Swimming with the sharks

Swimming with the Sharks: Real Estate Proptechs Take the Jump 

July 2020

As real estate technology companies, known as “proptech” companies, continue to enter the marketplace and show their worth, CoreNet New York hosted a virtual event, “Swimming with the Sharks: Real Estate Proptechs Take the Jump” to showcase four proptech companies that are on the rise.

Moderated by Steve Weikal, Head of Industry Relations, MIT Center for Real Estate, the Shark Tank-inspired event featured the companies Density, Occupier, Saltmine and TracFlo. Similar to the television show, representatives for each company had eight minutes to present their product or service to the panel of four sharks, which included Meagan Riley from JLL Sparks, Gus Vazquez from CBS Viacom, Stan Gibson from Wells Fargo, and Kurt Ochalla from Biogen. After each presentation, the presenters took questions from the sharks and, at the end of the event, the audience was polled for their favorite company.

The first to present was Laura Patel from Density, a San Francisco-based firm that designs and manufactures utilization sensors. Based on artificial intelligence and the use of infra-red light, Density sensors track the movement of people in and out of spaces with great precision. With the data that is collected, companies can better assess how often their staff is coming into the office and how they use the space throughout the workday. Then, they can use this data to optimize the office layout. In the wake of the pandemic, Density’s sensors are being used to help companies track when it’s time to sanitize spaces based on usage, and to keep track of how many people are in a space versus what the social distancing protocol may be. One of the sharks asked about privacy, and Laura said the data collected by Density is anonymous at the source, so privacy should not be a concern.

Next to present was Andrew Flint from Occupier. Occupier is a software that enables commercial tenants and brokers to track lease transactions and manage their real estate portfolios more efficiently. As more and more people get involved with real estate decisions, Occupier works to streamline the lease administration and management process by centralizing information, documents and the contact information of those involved on a user-friendly digital platform. No longer do real estate teams need to rely on parsing together information from emails and spreadsheets; now there is one repository to hold the data. Andrew went on to say companies like Indeed, JLL, Five Guys and Bluestone Lane Coffee are using the software, and the next phase in their development is to integrate Occupier with other real estate apps.

Brigitte Beltran from Saltmine was the third to present. Saltmine’s cloud-based software transforms how corporate real estate departments think about and design their workspaces. Based on a company’s existing information, like hiring projections, Saltmine’s software can run test-fit scenarios to help corporate leaders make more informed decisions about the use of their space. These test-fits can then be presented to an architect to continue the design and construction process. In light of COVID-19, as companies work to develop return-to-office strategies, Saltmine offers tools which help determine and map out proper social distancing and traffic flow in the workplace.

The last to present was Jake Snyder from TracFlo. Jake started his presentation discussing change orders and how cumbersome they are to administer and manage between contractors and subcontractors. TracFlo is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product that subcontractors can use to better manage the change order request and approval process and keep track of documentation more efficiently. A great advantage of the software is that it acts as a smart tool. Tracflo uses existing data to make predictions on other issues that might arise and help to inform future decisions which need to be made. Currently, TracFlo is focused on the New York City market, but has plans to scale to other markets. Jake also mentioned they are actively working to integrate TracFlo with other construction management software like ProCore.

From one presentation to the next, it was easy to see how these four companies are working to find ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes and workflows that are found within the real estate and AEC industries.

After some last-minute questions from the sharks and the audience, Steve Weikal polled the audience for the presentation and product that appealed the most, and the winner for the most compelling company was…Density

Click here to view the event recording.