- June 1, 2019: Vol. 6, Number 6

Innovations for the built environment: MetaProp co-founders release book on the proptech space

by Loretta Clodfelter

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A new book by Aaron Block and Zach Aarons attempts to develop an introduction to the real estate technology startup space. PropTech 101: Turning Chaos into Cash through Real Estate Innovation is part textbook, part manifesto, and it offers a comprehensive view of the sector. Block and Aarons established their real estate technology bona fides early on as co-founders of proptech venture capital firm MetaProp.

The book defines property technology, or proptech, as “the software, tools, platforms, apps, websites and other digital solutions enlisted by real estate practitioners, from brokers and appraisers to architects and construction managers.” As such, proptech “realizes efficiencies and facilitates real estate activities, including buying, selling, leasing, managing, appraising, financing, marketing, developing, designing, building and investing, among others.”

PropTech 101 offers a taxonomy of the real estate technology startup ecosystem, as well as an overview of the market and players. Along the way, the authors promote their own processes and identify the most promising of their portfolio companies.

The value for real estate practitioners comes in the co-authors’ message of strategies for engaging with proptech, which can also spur “innovation within organizations.” Faced with tech-based startup, a legacy real estate company has three options, the book notes: “ignore, kill or join.”

As well, the book includes what it calls “innovation conversations” with a number of industry participants, including Dave Eisenberg, senior vice president of digital enablement and technology at CBRE; Karen Hollinger, vice president of corporate initiatives at AvalonBay Communities; Nick Romito, founder and CEO of VTS; and Michael Rudin, senior vice president at Rudin Management.

While the book begins with a look back at the past century of real estate innovation, it ends, fittingly enough, with a look forward. A selection of real estate professionals, proptech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists share their forecasts for the future of real estate, and what changes technology might bring. Robert Entin, executive vice president and CIO of Vornado Realty Trust, forecasts the rise of artificial intelligence and the prospect of a building that runs itself. Jeff Berman, general partner at Camber Creek, predicts technology will create better tenant experiences and space utilization. And Pete Flint, founder of Trulia and managing partner of NFX, looks at the state of the residential real estate market and predicts most traditional real estate brokers will be gone in a decade.


Loretta Clodfelter is editor of Institutional Real Estate Americas.

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