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Q and A session between Tiisetso Tlelima and Wayne Berger, Managing partner iShack Ventures and Chairman Instant Property

Tell us about Instant Property. How did it start and how does it work?
In 2013, our consulting firm, iShack Digital Consultancy, was in the fortunate position to be working with multiple real-estate businesses in both the residential and commercial sectors. We noticed common pain-points amongst our clients. They struggled with their data management, innovation and online marketing initiatives. Each of them experiencing both strategy and implementation failures with notable time and financial losses associated.

We in addition observed that the commercial, industrial and retail real-estate sector was neglected from a proptech perspective, compared to the residential sector.

Our plan was to access our advanced software engineering, online marketing and big data techniques to empower the industry through a web and mobile application platform with data seamlessly stored in the cloud. We thus set out to create Instant Property (www.instantproperty.co.za), a commercial, industrial and retail platform with a mandate to make life easier for the commercial real-estate industry role-players, namely, the landlord, the broker and the tenant.

We did this by consulting with each of the players mentioned above and we are proud that the Instant Property platform offers the following benefits to our patrons:

Tenant

Companies looking for new business space can enjoy centralised national vacancy information when they log on to www.instantproperty.co.za and access the largest national database of commercial space available to rent at their leisure and at no cost to their company.

The tenant can then, insert their business space requirements in our search engine and the vacancies that match their specifications will populate. Once they have found space that they are interested in viewing, the Instant property platform will match them with a specialist commercial broker in their area of preference and the broker will make contact with them to arrange site visits and guide them through the leasing process.

In-addition, we give our tenants access to a range of financial products and auxiliary industry related services from our third party network to ensure that their transition into their new business home is seamless.

Landlord

From a rental perspective, landlords want their buildings tenanted. Instant Property enables landlords to list their vacant spaces for free on the leasing platform and they immediately get access to our broker network and extensive marketing. Landlords only pay a brokerage commission on a successful conclusion of a signed lease.

From a sales perspective, landlords can list their real-estate assets for sale on Instant property for free, either on our auction or sales platform. They can furthermore add their buyer checklist to Instant Property and the platform will notify them when opportunities that match their interest are listed on the platform for sale.

Lastly, we offer landlords software-as-service packages that empowers landlords to have a digital and innovation presence at a fraction of the cost of managing their digital marketing and innovation function in-house.

Individual broker

The bane of a commercial broker is the extensive admin involved in their day-to-day working life. Instant Property alleviates their administration time by giving them expeditious access to our vacancy data through our brochure generation, e-mailer software. This solution removes the brokers data capturing and brochure creation tasks and reduces the time involved from hours or days to service a tenant to literally seconds or minutes.

On a sales, tender and auction perspective, Instant Property offers the possibility for inter-broker transparent engagements on deals, with both buyer and seller brokers earning sales commission on successful sales.

Brokerages

The Instant Property platform, offers commercial and residential brokerages including auction houses the opportunity to brand and customise the Instant Property auction, sales and tender platform for their own requirements at the fraction of the cost to develop and maintain such a platform themselves. Instant Property is ready to empower the rest of the industry players with their technology on request. In summary, we are democratising access to online auctions, sales and tender software for the South African industry.

What sets Instant Property apart from others?

Instant Property has a combination of three ingredients that sets us apart from the rest:
  1. Our innovation and early-adoption ethos: We are a highly technical company and have a culture that empowers our software engineering, data science, administration and marketing teams to seek out and adopt the latest, cutting-edge technologies on an ongoing basis, keeping us relevant and ahead of the curve.

  2. Our experience in servicing the commercial and industrial property industry: From a proptech perspective, we have been supplying industry early-adopters for over half a decade. Secondly, it is unusual for a technology team to have a registered Fidelity Fund Certificate (ref. No. 1159633) with the EAAB.

  3. Our venture capital/startup industry know-how and experience: If you want to be innovative, then you need to play the innovation game. The venture capital industry has been responsible for so many of the inspiring innovations that have improved our lives and with significant VC money being pumped into both the local and international proptech industry, it is most important to understand the dynamics to be successful.
How has property tech changed or shaped South Africa’s property market?

Although proptech has become a popular term most recently, the utilisation of technology in the property sector has been around since the first title deed was signed.

Over the last decade, technology in the South African property market has predominately been used to capture, organise and display data for the industry, with the knock-on effect, efficiencies in day-to-day operations and more effective decision-making.

However, this is only the beginning for proptech. With the Ffourth Industrial Revolution upon us and technology rapidly integrating into our lives, the property industry is all set for multiple disruptions. As Mark Andreessen put it, “Software is eating the world.” We are seeing more and more industries being affected by digitisation. As a general rule, innovation feels like it is happening slow and then suddenly.

How does the growth of property tech in SA compare to the one in the US?

Over the last 18 months there has been an incredible upsurge in global interest in proptech with the US leading the way. This has led to significant investment in the sector, which has stimulated industry-related mergers and acquisitions, national proptech associations, accelerators and incubators programmes, proptech-focussed VCs and proptech conferences. The leading investor in the sector is SoftBank, a Japanese multi-national holding conglomerate, which has invested over USD400m into OpenDoor and USD billions into WeWork, a shared workspace provider, which is currently expanding around the world and their first African work space is launching in Rosebank, Johannesburg, this year.

As expected, South Africa lags behind the US but the interest in the PropTech sector from real-estate industry players and external opportunist is at an all-time high and this trend will continue well beyond 2019. Local investment in proptech has also exploded with proptech providers such as Flow (flow.rent), House.me, Instant Property (www.instantproperty.co.za) receiving funding over the last two quarters.

From an adoption perspective, we have observed that the early adopters of quality proptech solutions have experienced significant, efficiency and cost savings victories for their respective real-estate businesses. Secondly, to highlight the excitement around the sector, the South African Proptech Association (www.saproptech.co.za) was formed in Q4 2019 and the first event on 10 April in Rosebank Johannesburg is already sold out.

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