Economy   /   July 17, 2020   /   By Paul Bubny

Q&A with CREtech’s Michael Beckerman: Proptech is Now a “Must Have”

A note from Connect Media CEO Daniel Ceniceros:

When we started Connect seven years ago, we realized that we couldn’t just be a news organization. Informing the industry was important, but showing the experience and intelligence behind the deal was just as important. Taking commercial real estate digital took on a whole new meaning. As the proptech world was growing, people realized that new technologies were exciting, but they also had to look at their own homes first, which was a basic website, social media and messaging; most didn’t even have CRMs. So, when I say Connect has taken dozens of companies digital, it means we have helped them with all of these things. We have created websites for some of the largest property owners over the past seven years, and built them communication and content platforms.  

At the same time, Michael Beckerman at CREtech is now evolving his business to CREtech, and proptech consulting. As Connect had to transition from its traditional commercial real estate live events to webinars, Michael is also taking his events virtual and has also started a consulting practice. I have personally known Michael for over 20 years, as he started within PR and we have worked together growing and changing and serving this industry that we both love. I have moved into the content, PR and digital agency space with Connect CREative and he is now moving into consulting.  As he has closed The News Funnel down, and is focused on his new consulting endeavor, I sat down with Michael this week to talk about it.

Q: You’ve thought about a tech consulting platform for some time, but have chosen to roll it out now. What’s significant about the timing, other than that the industry is in a situation (i.e. the pandemic) where tech adoption is pretty much mandated?

A: Never before in my eight years in this sector have I seen such attention and adoption for real estate technology as I am seeing now. During this pandemic, and clearly post pandemic, the acceleration of tech adoption is one of the most significant trends we are witnessing. What was once “nice to have” is now “must have” and many, many tech companies are actually experiencing record adoption and business growth.

While no one could have anticipated the sudden disruption to the workplace that the pandemic caused, the real estate sector was one of the least prepared as a result of its historic lack of tech adoption. But now it’s truly one of the sectors that is embracing tech more than any other industry and, in doing so, future-proofing itself against future disruptions.

Q: What’s the most important objective you intend to achieve with this platform?

A: Our goal at CREtech has never wavered since we started down this path, which is to help the real estate industry embrace, invest and adopt technology. Over the past few years, we built the largest community of professionals devoted to real estate tech and we have seen our conference attendance explode. And we also witnessed investment and the number of new startups being formed reach all-time historic numbers. But, adoption was still very slow and growth for the tech providers extremely challenging. And so, our new consulting practice is an evolution of this core objective and was built solely with the objective of accelerating adoption on behalf of real estate developers, construction companies, asset managers, investors and brokerages, as well as startups, on a global scale.

Q: The experts you’ve assembled come from a variety of disciplines. Is this panel intended primarily to provide a unified approach to strategy regardless of whether the end user is a real estate investor or a tech startup, provide specialized advice from individual experts, or some of both?

A: We cast a wide net within our community to vet the leading professionals in the industry who had subject matter expertise in the areas we were confident the market needed help with. Our team of consultants therefore are proven experts that can advise clients on everything from sustainability to cyber security, from construction tech to data strategies, from developing actual tech solutions to blitz marketing tactics, our consultants are the leading experts in each discipline.

Q: With this venture, you’ve moved out of strictly CRE news media. Does this indicate a future direction for how industry members will get and share information?

A: Our focus at CREtech was never editorial content other than a monthly blog by our team, but rather curating the best content from sources like Connect Media and the other leading real estate, tech and business media and distributing that to our global audience. Our team works really hard to understand what our audience finds of value and we distribute 10 hand-curated stories per day. Our content is focused on the conferences both virtual and physical. Going forward, I am extremely excited about our Omni channel approach to the conference business as I do see online video content as a huge opportunity for our company. As challenging as the pandemic has been for the meeting and event business, I have never been more optimistic and excited about our company’s future as well as the future of our real estate tech industry at large!

Q: Proptech technology has been hammered through the pandemic and everyone is watching their expenses. How do you pick a technology to invest in and know that is going to be around for the long run?

A: In fact, there are many technology companies that are experiencing record growth during the pandemic. And yes, there are many that are also seeing growth slow. It all depends on whether your product is something that can deliver an immediate solution in the remote work environment as well as an ROI to your customer base. If you have a solution that is frictionless, involves little if any manual intervention, helps a company re-open, market, communicate or transact in this environment, you will be in greater demand than ever. Conversely, if your product is a “nice to have,” the market probably isn’t going to invest the time and money right now. I am confident however that real estate technology will emerge from the coronavirus crises stronger than ever.

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