VTS’s Newest London Directors Dive Deep Into The World Of Property Technology
James King and Luke Armstrong did not foresee working for a technology company. But when the former London-based CBRE agents saw an opportunity to become the new directors at property tech startup VTS, the pair saw a chance to become involved in a side of real estate that is undergoing rapid evolution.
Their decision was driven by VTS' position not as a disruptor in an industry centered around people-driven interactions, but as a facilitator of those relationships.
“I think people initially asked me if I’d gone mad,” King said. "We really weren't looking to change roles and work at a technology company. It wasn't until we really educated ourselves about the PropTech industry that we realised just how great an opportunity was on the table."
VTS is the leading leasing and asset management platform used by landlords and agents to manage over 5.9B SF globally. VTS clients, which include Blackstone, Derwent London, Brookfield, Exemplar, AshbyCapital, Ingleby Trice, DTRE and GVA, can see aggregated data about every building in their portfolio, all from one dashboard. The platform’s features include tools to track real-time portfolio analytics, manage deal activity and identify leasing trends. King and Armstrong see the platform as a means of enabling landlords and agents to make more informed, data-driven decisions, ultimately optimising portfolio revenue, increasing productivity and mitigating exposure to risk.
“What is really exciting about making this move, is that we are still working with our previous clients, but now we are touching so many additional parts of their businesses,” Armstrong said. “On a personal level, that is really enriching and a great thing to see how much more of an impact we have on our clients’ day-to-day successes.”
PropTech has increasingly pushed real estate toward more data-centric approaches to dealmaking. Taking inspiration from apps like Uber and Facebook, which use information to make daily life easier and more engaging, King and Armstrong see real estate professionals benefitting from the same level of mobility and access to information in the near future.
At the speed of PropTech's development in Europe, that day may be sooner rather than later.
VTS initially launched in New York City before expanding into the European market. Compared to the U.S., which saw a relatively measured rate of adoption as the company introduced a brand new technology, King and Armstrong have seen the London market embrace the now more established technology at a much faster pace.
“What we've seen so far in America is a tremendous growth over a five-year period, and more recently, a rationalisation of the number of PropTech firms that are succeeding in the U.S.,” King said. “In London that five-year period will compress because the market has learned from the U.S. experiences. U.K. clients are fantastically placed to benefit from the learnings of U.S. adoption, with many poised to pounce on the opportunities the VTS platform creates."
As PropTech continues to mature, particularly in the U.K., King sees the impact of the industry going beyond business benefits. Better technology means time spared, freeing up people to do and experience more in their careers and personal lives.
“It is more than a case of making people more efficient with their time," King said. “With less time spent on 'admin', professionals are going to be happier, they are going to like their jobs more, it’s going to be more exciting, generally a more fun space to work in.”
That future also depends on what the clients need in a platform.
“Our clients help us design the platform," Armstrong said. "What you see today is the result of them outlining very real, tangible pain points, and us responding by building solutions that add value for everyone."
It is a challenge that King and Armstrong are up for in their new roles at VTS, as they help to grow the company’s presence across Europe.
“Coming in every day and speaking to our clients, listening to what they want to see that will ultimately make their lives better, is an exciting process, and as a result every day is completely different,” Armstrong said.
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