At the last Product Hunt Toronto event of the year, a sold-out crowd at Pivotal Labs gathered to once again look at how innovative products in the city are changing lives and industries. Product Hunt Toronto organizer Daryna Kulya stressed that, while Product Hunt Toronto tends to have a tech focus, the Product Hunt movement is for everyone. “It’s not only tech, Kulya said. “It’s also books, games, podcasts and more. so Product Hunt is this amazing online platform that connects makers with early adopters.”
Donnelly said that real estate has been slow to adopt innovation.
In an event looking at the intersection of new products and the real estate industry, keynote speaker Brandon Donnelly, a developer at CAPREIT, one of Canada’s largest residential apartment companies, said that real estate has been slow to adopt innovation.
“Right now, a lot of this stuff is manual,” Donnelly said, adding that the outdated processes used in real estate mean that it isn’t the most transparent industry. The creator of Architect This City and original founder of website Dirt, which allowed people to share their honest experiences about the condo developments they live in, Donnelly argued that tech has the potential to change that.
“There’s a number of trends we’re going to see in real estate,” he said. “I think we’re going to see dramatic reduction in transaction costs and friction, P2P marketplaces and block chains are going to come into play. There will be improved transparency and more access to information. We’re going to start leveraging the crowd a lot more through crowdsourcing.”
The three pitching startups — which included Piinpoint, Evercondo, and MappedIn — demonstrated exactly how data and frictionless processes could make real estate more efficient and, at the same time, stressed the importance of listening to your markets to make a great product.
Piinpoint, a startup that gives users access to location analytics, demonstrated how easy access to data could be a powerful selling tool for real estate agents to truly understand the properties they’re selling. Piinpoint co-founder Jim Robeson said that products like Piinpoint, which was part of the Y Combinator winter 2014 cohort, are made purposefully and with users always in mind. “It’s not a matter of whether a button needs to be here or not,” Robeson said. “It’s if they say that this is important for us right now, and as an innovator, you’ve got to do it differently than how it’s always been done. It may start with an ‘MVP’ feature, but then you build off that.”
Adrian Teh, CTO of condo communication and management platform Evercondo, echoed Robeson’s point that knowing when to listen to your customers is key to creating useful products. He gave an example of a condo company in Kitchener that mostly had baby boomers living in the building — a demographic that seemed to be a big concern to the real estate agents in the room, who often asked whether these technologies would alienate less technologically-adept baby boomers. As condo developers complained that they didn’t need a feature to mass email everyone, Teh instead made a feature where developers could call tenants with service announcements automatically. “Always involve them in every part of the business, because that’s how you’ll be able to build the company.”
Before finishing off with a panel, Kulya introduced a new part of the event called #ProductBrag, which allowed companies like Loftshare, Houseit, and Map Your Property to pitch for 20 seconds while people tweeted their favourites.
The crowd of new Product Hunters, real estate agents, and seasoned tech enthusiasts showed how great products can create a community. “We’re really starting to democratize real estate and engage in the community,” said Donnelly. “The market size for real estate is just such a big opportunity.”
Photos courtesy Brian Simon, Tarsipix Studios