As a tech entrepreneur and advisor to global start-ups and real estate firms, Mike DelPrete knows a thing or two about innovation.
By age 30 DelPrete, who is a keynote speaker at the 2017 PPW Bangkok conference, had boot-strapped and sold his own start-up tech firm Agora Games - the company worked on major game franchises such as Guitar Hero and Call of Duty.
After four years and reaching over 100 million gamers, DelPrete sold the business and moved to New Zealand, taking up a position as a corporate strategist at New Zealand’s largest marketplace and classifieds website TradeMe. He says it was this position that sparked his passion for, and ongoing relationship with, real estate tech.
"I’m interested in online real estate because of the immense opportunity - both to improve the home buying and selling process for consumers, and the large revenue pool at stake, DelPrete says.
"There is a lot of untapped potential and there are many possible paths forward; it’s a very intellectually stimulating challenge!”
As an advisor to some of the world’s leading global property portals, DelPrete has an inherent knowledge of the key players and a broad overview of the direction in which the industry is moving.
One of the most pressing questions he finds himself answering is: where is the industry headed?
"Every company I work with, from startup to large corporate, wants to know what the future of real estate is going to look like, what new models are finding success, and how they can be successful in this new future,” he divulges.
"I’m one of the very few people I know with a broad international perspective on the market, so I can tell them what innovation looks like in different markets around the world, and find common learnings and insights that can be applied to their businesses.”
But when it comes to innovation within the property portal sector, there’s nothing that’s blown DelPrete away… yet.
"There are very few truly innovative companies in the space - those trying to radically improve and revolutionise the process,” DelPrete admits.
"Most companies are focused on incremental improvements, but I expect this to slowly change in the future,” he says.
Industry leaders in prop tech
In his experience, DelPrete sees the U.K. an an emerging market that is paving the way forward for the real estate prop tech scene. He says portals coming from this market have a business model that often leads to success.
"The U.K. is the home of the fixed-fee agency (aka hybrid agency aka online agency), in the form of Purplebricks, Emoov, and several others. They’re leading the way with a proposition that offers consumers better value and better service, underpinned with good technology,” he says.
While this market fosters development in the wider prop tech scene, it’ the U.S. that is harbouring the disruptive market.
"Silicon Valley is the home of the disruptive start-up, namely in the form of Opendoor,” DelPrete says.
The company launched in 2014 and is pioneering online offers, 24-7 open houses and home purchase guarantees. It claims users can find a home within close vicinity, inspect the home at anytime and without the hassle of listings and showings.
"Opendoor are willing to take big risks and rewrite the entire home selling process, driving the entire market forward whether they like it or not,” he says.