt the technology. It is no surprise that a large number of startups have spawned to tackle this industry. Beyond headline-grabbing companies like Compass, Opendoor, and Airbnb, critical problems remain in our industry that entrepreneurs are yet to solve.

Since the 1980s, there have been three major waves in PropTech (Property Tech).

Early PropTech from 1980 to 2000: With the introduction of basic solutions such as Excel, real estate companies began to implement enterprise software solutions in their workflow to drive more quantitative approaches to their investments and portfolio management (such as Yardi, CoStar, and Loopnet). These solutions tend to be closed-form while requiring heavy customization.

PropTech 1.0 from 2001 to 2007: With the increasing demand to seek information, real estate online aggregators emerge (such as Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia). Like other social media and e-commerce portals, these online aggregators allow users to find incumbent information by leveraging their cross-sided network effects.

PropTech 2.0 from 2008 to 2019: As consumer-preferred access over ownership (the shared economy movement), companies (such as Airbnb, Opendoor, and PurpleBricks) are focused on improving user experience and participation. 

PropTech 3.0 from present to beyond: According to CB Insights, venture funding in PropTech from 2008 to 2018 has increased from USD 20 Million to more than USD 4 Billion. The increasing interest in PropTech has grown considerably as many pain points still exist.

We at Denzity believe the fragmented and inefficient process in real estate transactions need to be addressed and solved. Firstly, as investors have access to limited information and data set, they still rely on their intuitions when making an investment. Secondly, there is a lack of investment options that investors can access. Therefore, we want to introduce solutions to digitize workflows and elevate the transparency so that better investment decisions can be made.

Denzity Forum is one of the solutions that seek to solve a real estate investor’s pain point on understanding how to carry out the due diligence process properly before investing in a real estate project. The forum is always improving, and we always challenge ourselves to make it as easy to use as possible.

You can sign up to the forum here: https://forum.denzity.io/

Thanks for staying tuned and speak to you soon.

Darren

Co-Founder, Denzity


Ask Me Anything: Real Estate Investing Abroad v1

Hey everyone!

We have started a questionnaire with the goal to help people around addressing questions or doubts one might have on real estate investment. My buddies and I always geek out on real estate investing, and we think it’d be a great idea to share what we have in the pocket and pick each other’s brains, too!

You can join this community by clicking here: https://forms.gle/vYAduHAeWkJ57ueC8

By joining this group, you can let us know more about yourself or any possible queries within real estate investing. All user’s questions will be kept anonymous and private. In return, we will reach out to the community and find the right experts to answer your questions. And, it’s totally free! We will regularly inform the community about the questions and answers we have collected.

– Darren & Denzity Team

Website New Look

Hey everyone, after months of work and gathering feedback from our beta testers, we would like to show you Denzity’s new look and feel!

We are only a couple of months away from launching the full product and will keep you updated with our progress and upcoming events by subscribing to our newsletter.

https://www.denzity.io/

Denzity website New Look
Denzity Website New Look

Great turnout at PropTech Pitch Battle on July 11 2019

It was our pleasure to be one of the co-hosts for the PropTech Pitch Battle on July 11 2019.

Thanks for Asia PropTech for organizing together. Also, thanks Sidley Austin, Dimsum Venture, Great Eagle, and Booqed as the judges.

We want to help the PropTech startup, like ourselves, to share ideas and insights with other professionals.

We hope everyone had a great time and looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Special thanks to Bryan Wong for taking photos for us. You can find more about him here: https://www.bryanwongdesign.com/

Denzity is co-hosting for the event PropTech Pitch Battle on July 11 2019

Hey everyone,

Denzity is co-hosting (with AsiaPropTech and Dim Sum Venture) a PropTech Pitch Battle on July 11 2019 (Thursday). At Denzity, we empower PropTech entrepreneurs, like ourselves, by giving you the spotlight to present your PropTech ideas and solutions in front of real estate experts, venture capital investors, and an audience seeking to learn more about the PropTech space in Asia.

PropTech Pitch Battle

Date: July 11, 2019 (Thursday)

Time: 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Venue: Sidley Austin Office, 39/F., Two International Finance Centre (IFC2), 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong

This is the perfect event for:

  • Start-ups – pitch your idea in front of an audience and receive constructive feedback from experienced industry experts and venture capital investors
  • University students – pitch and test your idea in front of industry professionals
  • PropTech enthusiasts – learn and network with like-minded industry professionals
  • Angel investors / Corporate – connect with PropTech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts

You can find more information and get your ticket here: https://bit.ly/2XaKmIH

If you are a PropTech entrepreneur and would like to apply to enter the Pitch battle, you can submit your application by filling up the google form (https://bit.ly/2Jkt3ez) or email to [email protected] by July 3, 2019 (Wed).

Successful applicants will be notified by July 5, 2019 (Fri).

Looking forward to seeing all of you there!

Great turnout at the Future of Real Estate Investing on May 30 2019

It was our pleasure to be one of the co-hosts for the Future of Real Estate Investing event on May 30 2019.

Future of Real Estate Group Pic.jpg

Thanks for all the co-hosts (RealInflo, C Block Capital, Asia Proptech, ASTA, Mai Capital, FMI) for organizing the event together.

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We have shared our insights on Real Estate fractional ownership and why it needs to be popularized.

We hope everyone had a great time and looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Special thanks to Bryan Wong for taking photos for us. You can find more about him here: https://www.bryanwongdesign.com/