Kylie Davis: 00:02 Welcome to the Proptech Podcast. It's Kylie Davis here and I'm delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collide. I passionately believe we need to create and grow a sense of community between the innovators and the real estate agents, and sharing our stories is a great way to do that.
Kylie Davis: 00:20 So the aim of each episode of the Proptech Podcast is to introduce you, our listeners, to an innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what's possible, and to explore the issues and challenges raised by the technology and how we, together can create some amazing property experiences.
Kylie Davis: 00:37 My guest in this episode is Shelli Trung, the head of the REACH programme in Australia and the Asia-Pacific. REACH have just recently announced their first cohort of proptechs from Australia and New Zealand, and Shelli tells us about the programme and how the innovators are being supported by REACH are transforming real estate into the future.
Kylie Davis: 01:01 So, Shelli Trung, welcome to the show.
Shelli Trung: 01:04 Fantastic to be here. Thanks so much.
Kylie Davis: 01:06 So, Shelli, I'm really excited about our conversation today. But to kick off what we always ask our guests to do is to give us your elevator pitch. I think given how important an elevator pitch is in pitching for REACH, I'd love to hear yours.
Shelli Trung: 01:23 Sure. So Shelli Trung, I'm the managing partner for REACH Australia. REACH Australia is a organisation, an accelerator programme that is owned and operated by Second Century Ventures. Second Century Ventures is the venture arm for the National Association of Realtors.
Kylie Davis: 01:42 Cool. And so, what's the problem that Second Century Ventures and REACH solves?
Shelli Trung: 01:49 So our main problem is helping really a lot of proptech companies or frankly, technology companies who want to navigate and understand the real estate industry. The real estate industry is really one of the industries that need a little bit of help with innovation and disruption.
Shelli Trung: 02:07 A lot of great people work in the industry, but it has been a little bit slower to adopt change. I think we all know that. That's why we're all here. What Second Century and REACH does is helps a lot of the industry to better understand the innovation that's available to them.
Shelli Trung: 02:25 But also, with the technology companies out in the ecosystem, they don't seem to understand how the real estate industry works. So we also provide that big bridge for technology companies who may be great in their own areas but don't really understand how real estate transactions work, and how to really sell, navigate, and do partnerships with the real estate industry.
Kylie Davis: 02:53 So tell us a little bit about the history of REACH, like when did it start and what does it do specifically?
Shelli Trung: 03:02 The REACH programme started off about in 2013. The programme itself has been running for about seven years with eight cohorts, roughly 60 companies in the portfolio. The idea is very much, again, to help bridge that gap with the real estate industry and technology. We invest in companies that come through the programme.
Shelli Trung: 03:26 It's a nine-month scale-up programme. It works slightly differently to other accelerator programmes out there. It is a top-performing programme. It's ranked amongst the tech stars, the Y Combinators, the 500 Startups, but it's a little different in that it's exclusively for the real estate industry. We tend to focus more on companies that are a little past the MVP stage, really allude in their pre-Series A sort of ecosystem.Shelli Trung: 03:57 The idea is that we provide them industry education and access to the real estate industry. So slightly different from your stock standard incubator and accelerator because we're well past really the stage of MVPS, we're really about industry education and industry access.
Kylie Davis: 04:15 Right. So it's scaling up understanding of what the industry needs within those businesses, and also in scaling up and understanding in the industry of what that business could do to help a real estate agent perform better.
Shelli Trung: 04:31 Real agents and that includes residential and commercial, but we're really encompassing that as the real estate industry as a whole. So for example ... and we look at technology outside of the real estate industry that can enhance, and what I call enhance and enable the real estate industry. So for example, DocuSign.
Shelli Trung: 04:31 Real agents and that includes residential and commercial, but we're really encompassing that as the real estate industry as a whole. So for example ... and we look at technology outside of the real estate industry that can enhance, and what I call enhance and enable the real estate industry. So for example, DocuSign.
Kylie Davis: 05:08 No.
Shelli Trung: 05:08 You're thinking that far back, like everyone thinks, "Oh yes, it's proptech," but 10 years ago it's legal tech, right?
Kylie Davis: 05:17 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 05:18 Digital signatures weren't even legal, like we were faxing our signatures over. So one of the great things that Second Century does is provide that insight and access, and for Second Century to sort of early on see an opportunity with DocuSign. Yes, it's a piece of legal tech, but this can really transform the real estate industry. All of us now obviously use it. Even for me, as a VC, I use it all the time to sign contracts, you know?
Kylie Davis: 05:46 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 05:46 It's second nature. And so, we look at technology, it can be marketing technology, it could be logistics companies, mobility. Again, we look at that piece of technology and think, "Well, how can it actually help the real estate industry practitioner?" But the real estate industry more broadly as well. Again, it includes commercial, residential across the industry.
Kylie Davis: 06:10 So let's just get really clear. So Second Century Ventures is a VC company, but it's actually got at its heart and its core, the real estate industry because it's the investment arm of the National Association of Realtors, isn't it, US?
Shelli Trung: 06:25 Correct. Yes.
Kylie Davis: 06:26 So everything you do, you're seeing through a property lens or a real estate lens?
Shelli Trung: 06:31 We're looking at as an industry lens, if you like. We're looking at it, "Well, does this add value to the real estate industry? Does it add value to the real estate practitioner? Does it improve the transaction?" End of the day, you and I who are purchasing real estate, whether to live, whether to work in, whether to go shopping in, whether that's going from one place to another. I mean, we all live and work in buildings, right?
Kylie Davis: 06:58 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 06:58 Here's the transitions in between. So we look at it as a, how can this make that life a little bit easier? My particular focus is on REACH Australia and Southeast Asia. I lived many years in the States, as well as London. One of the reason I came back to our region is because we just have a massive population boom.
Shelli Trung: 07:23 Australia has had barely a recession and Southeast Asia is really coming into its own. In terms of price per square feet, okay, we can't really compete with the US or particularly Southeast Asia. But according to the UN, we are expecting a billion people to migrate from the rural areas to the urban areas in the next 10 years.
Kylie Davis: 07:47 Right. Right.
Shelli Trung: 07:49 It's been classed as the biggest mass migration of people ever. That's a lot of people we need to move. So our role in the industry is that, how can we make that transition a little bit easier for that population that needs to move? If you're talking about the volume of real estate transactions, the volume is certainly going to be in this region, but maybe the price per square feet isn't quite there. So the kind of technology we're looking at is going to be slightly different.
Kylie Davis: 08:20 Right. So look, tell me more about why REACH has branched out into Australia. Why Australia is kind of your centre for the Asia-Pac region?
Shelli Trung: 08:30 Yeah, that's a really good question because I think one of the key things is in our last two cohorts for REACH in the US we're calling that really REACH core now, we actually invested in three great Australian companies. I'm Australian, I spent-
Kylie Davis: 08:49 Very guilty.
Shelli Trung: 08:49 Yes. I'm a little biassed I think on this, but I think we're really, really smart. I think we punch above our weight. If you look at population wise, okay, we're one 10th the size of the US, but in terms of innovation and I think the reputation of Australians is not quite correct. We are very, very hard-working and we're very talented.
Shelli Trung: 09:12 For example, we are known for building the most energy efficient buildings for eight years running according to ... I can never remember the name of the ranking, but I think it's called RES. And so, again, the rest of the world doesn't really know this.
Shelli Trung: 09:30 So in combination with the fact that we have great innovation, we had Aconex again exit for $1 billion to Oracle, and so we've made some great investments into REACH companies that are Australian. RateMyAgent was the most recent cohort in the REACH US programme, and ActivePipe, who've just recently closed a $6 million SAFE note round of ... sorry, convertible note round. Obviously, with the BoxBrownie guys as well. So that's really great companies. I've been told BoxBrownies were the hardest working companies in the US cohort.
Kylie Davis: 10:07 They sure are.
Shelli Trung: 10:09 Well, I've been told that, and so, I'm very proud of that. Frankly, the companies we've accepted into our first REACH batch, the six companies we've gotten. We've got three companies that are Australian and two Singapore companies, and one New Zealand company. My goodness, the New Zealand companies are definitely giving some Australian companies a bit of a run for their money because they know how much they need help to go global.
Shelli Trung: 10:36 And so, I think it's just timing. It's great timing. The real estate industry are really coming on board. They've been very enthusiastic about a startup programme for them. And so, and as a result, we've got a lot of partners jumping on board, and it's just the right timing.
Shelli Trung: 10:54 I know I came back from overseas for three years and was sort of waiting for a great ... I know there's a couple of programmes out there but they've sort of discontinued. The way the REACH programme works is it's very much a Switzerland kind of programme they call it, because we work with the entire real estate industry because they're all our members.
Shelli Trung: 11:13 So the kind of programme it runs is very much very founder friendly as well because we want to get the companies selling to the entire industry and not to one or two major vendors only.
Kylie Davis: 12:24 Before you mentioned that to get into REACH you needed to be a little bit more established. So it's not incubator stage, you've sort of got a few runs on the board. What is your criteria for being ... Can you expand on your criteria for getting accepted into the programme? It's the golden ticket question, isn't it really?
Shelli Trung: 12:44 [inaudible 00:12:44]. Every single VC says this, and I'm going to be really annoying and say, look, we look for a magical thing called traction. Traction in the market, and look, that can be a combination of revenue. But generally speaking, we really have to like founders.
Shelli Trung: 13:03 We sort of call the REACH programme and the REACH family, a family. It is for us. There's well over 80 companies in the Second Century Ventures portfolio, and there's partnerships that just even in my six companies, I've already gotten in December, they're talking about JVs already.
Shelli Trung: 13:24 We spend so much time curating the companies that come through, and generally speaking, one, we really feel like we have to add value. Is there a really going, one, add value to the real estate industry? First tick. Can we actually add value to them? Because again, if they're too early are they ... The last thing we want to do is actually kill a startup.
Shelli Trung: 13:45 If they're too early and they don't have their systems and processes in place if they're exploring. For example, we certainly had companies that applied that were exploring the Australian and Southeast Asia market. Exploring isn't really the stage I want companies to be venturing out here and spending money out here.
Shelli Trung: 14:05 Ideally, I want them to sort of come back to me with something along the lines of, "Well, we've already looked at the market. We definitely want to be in this region. We've already looked at hiring a country lead. We are ready to sell in that market," you know?
Kylie Davis: 14:17 Yeah. Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 14:17 And that's what the programme is about. It's a sales and marketing programme. It's an event-based programme. And so, your criteria around traction is around, "Well, can you actually sell? Can you tell me what your sales process is? Can you tell me with some sort of level of confidence how your onboarding process works?"
Shelli Trung: 14:36 Just so, when I throw 10 big commercial real estate groups at you, can you convert them? Can you convert them? Do you know how to onboard their team? We don't want to kill a company when all 10 commercial real estate groups are ready to go, and they're not ready.
Shelli Trung: 14:55 Because obviously I need to think about the other five companies coming on board as well. And so, that's what we spend a lot of time doing, making sure that we can add value to the companies, and they're ready to really go. They have a sales and marketing team. Ideally, a couple of customers is helpful, but probably more than three or five customers, you know?
Kylie Davis: 15:16 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 15:16 Some of our earliest companies already have 70,000 users on their platform, like that's not that early, you know?
Kylie Davis: 15:23 No, no.
Shelli Trung: 15:25 But they worked out some kinks, right? They worked out some kinks, but there's certainly still obviously more things I need to work out. But there's a good amount of, "I know what we don't know," you know?
Kylie Davis: 15:35 Yeah. Yeah, yeah. They're across all of that. So tell me a little bit about from the Australian and the APAC programme, what do I get if I'm joining the REACH programme here? Is it the step you do before you join the American one, or is it stand up on its own against the US one? How does that work?
Shelli Trung: 15:57 That's a really, really good question. Well, the way that REACH Global works, not just the Australian programme, our whole landscape is we are going to be part of the REACH Global. I'm very proud that REACH Australia and REACH Southeast Asia is really the first programme out of the US, but it is the first programme.
Shelli Trung: 16:17 So I'm going to really ask this from REACH Global, the idea is that very much that anyone coming into a REACH programme, and we will be launching other regions this year, the idea is that anyone applying, you should always apply to the programme where you want to focus your expansion. So for example, if you're looking at 80% of the Australian market, and you really want to go to the US, well you should just why do the US programme because you're really going to focus on that region.
Shelli Trung: 16:47 But however, if you're already a US company, you've got 80% of that market already, that you really want to expand to Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia. The idea is that anyone in the world can apply to any programme. The US programme has obviously again been accepting a lot of Australian companies already, but I believe there's also a German company, a Germany company, one of their cohorts.
Shelli Trung: 17:10 So again, anyone in the world can apply. It's about where do you want to expand? Obviously, I have Australian companies who want to tackle the Australia Southeast Asian market, but also, if they're ready, if they prove to me that they're ready, they can also access the US programme and some of their events. But the idea is that you applied to the programme where you want to focus your growth with access to the other programmes. Look, the access might not be, "Hey, we've graduated nine months, we've gone through the Australia programme now, we are now ready to go to the US," you know?
Kylie Davis: 17:42 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 17:47 It might be two years later. I mean, are we right now ready to go to the UK? Are we now ready to go to South America? Are we now ready to go to Canada? These are sort of other programmes in regions we are looking at. And so, the idea is that you can really plug into any programme anywhere in the world in a few years' time.
Shelli Trung: 18:01 That's the real vision for REACH Global. And so, that companies don't have to have this cultural barrier. They're going to have someone like me on the ground really facilitating that process. Frankly, for some companies, even in my current cohort of the six, there are some companies are like, "We're not going to go to the US, it just doesn't make any sense for us because there's already five competitors, but we want to go to the UK, or we want to go to Canada."
Shelli Trung: 18:26 And so, that's where the beauty of REACH globally is, we are a family and you should not need to ... Once the Canadian cohort launch and UK, those companies can actually access my programme as well. So again, it's very much a family, you don't need to reapply. You're already in the programme. You can access resources, but you should always apply to the programme where you currently in the next nine months to 12 months, that's where we want to focus the expansion.
Kylie Davis: 18:54 Cool. And so, what do you get if you're in the programme? You said it's about sales and marketing support, whatever. What's the value?
Shelli Trung: 19:02 So the way the REACH programme works is it is different from an incubator and an early stage accelerator programme. It is a scout programme. That that means is, we don't have a space, we don't have a coworking space that we work out of. We are not a six-month programme where we are together and building MVPs, and you're trying to get your first few customers. We're way beyond that really.
Shelli Trung: 19:25 And so, we run a nine-month programme. It's very much event based, and sales and marketing based. So it's very front-facing. Again, if you don't have a sales and marketing team and you don't really have sort of that messaging figured out, you're just a bit too early.
Shelli Trung: 19:40 And so, the way the programme works is very much over nine months. We get together for about a week every nine months and it's usually alongside a real estate industry event. So typically, we'll run, for example, REIQ is one of our events in March. We've got a great relationship with REIQ. We'll be at that event with them. We're going to help them with some of the topics around proptech, some of our companies and understanding how technology is evolving with their industry and their members.
Shelli Trung: 20:14 But, for us, also on the companies really get exposure to the membership, access to new customers, getting feedback. Feedback is incredibly important amongst the real estate industry. So the companies really come in. They get access to a curated list of mentors that sit down and do one on one speed dating style mentorships. So access to mentors, access to events.
Shelli Trung: 20:40 Sometimes they are only truly exclusive events that you cannot get access to otherwise because we've got established relationships with those organisations. REIQ is just one example. We've got sort nine months of programming that we do. So typically every month we've got a partner, event partner we work with, and then we tack on facilitator sessions.
Shelli Trung: 20:59 So we're doing events in ULI and Manila, and some of that content will be around, how does real estate working as ASEAN? How does it work in the Philippines? How does it work in Singapore? How does IPOs work in Singapore? How does real estate transactions work on a residential level, on a commercial real estate level, on a hospitality level as well? So that's what we would ... it's a combination of content, mentoring and events, right? It's pitching visibility, sales and marketing.
Kylie Davis: 21:29 Mm-hmm (affirmative). So tell us about the first cohort for Asia-Pac for the 2020 cohort?
Shelli Trung: 21:36 Sure. So we've accepted six companies. I'm really excited about all these companies. It's funny, you start off on this journey and you're never quite sure. I've run accelerator programmes before, I've managed a fund before, and you're never quite sure what you're going to get. And particularly with the fact that there are really a lack of scale-up programmes on a global basis, we were really looking to capture companies that were ready to go to that next level and go international.
Shelli Trung: 22:08 And so, as a result, it was a little bit ... we weren't sure what kind of applications we'd get. First of all, we got well over a hundred applications. One out of four of those were already reportedly turning over a million in revenue.
Kylie Davis: 22:22 Wow.
Shelli Trung: 22:23 That's an amazing result. I know personally, I'm quite proud of fact that well over 30% of those were women-led, so women founders-
Kylie Davis: 22:31 Good on the girls.
Shelli Trung: 22:32 Yeah, yeah. No, I'm very happy about that. And so, some of these things are really around the cohort. I think, I'm going through some of these statistics because I want sort of to expand on the kind of companies we eventually ended up selecting, where it was really tough.
Shelli Trung: 22:49 When you look at those numbers you're like, "Wow," this is the kind of calibre that we had coming in. That was really with minimal marketing. It was the first year, we had sort of six months of really coming into the programme itself, and obviously, REACH has been on a global basis, well-known. But it's relatively new to this region still.
Shelli Trung: 23:11 And so, the six companies we selected, two of them were from Singapore. One of them was a New Zealand company and three of them were Australian companies. So I'm really happy that that's the mix we got. That wasn't really what I was aiming for, but I'm really glad it's a mix over different regions.
Shelli Trung: 23:27 So six companies. We got UbiPark is a great company we got in there. They're focused on mobility solutions for the car park space. So their technology is also useful with street parking, and I believe they've already got 70,000 downloads of their app. So mobility solutions. Again, a lot of the partners they're working with what are actually Smart Cities organisations, by commercial real estate groups, airports as well. So that's UbiPark.
Shelli Trung: 24:00 We've also got PAM. PAM is the solution for wayfinding, and quite a few of their clients are already very much focused on, for example, that they're putting in their technology for LA stadium, one of the LA stadiums, massive scale. But they also work with one of the city universities. So again, wayfinding solutions working with large commercial real estate groups, but potentially, also public transportation. We're really talking about moving people from A to B.
Shelli Trung: 24:32 Uxtrata focus on strata management. They're sort of what I call zero, but for strata management. So it's a combination of data, AI, automating the strata management process for strata managers. A really fantastic solution. They automate something like, well over 70% of the current processes. Usually strata managers can manage about 200 buildings, 200 units, they can 10 X that and manage 2,000 units by using this software, which is incredible, an amazing New Zealand team. So that's Uxtrata.
Shelli Trung: 25:12 We also obviously have Sorted. The Sorted guys, great founders, already exit a company called ... They're really focused on the approach of the onboarding process for tenants for when they sign a lease, there's a form automating a lot of that process, but also really moving, you're moving. I think everybody hates moving.
Kylie Davis: 25:37 Everybody.
Shelli Trung: 25:39 Putting in the internet, putting in the electricity, all of that, paying your rent on time. So it's really about that smooth transition to living, the faster we go from moving to living. I think that's what they really do, and help manage tenant services and really help agents onboard a lot of people faster, and take care of that experience.
Shelli Trung: 26:04 We've also got igloohome. igloohome is a piece of hardware. So again, you're sort of getting a mix of people now. igloohome focuses on ... it's an IOT lock, it's a smart lock. The idea is again, to me it's very much a logistics company. We have organisations, particularly in Australia where you have assets that are in the middle of nowhere, right?
Kylie Davis: 26:28 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Shelli Trung: 26:30 I've heard stories of people driving for two hours just to collect keys and really the job is one hour, and they spent four hours driving to the location. So what they do is locks and automated access. The kind of technology involved in that is very much on a very secure access. But for me also, I locked myself out last week and that would've been great if I had an igloohome lock. I'm still trying to get my body corporate to get on board with that.
Shelli Trung: 27:02 So the last one is Really. So Really is a Singapore based company. They've already got well over 800 transactions through their platform, and they work with the commercial real estate groups, like Savills, the CBRE. What they do is, for example, once you've signed a commercial real estate tenant in. So for example, Google might be moving into a brand new office space, into a new building. There's a process of onboarding, similar to some ways what Sorted does, you know?
Kylie Davis: 27:35 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 27:36 There's an onboarding process, you need to really put in cleaners, contractors, electricity. All these contractor services. They do that on a larger scale, but for commercial real estate. So very, very similar process.
Shelli Trung: 27:49 We've got a great founder taking care of that as well. He's got a tonne of experience. He knows exactly how painful that process is. They've done, again, a tonne of transactions in that area, a very, very experienced team. And so, we've just got a great mix of companies at all different timelines of the transaction. Again, a lot of co-collaboration already within the companies. Hopefully, that's quite apparent when I've explained what they do.
Kylie Davis: 28:20 Yeah, yeah, sure. And so, how do you see them helping real estate agents to do their job better? By obviously making things less painful and faster?
Shelli Trung: 28:32 Yeah. So Sorted and Really, both focus on onboarding tenants, whether that's commercial, residential. UbiPark obviously is a parking solution. It's a parking solution, but I mean, what speaks really close to me is really reducing pollution. I mean, you and I ... I'm looking outside today and I'm seeing, my goodness, ESG is such an important topic in terms of going forward.
Shelli Trung: 29:01 If we can minimise the amount of time a car spends on the road and frankly productivity for people getting in and out, I think that's a great value add. And so, that again is getting better value from that space, but potentially also like if you've got parking space that's free for two hours, right now we're not really managing that, you know?
Kylie Davis: 29:24 No.
Shelli Trung: 29:24 They're working with hospitals that are literally ... they're shift workers, right? You've really got three shifts, not two shifts, right?
Kylie Davis: 29:32 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Shelli Trung: 29:32 And so, some of this is well, automating a lot of that, making better use of that space so that we don't have to ... we're building a space through that use, but also minimising the amount of time people are parking and looking for parking.
Shelli Trung: 29:45 I'm the world's worst parker, and so, looking for parking is one of those things that I really don't enjoy doing. And so, for us it's this productivity but it's also pollution as well. So that's strata management and again another piece of automated technology where you could really increase the volume of things you can take better care of. That's a very direct value add as well.
Shelli Trung: 30:09 And wayfinding, and my goodness, the amount of times I get lost, wayfinding is crucial. I think more and more of consumers these days expect to have information quickly. And that's where I see PAM also playing a role in terms of experience. But getting lost and frustrated, I think that brings to the experience of going to that place. You have that same experience, you tend to not want to go back there.
Kylie Davis: 30:37 No. True.
Shelli Trung: 30:38 I think again, adding value to that particular venue. But obviously, once you implement wayfinding, there's other channels you can do. Wayfinding, marketing technologies. Again, customising a lot of that experience I think again, can make that asset be a lot more valuable.
Kylie Davis: 30:56 So how do you want Australian or New Zealand, or Kiwi real estate agents to be engaging with the REACH guys at this stage? Like what should they do?
Shelli Trung: 31:10 This is a great segue. We actually have right now where we're actually creating what we call, an insight panel. An insight panel is really for anyone in the real estate industry that wants to give these products a go. We've already vetted them. We think they're fantastic. We think that they're fantastic founders, great companies, great technology.
Shelli Trung: 31:37 We filtered through the list. We look at ... I mean, not just answers on the applications, I mean, Second Century Ventures is a 15 person team that looks at deals every day, and we really, truly look at thousands. So we've actually tested them. We think they're the right products and the great products to add to the industry.
Shelli Trung: 31:55 But anyone out there, real estate agents, real estate, property managers, facility managers, if they're looking for technology and struck for time, like everybody is, and they just don't know which one is the best to go with, I would really encourage people to sign up for the insight panel. I'll have to share that link with you.
Kylie Davis: 32:16 Yeah, that'd be great.
Shelli Trung: 32:17 Yeah. Sign up for the insight panel. We've already got well over 10,000 people signed up for that, and they can really be the first to say, "Hey we want to ..." Frankly, they're going to be some great deals for our early customers who want to sort of have a look. It's already pre-vetted. It saves them time. They can give it a go, get a great deal potentially out of it as well. Because again, it's exclusive to our network, and frankly give us feedback.
Shelli Trung: 32:43 A lot of these founders are looking for feedback. How can we improve the product? How can we improve the onboarding process? They come into our programme wanting to hear from the industry because there's always ways to improve what they're communicating and what they're selling, and maybe features that they didn't even think about. They're technology founders but they not in the trenches every day in the industry.
Kylie Davis: 34:19 And so, what do you see having worked with the US and also now Australia, and even the UK, where do you see the differences between the innovation in APAC and overseas? How is Australia or New Zealand different? What are we coming up with that's different?
Shelli Trung: 34:38 I love this question because I do like to compare the regional differences.
Kylie Davis: 34:42 Yeah, yeah. We're all very judgmental. We all want to know.
Shelli Trung: 34:47 So I used to live in London. I lived in the US for five years. One of the key things that is essentially quite different is that we, Australia, our estate assets are becoming more and more like Asia. What I mean by that is it's becoming more mixed-use. It's becoming more walkable cities.
Shelli Trung: 35:12 You see New York and perhaps San Francisco, and Miami sort of start adopting these walkable cities. But like Melbourne is really ... like Melbourne city, City of Melbourne, the council's actually blocking off a lot of the city streets so that they can increase the pathways, the walkways for people to be more walkable. And so, a lot of cities are becoming more walkable, like a lot of Asia cities.
Kylie Davis: 35:39 And the buildings are becoming almost vertical villages in lots of ways, aren't they?
Shelli Trung: 35:44 Absolutely.
Kylie Davis: 35:44 Yeah, yeah.
Shelli Trung: 35:46 In Australia, you've very much got like the retail sector on the first two or three levels maybe, and then you've got residential on the top. Well, even before that you might have a couple of office spaces. I actually see coworking spaces really come into buildings now, and have localised coworking spaces instead of like full office buildings.
Shelli Trung: 36:05 So we are sort of getting like retail within walking distance now, and then residential sort of integrated a lot better. And so, as a result, commercial real estate and residential real estate really blends a lot more seamlessly now, which is why companies like UbiPark do really, really well, you know?
Kylie Davis: 36:24 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 36:25 UbiPark will work well in the car space that has residential or commercial, it doesn't really matter. And so, for us, for me, the regional differences around, well we're going to have more commercial real estate in this region, and that's reflected in the batch of companies I've accepted in my first year. A lot more commercial, a lot of kind of technology that works in commercial and residential as well. Really, three or four of those companies can work across the board. And so, that's where I see a lot of value add.
Shelli Trung: 36:56 I'm also seeing a lot of hardware integrating really well with online and offline coming together. So igloohome is a really great example of that where you're actually producing the hardware in Shenzhen. And again, Asia, we're a lot closer to our Asian neighbours. It's very normal for us to have our products manufactured in Asia somewhere, but have our customer service in the Philippines, you know?Kylie Davis: 37:25 Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 37:26 And we're very used to that, and that's a combination of wages but also language barriers as well, and how close our neighbours can work very easily together. And so, I see a lot of hardware technology working really, really well with software. I got so many pictures from so many hardware companies that weren't building hardware but had the software, or were building the hardware but had the software lined up.
Shelli Trung: 37:53 I think the great thing, I'm seeing a lot of innovation in the retail sector, but very much across the retail, hospitality sector, offline becomes online and online comes offline, and it's because we have such good hardware production out here, and we understand hardware out here and manufacturing.
Shelli Trung: 38:16 And so, that is going to be a really huge play for us. As a result, the data, the data is huge. But again, FinTech as well, I think there's a model between like, there's this sort of rent to own in the States.
Kylie Davis: 38:34 Yes.
Shelli Trung: 38:37 It's very common. I think there's some opportunities there. I feel like buying and renting is somewhere in the middle. I don't know really what that is, but I feel like that's a space that could evolve. I think data and transparency can help some of this. Innovations in insurance. I feel like the insurance tech companies, or insurance tech has been heavily neglected in this region.
Kylie Davis: 38:57 Yes, yeah.
Shelli Trung: 38:59 So I think that's also a potential opportunity to work with our insurance partners and our banking partners, and aligning all of that data to flow a little bit easier. Again, there's hardware pieces that come into that as well.
Kylie Davis: 39:13 Yeah. So what's your vision, or what do you think real estate's going to be like in five years' time? I think 10 years is always a bit too far out. I think, "No, I can't predict 10." But what do you see are the influences that are going to change agent behaviour or what do you see real estate looking like?
Shelli Trung: 39:39 I was just thinking, I made a post the other day about 2020, and we're not quite living like the Jetsons quite yet. There's no flying cars everywhere.
Kylie Davis: 39:48 Oh, I want a Rosie.
Shelli Trung: 39:51 Yeah, okay. So we're not quite there yet. I think with agents, I think the role of agents ... I mean again, with Uxtrata, sort of strata management company being an example, the amount of volume, but the demand and customer service is going to be different. I've been talking to a lot of real estate agent organisations where, "Yes, we're handling more volume, but customers are now instead of-
Kylie Davis: 40:18 Pickier.
Shelli Trung: 40:19 Yeah. Instead of expecting your response in a week, I know I'm a landlord as well, instead of expecting a response in a week or two days, they're literally getting onto the phone and saying, "Where's my response?" in a day, 24 hours. I'm not that demanding, but I know that's what's packing now. It's really information at the fingertips.
Shelli Trung: 40:41 So I think that's going to really ... Yes, definitely. you're going to handle more volume, hopefully deliver, more transparent customer service. Be able to predict the future, predict what your customer ... and be able to provide a more tailored service. I think that's again, great customer service for the industry, but I also think it's going to be more demanding as well of them to provide that service. It's going to be an expectation.
Shelli Trung: 41:06 I think what's trickled into that is actually the ageing population. People are going to stay in their homes a lot longer because they have all this IOT. The retirement and the shift of people working from home. You know, you and I are both-
Kylie Davis: 41:22 Spoiled.
Shelli Trung: 41:23 ... doing it from home, you know? I mean, great. We're very, very spoiled. And so, I think that's where a lot of this IOT enables that. And so, how agents are selling property differently? Well, the way the space is used is going to be different. The way they present the space is going to be different. You've got millennials who are really getting married a little later and having their pets as their firstborn.
Kylie Davis: 41:47 Their babies, yeah.
Shelli Trung: 41:50 I actually see a lot of that, and sort of raising plants and stuff. What does that actually mean? How are buildings being walkable, change? The way you sell that asset is going to be different, and the way you manage that. You're going to get people who are going to rent for a lifetime. Does that mean you're going to probably have more property management is probably going to be a more elevated profession perhaps.
Kylie Davis: 42:14 I think property management is going to be this ... well, it always should have been the centre of every real estate business, but I think this is the decade for property management to completely own the industry. Go property management girls.
Shelli Trung: 42:28 Yeah, yeah. I mean, the volume of transactions will change. I mean, Southeast Asia is obviously going to have a lot of population move, and sort of get wealthier and wealthier. But that's very much a renting population as well. And again, coming up with that amount of deposit is just the affordability.
Shelli Trung: 42:48 Co-living. People building their own villages, tiny homes. All of these are really going to be cultural changes, and millennials are going to just expect different things from their space, and more versatile designs, and more clever designs.
Shelli Trung: 43:07 I'm one of those people who really hate the fact that there's a restriction on the square feet. Like you need to build an X square feet in most of the cities in Australia. But it doesn't take into account of smart design, clever design, versatile, well-designed space.
Shelli Trung: 43:23 Poorly designed space, it doesn't matter how many square feet you've got, it's a poorly designed space. And so, we've got people living in awful boxes. Hong Kong and a lot of Asia tends to have poorly designed space, very small space. But I think there's ways that architectural technology can really change that, you know?
Kylie Davis: 43:43 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Shelli Trung: 43:43 I'm seeing 3D renders of models that can spit out different renders, literally a hundred renders with the click of a button. All right?
Kylie Davis: 43:50 Yeah. Yeah.
Shelli Trung: 43:51 How does that impact what we put on and what the vendor could really demand for what they want to live in? And again, trickle down to the agent. How do they actually sell the actual asset?
Kylie Davis: 44:03 So Shelli, thank you so much. It's been a fantastic conversation. You're going to share with us the link so that we can put it in the show notes for the testing panel, for the panel, if agents or anyone listening wants to join that panel, and if agents want to, or if anyone wants to come in and find out more about the programme, they can reach out to you. We'll put your contact details in the show notes, but also you'll be at the REIQ summit in March. So a shout out to Antonio and Pete and the guys at REIQ. Yeah?
Shelli Trung: 44:32 Yeah, I'll definitely make the REIQ summit. We're also going to be at AREC as well on the Gold Coast, I think in our first quarter.
Kylie Davis: 44:41 Fabulous.
Shelli Trung: 44:42 And so yeah, I'm looking forward to really focusing on supporting the industry and their adoption of technology. We've obviously got some programming in Manila and Singapore as well. For those of us who want to sort of reach out. It is a region-wide programme, so our focus is really helping that industry understand, adopt innovation a little bit easier and faster.
Kylie Davis: 45:09 Thanks Shelli Trung from Second Century Ventures. Thanks for joining us on the show.
Shelli Trung: 45:13 Pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Kylie Davis: 45:15 So that was Shelli Trung from Second Century Ventures, who is the head of the REACH programme in Asia-Pacific.
Kylie Davis: 45:22 So it's a really big, bold vision that Second Century Ventures has for real estate. And it's interesting that they see the silos, well literally the brick walls that differentiate residential, commercial and retail real estate, that they're coming down and we're moving more towards mixed purpose buildings and ways of living.
Kylie Davis: 45:41 Shelli's observations about property management increasingly being the ... of every agency really resonated with me, and it's gratifying to hear that REACH had so many female founders as part of their first application. Go the girls.
Kylie Davis: 45:55 Second Century Ventures is literally the real estate industry putting its money where its mouth is and investing in these businesses. But of course, that money's coming from the US, so these are all established local businesses from Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, as Shelli said, and the businesses in the programme already have established sales, marketing and onboarding processes, and are looking for ways to access new and bigger markets.
Kylie Davis: 46:21 So to me, this reveals that there's still a gap in the Australian and New Zealand market of nurturing businesses that are in that growth cycle, that are in between startup or proof of concept. They've got something that they know works, but they're looking on how they can scale it up to that million dollar mark in the proptech space, because that step up really is quite a big step.
Kylie Davis: 46:41 So I suspect we're likely to see more VC money, not less moving into this space, and more programmes in this space, and I really hope we do. Certainly, the REACH programme has done a lot to put Australian proptech startups on the map. So I wish everyone in the 2020 cohort all the best success, and you can see links to each of those businesses in the show notes.
Kylie Davis: 47:02 So now if you have enjoyed this episode of the Proptech Podcast, we would love you to tell your friends and/or drop me a line either by email, LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.
Kylie Davis: 47:13 You can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, and now also on Apple iTunes. And if you'd love to leave me a review, I would love you forever.
Kylie Davis: 47:22 I'd like to thank my audio support, Charlie Hollands and the fabulous Jill Escudero, and Charles from Beepo. Our sponsors, Beepo, making outsourcing easy, and HomePrezzo, turning your data into amazing marketing content. Thanks, Nate, for all the ongoing support.
Kylie Davis: 47:38 So thanks everyone. Until next week, keep on prop teching.
Content marketing strategist, researcher, journalist and presenter specialising in the real estate industry. I'm passionate about proptech, digital disruption and all things property, big data, leadership and entrepreneurial ideas, have an MBA and specialise in social and digital media content creation and automation.