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 real estate agents, and sharing our stories is a great way to do that. The aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a Proptech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what's possible, and explore the issues and challenges raised by the tech and how they can create amazing property experiences, especially in these particularly crazy times. So my guest in this episode is Adam Campbell from VaultRE, a new generation cloud based CRM platform for real estate that works across sales, property management, and even trust accounting.
Kylie Davis: (00:49)
Adam and his business partner, Scott Wolf were the original founders of MyDesktop, and they sold the business to Fairfax, which became Domain where it became the dominant CRM platform in the industry. But they were made redundant several years ago, and yet they vowed to stay together as a team working on a new cloud based CRM called VaultRE, that had all the features and functionality that MyDesktop had never been able to get the resources to develop. And two weeks ago, they pulled off another coup when they announced a new investor in the form of former realestate.com boss, Simon Baker. Using the money to purchase you guessed it, MyDesktop from Domain. It's an astonishing story, so here to tell us all about it Adam Campbell, welcome to the Proptech podcast.
Adam Campbell: (01:34)
Thanks, Kylie great to be here.
Kylie Davis: (01:36)
And great to have you especially after all your exciting news last week, so give us the elevator pitch to Vault.
Adam Campbell: (01:45)
Okay, well, VaultRE is the first combined sales and listings management system, CRM and property management all contained within a single piece of technology.
Kylie Davis: (01:55)
Right. And so what's the problem that VaultRE really solves, like why does real estate need Another CRM?
Adam Campbell: (02:02)
Yeah, a very good question. Put simply, it's a tool that every stakeholder in the business can use. Now what I mean by that is the property manager, the salesperson, the trust accountant and on top of that, that then allows the business owner to have now one single view of their business rather than having to go into this product to monitor their property management, or this product to monitor their sales. And of course, for a salesperson to monitor their own KPIs. So it's that benefit of that single piece. Now, over the 20 years... I mean, what problems is it solving? Over the last 20 years starting from the MyDesktop era, I did run the user groups around the country. And sure it was, yes, we've got these new features, but it was more so hearing from customers what are the pain points, what's broken, what don't you like? And of course, for any CRM, there comes a time where you can't continue to adapt and evolve it simply because of its age.
Adam Campbell: (02:53)
MyDesktop was built back then some of the systems were built in 2010. We've got the luxury of having that clean slate so Vault having been written in 2017, we've mitigated a lot of those issues, a lot of those pain points.
Kylie Davis: (03:06)
Well, and I guess you've built the tech in an era of cloud, haven't you as opposed to legacy software stacks?
Adam Campbell: (03:13)
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, Amazon AWS has been fantastic. I mean, back when we started doing this, I remember the days of MyDesktop when it had about 1,000 customers, we needed four data racks in a data centre. Yeah, never when we [inaudible 00:03:25] it was crazy. And of course, you were ready for 02:00 AM or that call out early hours in the morning, that's gone now. I can literally and thankfully coronavirus we could just do things from home. Literally press buttons and increased capacity from anywhere in the world. It's a luxury.
Kylie Davis: (03:41)
Fantastic. So look you referred to MyDesktop and for our listeners, let's just back a little bit, you and Scott used to own MyDesktop. Tell us the story of how you came to leave MyDesktop and set up VaultRE?
Adam Campbell: (03:56)
Absolutely, I hear there's a little stories out there and I'll give you the definitive... What actually happened, it probably helps to just start with we did start MyDesktop in 1998, and grew it to what it then became. Now, we did sell MyDesktop in 2007, and to give you some background for that our nearest competitor was HUB Online. Some people might-
Kylie Davis: (04:22)
Oh, God, I don't even remember that.
Adam Campbell: (04:26)
REA, realestate.com actually bought that CRM, and we had very similar client numbers, roughly about 400 or 500 back then. And we were very worried that wow, REA has just bought this, and we just spent 19 years making a profit or trying to make a profit. So anyway, we-
Kylie Davis: (04:42)
Overnight success then.
Adam Campbell: (04:44)
Exactly. So we needed someone to... A big brother, let's call it, anyway that's how the Domain group slash FairFax relationship started. Yeah, roll forward we actually completed the sale pretty well 2010. And we're actually employees for the six years they're on from 2010. I'm still tracking a lot my baby. 23rd December, we were made redundant, 23rd December 2016 probably the worst time of my life. That's the way the world works. The four of us that left made a decision we're going to stick together, we're going to do something, we're not sure what something is, and of course, that something then became what is VaultRE today.
Kylie Davis: (05:27)
Wow, that's so built your baby up, sold it to Domain worked inside Domain made redundant and then went out and started a new one?
Adam Campbell: (05:38)
Kylie Davis: (05:40)
It's a great story.
Adam Campbell: (05:43)
Resolving the issues we found along the journey, the things we couldn't change, but more so with a focus on property management as well. And that's certainly one of our points of difference having that all in one product now.
Kylie Davis: (05:57)
Yeah, so look, a good CRM is any kind of CRM that an agent will use, but most agents are really notorious for not using their CRMs properly. How is VaultRE solving that problem?
Adam Campbell: (06:11)
Yeah, well, in a number of fronts, looking at MyDesktop, if I'd follow that same path, it would have been wrong in today's world. What I mean by that is MyDesktop, I would say it was admin centric, it was built for the administrator, and then probably the salesperson was that afterthought. And you can only go so far as building the apps, and that leads me into a salesperson they will rule their day, they will run their day from the app. As much as can be put onto the app is a key thing. Yeah, what I'm talking there is, obviously, everyone knows the check in experience, the access to your contacts, your properties, your connection to your data provider, whether it's called logical price finder, the caller ID, that's one house. The moment we realised let's not try and build a web experience for the salesperson.
Adam Campbell: (06:57)
Yes, it will work, but they're going to run their day from the app, so that was a key thing. The other thing is automation, everyone talks automation but we know sales people, they just want to get the job done. Let's put a listing in, or maybe let's put the appraisal in. So our systems, the automation will automatically assign that action plan without them having to think, so call it like a personal assistant, that was the key thing. The other probably last point I'll make there is they're probably notorious for using CRM not effectively, because it all comes down to the office procedures from day one. So back in the day, we always used to say, yes, let's have salesperson training. Let's have admin training on this brand new CRM that's not the right model at all.
Adam Campbell: (07:39)
What needs to happen is when we onboard a new customer in our new office, it's how do you run your database, are you running it open, are you running it closed? It's working out those office procedures before you let any salesperson loose on the system. Obviously, different if a salesperson uses Vault in their own right, but I'm talking at an office perspective that's where it falls down.
Kylie Davis: (07:59)
Cool. So look I just want to unpack some of the stuff because there was an awful lot of information in there. When you talk about Vault being an app, and not web based. Tell me a little bit more about what that means. Is that meaning that it's on my phone or is that meaning... and I can use it anywhere or what does that mean?
Adam Campbell: (08:18)
Good point. So just to clarify, it is absolutely a web based system because you're not going to have a trust account and doing their sales trust accounting through an app doing it backwards [inaudible 00:08:26]. So at the heart is a web based system. For those, technical listening it is responsive. Yes, it can be used on the mobile devices, tick all those boxes. But we realised, the salesperson does need the app for the benefits of the caller ID and all those nice things that they expect today. And not have three apps doing it, you have one to access... or do your checking have it all in the one app, which then leads to less duplication of data and so forth.
Kylie Davis: (08:57)
So using Vault I can be out on the road and I can be using my phone to be working on my listings?
Adam Campbell: (09:05)
Correct. Absolutely, absolutely. And that could extend to, okay, I want to add an open home time into it if the person's got such access, and of course, by virtue of that it updates the portals. And of course it hooks into the check in experience as well.
Kylie Davis: (09:18)
Adam Campbell: (09:20)
[crosstalk 00:09:20] things on the road.
Kylie Davis: (09:23)
Fantastic. So what we heard at Prop 20 before they were cancelled was that the idea came out basically that there is an understanding in real estate land that when we talk about agents being mobile, we mean that they're in their car and they're using their mobile phone to talk to people. And that the technology is now out there to allow them to actually do a lot more of that transaction process on their phone using apps like yours I guess to do all that. So I can start a project in the car while I'm in between appointments and then I can go back to the office and I can pick that task up or I can complete the other elements of that task.
Adam Campbell: (10:03)
Good point. And I'm even going to the extent now of where you had to come into the office to complete those other tasks, doing that on the phone as well, with a mobile device. And the good example there is, as a salesperson, I could be doing appraisal right now at [inaudible 00:10:17] road, guess I could be taking photos of the property if I so wish. If my [crosstalk 00:10:21] is good enough on the phone and [crosstalk 00:10:22] it is. And then of course, by virtue of putting that appraisal in, yes, that will then trigger automatically behind the scenes, the action plan, the policies and procedures. Day one, do this, day three, do that, day 10 phone call to the client. Are they proceeding with getting this listing? So although this happens behind the scenes, all from the [crosstalk 00:10:43].
Kylie Davis: (10:42)
So the revolutionary way that I guess you guys are enabling agents to work and I really want to... I'm sorry, if I'm sort of going on about this, but I kind of really want to hammer at home is that the standard behaviour of real estate agent is to go out to the property and do the things or have the meetings that they need to have there. And then either go back to the desktop... go back to the office to then start to process the sale or process the listing or if they're caught out because they've got another set of meetings, they will then bring their assistant or ring someone back at the office and set those actions in place based on that phone call. But what we're seeing now through technology like VaultRE is that you can be out on the road and you can start the process on your phone while you're out there. And your assistant can pick up that work from there and then continue that process. Is that correct?
Adam Campbell: (11:37)
Correct. [crosstalk 00:11:37] important thing when we developed the app, there are some things we considered well, maybe the agent is not going to have internet on their phone, they might be in some hungry banker somewhere.
Kylie Davis: (11:48)
Yeah, or in the bush.
Adam Campbell: (11:50)
That has to support offline and online. So obviously checking in offline and online, but you're not going to get the benefit for example, the appraisal of it hooking in getting an AVM from the data plotters, which we can do if you've got internet on the phone integrated with even the Vault app.
Kylie Davis: (12:05)
Yeah, fantastic. So when we start to pull all this apart for agents, the benefit of that is like we all know what happens is that you ring... when you need to talk to your assistant, you ring them, they're up in the middle of something else, they don't call you, they call you back, then you're in the middle of something else. And so you play this silly phone tag where you just lose so much time. But I guess what you guys are doing is helping give back by starting task work instantly. And setting workflows in place, the minute you need to, and then being able to digitally hand off to people.
Adam Campbell: (12:42)
Exactly. And the other thing I want there now, first thing I'll preface by saying we are never a smoke and mirrors company when we do our pitch or it's not what someone's using now. And what I'll say there is we've got inbuilt messaging in the system now already in the web experience. So think of that like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger within the system. So again not relying on something else, so the benefit there is and this is why I prefaced it by saying, this is what is coming out in the app in the next few weeks where we've got that inbuilt messaging through the push notifications but within the VaultRE app. So yeah, I'm running late for an appointment, the PA can be advised of that from their web experience without having to organise separate WhatsApp subscriptions as well.
Adam Campbell: (13:25)
So as much as we can put in the one product, great, that's our goals.
Kylie Davis: (13:29)
Cool. So something else I want to unpack from that earlier statement that you made? Adam, was that you talked about open or closed data environments. Tell me more about that.
Adam Campbell: (13:39)
Well, this primarily focused around, the buyer. So for example, if a buyer comes in into the office or more so in inquiry from realestate.com or Domain one of the portals, the question is who owns that buyer?
Kylie Davis: (13:54)
Adam Campbell: (13:57)
That old chestnut.
Kylie Davis: (13:57)
That old chestnut, yeah.
Adam Campbell: (13:58)
[crosstalk 00:13:58] as I said that first training session we do with them, how do you want to run your database? My goodness, I've sometimes sat down 45 minutes, just waiting for a decision by the office. It's quite I'll say interesting.
Kylie Davis: (14:11)
Well, it's a fundamental decision that every agency needs to have a policy around. But it's a fundamental decision that often just gets caught up in how we do business without actually anyone ever analysing it, doesn't it?
Adam Campbell: (14:26)
That's the thing, when you change your CRM or during an onboarding, they've got to now make that decision because where it falls over, we're putting a new CRM in, and why you might not get uptake by the sales team is the system hasn't been set up. Yeah, as developers, we need to make it flexible enough, I'm running open, I'm running close, I'm running teams, I'm running it EBU. I mean, there's so many variations out there and we've got to cater for that. And so it's not a one size fits all anymore. It's providing those options and once they've agreed on policy set, lock it down, then forget about it, ideally.
Kylie Davis: (14:59)
So what does VaultRE do that other CRMs don't, is it around that kind of flexibility to set it up the way that you want to and as well as that mobile functionality?
Adam Campbell: (15:12)
Definitely that, I would argue and obviously coming from the MyDesktop space where it was very rigid, it was like, these are your categories and so they're got to be called capitalised or [inaudible 00:15:21]. [crosstalk 00:15:22] that somebody doesn't use that terminology, yet alone terminology between different states, Sydney will call something different to obviously solicitors versus conveyances versus settlement agents, so there was always that bugbear. So customization is key, even within Australia as a whole. Now, what do we do that others don't? I'll probably answer it in a number of points here. One of the key things moving forward is property management. So I briefly alluded to it before. Now, what does that mean exactly? Just consider a property has just been settled. Now, if that owner that new purchaser wants it to be managed by your office, all I need to do now is click a button and that becomes a management that single point property. So we're really focusing on one view of the property now.
Adam Campbell: (16:04)
Yes, it was for sale, settled, and now it's in management. But think of it the other way, I've got a management in the system now and the owner wants to sell click another button, you're not duplicating data. And that's the problem with systems today. Whether it's the property manager, or the admin has to translate that data it's a lot of duplication. So that's one key thing. And the single view of the business is key now, because we've got both sides of story, and this also extends to commercial as well. And the other thing, how we're different is that absolutely no contracts. What we learned back in the MyDesktop guys is you can't hold clients to ransom, putting them on 12 month contracts, at price gouging. What we do is it's month by month, and that's the fairest thing to do.
Adam Campbell: (16:47)
And also, if they want to leave, they can get their data out. And number two, that's not the be all and end all because the problem is there are reports, there's probably bank reconciliations from years past. So what our philosophy now is, we actually keep a read only account open, past the lock period. And that's a key thing. I know others in the property management space have done that, but now we're doing it in our product being sales, commercial, property management as well. It's just think the people need that comfort.
Kylie Davis: (17:14)
Yeah. So that you can feel that it's safe to move over to VaultRE, but also that if it doesn't work out, you can also go somewhere else?
Adam Campbell: (17:26)
Correct. That the raw data sometimes means nothing, particularly you've given it to your new provider, it's like how do I work with this? And there's a blame game between parties. Well, thoughts are more interpreted by something like data, so it's only fair that gets provided to the provider.
Kylie Davis: (17:42)
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Kylie Davis: (18:41)
So Adam, we've heard from some other Proptech, and CRM, and property management systems that are building... it sounds like you guys are building a whole ecosystem around your tech that is app based. Are you open or closed in terms of playing nicely with other tech businesses that might have a functionality that you don't have?
Adam Campbell: (19:06)
I love that question. Even with companies that we would consider be a competitor to, what I'd love to [inaudible 00:19:14]. We have a really open API, and don't charge for it and never have. And the key thing is it's an open API, which at the moment is about 120 third party feeds out of Vault and about 60 API keys issues just to give you an idea. And yes, some of those are the competitors, because it might be they're on a website through them and that's the way it should be. We've never been in a position where we're not integrating with that because the office has to make the choice. We understand for example, checking in people that are in an open home, some people might prefer to use this app, and that's fine. Although we've got it, the client can have the choice... look Microsoft used to call it plug and play. I probably don't want to go back to the 80s and 90s [crosstalk 00:20:02] exactly that. [crosstalk 00:20:03] API governs that.
Kylie Davis: (20:05)
Yeah. Okay, that's great. So if I'm an agent, what are the pain points that I am experiencing right now, especially in this age of COVID, that would indicate that my CRM actually isn't pulling its weight, and I should look to update it?
Adam Campbell: (20:19)
Okay, I guess probably the number one warning sign would be support levels. Now, questionable whether the salesperson is actually calling up or whether it's the administrator doing it, but one of those turnaround times there. I mean, that is obviously an issue we know with a number of CRMs. The number two thing I would say is the warning sign would be are you double handling data, and that can come down to that open API. It would seem stupid for example, if I've just done a listing, I need a contract done. And I know you were talking to David Howell in the most recent conversation, it should be a matter of click that button, data goes through the contract. And by the way, once it's finalised data comes back in our filing cabinet, that's how it works. And that's how it should work.
Adam Campbell: (21:02)
And minimal data, or double handling it, where it does fall down or where the alarm bells start ringing is and again not naming any particular third parties, but sometimes the flow is done to wrong. And for example, talking forms for a moment, it wouldn't make sense to separately come with a form product just to pull the properties there, and then save it and then load it back in the system. That is not normal flow. And that's a warning sign where a CRM is like, I can't dedicate dev resources, so here's our API, go through life, do whatever that doesn't work. And I'll send a lot of that in my time.
Kylie Davis: (21:42)
Right. How is the end experience for a property buyer or a seller or a landlord or a tenant, how is that different when an agency is using VaultRE?
Adam Campbell: (21:57)
Okay, I'll say from a project management angle looking at that, obviously, there's the landlord logins, tenant logins and so forth. And we are being guided by property managers, what do you want to expose to these different stakeholders? So that's a key thing. You're having that real time access. I guess the question is, and it is often asked, will you go down the app space for those clients that say, whether it be an owner... sorry, landlord or tenant? My take on that at the moment is no, not at this point in time. Because what have you got on your phone is a consumer out there, you've got your Instagram, you've got your Facebook, you've got your online banking, the Uber, the DD, and so forth. Are you really going to download another app for that? Maybe, maybe not. I'm just in a holding pattern there at the moment on a specific app to do that. So that's talking property management.
Adam Campbell: (22:44)
But what I will say is because we've got one view of the customer, I call it the client, a person can now be a landlord, tenant, owner, vendor, all at the same time. So of course, they can login into their login areas and see that. Now I'll also, just talk about the buys for a second, obviously the check in experience that's the first point of contact, I guess. And what we do, the unique solution we created on the back of an agency and William Stanley said, I think this would be a good idea. And it's what we call the electronic table. He simply said, Adam, at an open home, Sunday morning, I've got the copy of the contract, I've got this document, I've got that document, buyers are walking out copious amounts of paper. Let's face it, we want to go brain. So we thought about it and why don't we create electronic tables? What are the documents of interest to buyers? Great, package them up in a responsive site.
Adam Campbell: (23:36)
So effectively imagine check in, 10B people have come through the property, there's a thank you for attending our open home. And by the way, here's a link to our electronic table. So this is the kind of things we're doing, and there's certainly been a lot of [inaudible 00:23:50] people who have come on board Vault.
Kylie Davis: (23:52)
Well, I love that too, because obviously it's less surfaces to cough all over if you're at an open home. And at the moment, that's really important.
Adam Campbell: (24:01)
Kylie Davis: (24:02)
Yeah. Let's get to the really chewy stuff. You guys were recently purchased just last week by Simon Baker in a deal that was how big are we talking, are we saying?
Adam Campbell: (24:17)
Kylie Davis: (24:20)
Tell me what you can about that.
Adam Campbell: (24:25)
Okay. So it's good to play there because there's been a lot of communication on different platforms as to what actually happened. So we weren't actually purchased by Simon. He's actually a joint shareholder with us, so the comfort there is... I know some people are thinking, oh goodness, what have you done? We were getting emails saying have you deserted us? Well, we haven't deserted you in MyDesktop space, we didn't have a choice but that's history. But Simon is a joint shareholder with us, and his involvement is he's chairman of that vehicle effectively that we're all shareholders of. Now, the key thing in structuring this deal, we could not be in a position of being walked again. So it's been structured such that the only reason we could be walked, if a poor performance not a decision of someone deciding let's make Scott, Adam, Will, Dave, and the team and Matt redundant. So we've protected ourselves there because... I would have been at MyDesktop until I retired, I'm going to be at this one until I retire and probably beyond because it is my new baby. I've got both babies now effectively we're maintaining.
Kylie Davis: (25:35)
Yeah, so what are your plans for MyDesktop? I kind of feel like now that you've got your baby back, but you're talking about a lot of the things that you've done with Vault that were based on problems that you saw that MyDesktop couldn't solve. How is that going to work? Are you going to cannibalise it?
Adam Campbell: (25:56)
Absolutely, I mean, for us, the key thing as part of the capital raising, there was an opportunity to buy MyDesktop. And it was like, well, if we did it, someone else would have. And it would have been very difficult to migrate data out. Because I guess the key thing for anyone to understand here is because we wrote both MyDesktop and Vault, I can actually guarantee and you won't hear this ever, like for like data translation, because-
Kylie Davis: (26:25)
You know where all the skeletons are.
Adam Campbell: (26:27)
Exactly. And I know, it looks like that there and it looks like that there. And we could never do that when we were just Vault. We're only as good as what MyDesktop gave us. Although we wrote it, it was a subset of data now we've got access to both sides. So that's why we're in a unique position where we can say like for like. Now that leads to the next question over the last week because all this happened Friday, a week ago, the whole settlement and the keys to the kingdom were open and so forth. Now over this last week, we have been meeting with all the franchise groups remotely, I would have been on planes this week very busy, but anyway. So with Corona, it's been a great thing I've probably [inaudible 00:27:06] packaged more done and less on flying. But we've been dealing with all the groups because obviously, it's like shifting to the Titanic for some groups, changing a CRM is a major thing.
Adam Campbell: (27:17)
So for any listeners who are part of a franchise group, we're working with the franchisee [inaudible 00:27:22]. But talking to independents, talking to smaller groups. We're putting a plan in place in a roundabout way what I'm saying is we've got to go over the next nine months to bring the majority of those customers over into Vault like [polite 00:27:34]. And the beautiful thing is for these customers, because we... well obviously having written MyDesktop we'd written Vault in a way, obviously newer stack, newer platform, but they're not going to feel foreign going into it. It's a bit like the old days... I shouldn't use the old days WordPerfect and Word, it was hard [crosstalk 00:27:52] between the two products. Think of this as just part of the family, but better, newer, and it will have a comfortable feel to people which will be Minimise the shock factor training and the shock of where is my data?
Kylie Davis: (28:06)
Yeah, fantastic, because they are all being pain points when you've changed CRM.
Adam Campbell: (28:11)
Kylie Davis: (28:12)
Yeah. So it sounds like you have a very exciting 12 months or more ahead of you. I guess the question that I just want to circle a little bit back is the one that everyone wants to know, is this a signal that Simon Baker is back in the property market? Like, what can you tell us about that?
Adam Campbell: (28:33)
Yeah. Good question. Simon is actually always been in the Proptech space. I mean, and very, very well connected. I mean, we're fortunate enough to attend his property portal watch last November in Madrid we had some fantastic take outs there. And of course, Simon then saw Vault and quote unquote, he said Vault is the only one in the world because obviously he's got a lot of connections. He said, it's the only one in the world where we see it as one single piece of software that can do both. And of course, we want to... this will probably end up where we're heading, we want to extend that to fully commercial leasing as well. That's in time, if you want to know the next five years effectively. But yeah, Simon has always been in this space, in the Proptech space. Yeah, it is exciting guys.
Adam Campbell: (29:24)
For us, I should say it opens up opportunities because we have had the presence in the U.K for the last five years. We've got people and structures on the ground there already. So with that team, he certainly brings a lot to the table as well, which was also attractive for us in involving Simon in the shareholding.
Kylie Davis: (29:46)
Let's just pause there for a moment and hear a quick word from our sponsors.
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Kylie Davis: (30:58)
So do you want to have a little bit of a chat around, you said before, something that I just wanted to circle back on around have been made redundant from Domain and from MyDesktop was like a terrible time for you. But can you tell us a little bit about the personal journey of... I know, from my own experience that when you sell a business, there's always a big deal that... there's a lot of emotional stuff that goes on with that. So selling to Domain in the first place, and Fairfax in the first place, and then going through that, and then coming out the other side for this amazing new deal that you've done. Do you want to just talk a little bit about that?
Adam Campbell: (31:37)
Yeah, absolutely. 23rd December 2016 never forget the day. It was literally what are you doing? I mean, the key thing was Scott, myself, Matt, Dave, the four of us were we're going to sit together in this. We didn't know what we're going to do, and obviously, being constrained by what could we do, not being able to talk to clients. The usual things, what to expect after redundancy, but we thought we'll get together and do something. And we started planning, thinking about, well, property management. Let's start to look at that area, because it's nothing to do with MyDesktop. And I guess what we didn't realise is the relationships we built over that 20 year journey. And I'll say that because in the first few weeks of January, it was amazing the calls we got. What had been done, what's happened, what's penny, penny, penny.
Adam Campbell: (32:35)
So we underestimated the relationships we had, so we thought, well, there's an opportunity here, we've got to help. Yeah, I'm talking franchisors, I'm talking independent boutique officers, various people. We had to do something so we started going down the path of property management, which ended up suddenly into sales and listings management.
Kylie Davis: (32:57)
Yeah, because it is a real problem, isn't it at the moment in real estate? It's something that's always astonished me, is that if I'm a vendor, the minute I sell my property and become a buyer, if I'm a landlord, I'm frequently a seller, like people in there... The tags that we would put on them in a CRM are very fluid and multiple and yet traditional CRM systems have not always accommodated for that.
Adam Campbell: (33:26)
Yeah. Absolutely, and that's a good point in that the redundancy, I can say it now was actually a blessing, because it forced us. I mean, if I was still at MyDesktop, in that form, we would have had to do a new version. It's kind of like... I won't name products, but where there's been a legacy system in running on DOS or Windows and they've got to go to the web. It's probably net transformation. Yes, it was needed because MyDesktop, it's got it's 970 interrelated database tables behind the scenes. And how do you bolt something like property management in? We did look at it back in around the 2013 2014 era, and it was the decision it's got to be something else. It's just too hard. So that's the thing, a lot of these old, I'll say old products, old CRMs it's like they've got to start from scratch again. That was a blessing for us. We were forced into it, but we're happy. So that's what happened.
Kylie Davis: (34:26)
Yeah, fantastic. Yes, as Tom Pennell says sometimes the best gifts are really poorly wrapped.
Adam Campbell: (34:36)
Okay, absolutely. [crosstalk 00:34:37] we're all in a good place and the key thing is the four of us all stuck together [inaudible 00:34:43] between us all we had the relationship so it's good to be getting back on the phone. Now there are a lot of these clients who say hey, we are back. We will look after you. You're in a safe place, and we're here to help.
Kylie Davis: (34:55)
And so how big are you guys now? How is this deal changing how you're scaling?
Adam Campbell: (35:02)
Yeah, it's fantastic. The good thing is it's not the unknown for us because it's similar size, of course, when we left MyDesktop, we were running over 3,000 offices. So now we have over 3,000 offices using collectively MyDesktop and Vault. So it does put us streets ahead of course in size. I'd probably say, I'd certainly say the largest now in Australia on that again, which is great. We're always trying to be that with Vault but with minimal capital, it's tough to do and that's getting back a question about the investment before we needed that capital just to fast track property management to fast track your other ideas we've got. So that was that. We've got about roughly over 30 staff at the moment and because we've got all these other exciting planes, we are looking for deals, we are looking for additional support.
Adam Campbell: (35:55)
And what I'll say is for us it's not putting a person on the ground in support, we need to someone who's lived and breathed it, so when a trust accountant is talking to someone, they've actually done a bank reconciliation before, or when property managers trying to work out how to generate a tenancy invoice for water usage, someone's actually done that before. It's not a one size fits all there. So obviously, our support teams are now being separated into two houses. It's the south side, it's the PN side. So yeah, we're ramping up... We were ramping up anyway. But even more so now. And of course, BDMs on the ground as well, because although we don't know where the next two months will be, there will be a time when well... whether that's hangouts, or people on the ground, sitting with an office, coming back to that question, are you running open, are you running closed? How can I customise Vault to fit with your business as we migrate everyone over the next nine months or those that we can migrate?
Kylie Davis: (36:50)
Fantastic. So you've obviously got a really exciting roadmap ahead of you guys at Vault but what do you see are the big challenges and the trends that are going to influence the real estate industry over the next five years?
Adam Campbell: (37:06)
The trends, okay. Well, I mean, it's certainly a big take out from the Madrid conference last November the Property Portal Watch is obviously you've got the portals wanting to get close to that transaction. And we're obviously seeing that already with regards to the mortgage products being offered on the portal, so I'm speaking very generically there. But of course, a big online thing from last November was, of course, the iBuyer model, which some theory it, someone's like, oh, hang on, how relevant is that agent? So we really... in our development, it's all focusing on how can the agent and the office become even more relevant. And yes, it's a cliche to say it comes down to the CRM, but really that's our focus point there. With regards to the next five years.
Kylie Davis: (37:57)
Well, look a good CRM is basically connected, absolutely integrally to your processes and workflows and structures, isn't it? And how you're running your team?
Adam Campbell: (38:09)
It should be.
Kylie Davis: (38:10)
It should be. Yeah.
Adam Campbell: (38:11)
[crosstalk 00:38:11] that's why that number one session is how our policies, how do we embed those policies into our system? And it's not rocket science, it's not like we just click this box, click that box and done. I say it's easy, but again, it's a matter of just getting in the face of the agency and saying, how do you run your business? Not this is how you should run it.
Kylie Davis: (38:32)
Yeah. Cool. So, one additional question without notice. That you mentioned before that the portals are all trying to get closer to the transaction and spreading their... investing in things that are doing additional tasks as part of the real estate process. And we saw that Domain recently bought Real Time Agent bought into Real Time Agent as part of their policy around that. Why do you think they let you guys go and then sold MyDesktop? Are you able to pontificate on that?
Adam Campbell: (39:13)
I mean, the CRM space, it was probably a product for Domain it's sitting there. It's like, how do we work with it? It was probably the drama, do we create a new system, do we keep on maintaining it, instead of confusion? And I must admit had I had to make that decision, it would have been equally as difficult. Obviously, I would have gone down the path of well, yeah, that's there. We've got to create this new entity, just like we've done in Vault because yes, you do need to utilise the latest Amazon stack because bear in mind, something that was written back then it shorts in the cloud, shorts in Amazon, but it's a lift and shift and it adapts. You've got to subscribe. So I think that was the issue. And obviously they were probably thinking well, is it going to be a lot of investment to get this new product out and there's a [crosstalk 00:40:00] factor as well.
Kylie Davis: (40:01)
Yeah, fair enough. Look I know Core Logic had similar issues like RP data was all built in 15, 20 years ago so similar work being done inside Core Logic to create a new RP. Adam, it has been absolutely fantastic to have you on the show. Thank you so much for sharing everything and congratulations on the investment with Simon and for getting your baby back.
Adam Campbell: (40:29)
Thanks, Kylie. Yeah, we are very, very excited. So that's been awesome to be on here.
Kylie Davis: (40:33)
Yeah, fantastic. I guess you've basically got like a merged family now. It's like step siblings, aren't they? Vault and-
Adam Campbell: (40:38)
Exactly. And that we're still part of it still the owners of it, which was the key thing. [crosstalk 00:40:45].
Kylie Davis: (40:46)
Yeah. And it's great to hear how it's worked out, so thank you so much for your time.
Adam Campbell: (40:50)
Thanks, Kylie. I appreciate it.
Kylie Davis: (41:56)
So that was Adam Campbell from VaultRE and it's an incredible startup story, isn't it? Of selling the business to ensure its growth, and then working in the corporate, to be made redundant. And using that redundancy to fuel the startup of the new baby, and then buying back their original business and to migrate those customers. There's so much in this. I personally think it's a story of incredible positivity, perseverance and hope prevailing. There are always risks when you sell your business to a corporate, and that the new larger owner will slow you down or fail to invest and prioritise the resources to the development that as a founder you know, and needed. And so all power to Adam and Scott for sticking through that because I know it can be hard.
Kylie Davis: (42:36)
And I love that they turned the redundancy around from being personally devastating to an opportunity. I first met Adam and Scott last year when I was in Perth, and they showed me the platform and I was really impressed. I love how they use their redundancy from Domain as a kick up the bum that they needed to create a platform that was truly designed for the current challenges faced by agencies across all elements of their businesses, sales, property management and trust accounting. The final coup de gras has been teaming up with Simon Baker to buy back MyDesktop. And they're going to cannibalise that customer base and migrate those customers across to the new VaultRE. And I personally think that's probably a great thing for the industry. Adam really does know where all the bodies are buried in MyDesktop. And it's going to give more businesses than ever exposure to new functionality that agents need to embrace. And that can't happen soon enough.
Kylie Davis: (43:26)
I'll be watching to see what happens with VaultRE really closely. So now if you've enjoyed this episode of the Proptech podcast, I'd love you to tell your friends or drop me a line either via email, LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page. You can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google podcasts on anchor or Apple iTunes. And I'd like to thank my audio support Chaley Hollins and the fabulous [inaudible 00:43:48] and our sponsors, Bebo making outsourcing easy and Home Prezzo turning your data into amazing marketing content, which has never been more important in these days of social isolation. And if you are an agent looking for things to do if it's a little bit quieter and you're wanting to scale up your marketing click on the link because we're extending our free trial period at Home Prezzo. So thanks, everyone. Until next week, please stay safe and keep on Propteching. See you soon.
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.